A Corking Good TimePosted: June 6, 2015
The following report on the Ocean to City Race at Cork by Topher Dawson appeared in the Ullapool News on 5 June 2015. Photographs by Jonathan Reid.
On Saturday 30th May, two Ullapool skiffs contested the prestigious Ocean to City Race at Cork in Ireland. The Pink Fizzers rowing in Ulla were Lisa Urquhart, Kath Foote, Fiona Macdonald, Kathleen Mackay and Bev MacGregor. In Cul Mor, the High School skiff, were the Corkers: Jan Dawson, Kathryn Bennett, Jonathan Reid, Tim Gauntlett and Topher Dawson.
The 28km race, from Crosshaven to Cork, attracts hundreds of entries from all over Ireland and the UK. Kayaks, currachs, skiffs, gigs, Celtic Longboats, and even one brave person on a stand-up paddleboard, all converged on Crosshaven to compete.
Our deadly rivals, friends and neighbours, Coigach Community Rowing, had a crew of 6 taking turns to row, as did the well-respected North Berwick team, while the Fizzers had 5 rotating between cox and rowers. The Corkers had Jan at the helm throughout, Kathryn as stroke, and the men in the other seats.
Despite a wet and windy forecast the day started sunny and fairly calm, but the wind built and the rain came in as the day wore on. Fortunately the wind and the tide were in our favour and we sped past Cobh, previously known as Queenstown, departure point of both the ill-fated voyages of the Titanic and the Lusitania. Ulla may have suffered from similar luck because a wine cork serving as a bung gave up and had to be replaced by a twig from a nearby tree about two-thirds up the course. This lead to a couple of other skiffs passing them, but such are the perils of the sea.
As the course narrowed into an exciting finish under a bridge in the middle of Cork there were several narrow squeaks with kayaks and currachs, but finally we all made it.
The Corkers came in third skiff with a creditable time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, N Berwick second, and in first place with quite a margin, Coigach.
Honourable mention must go to our support crew of Kathryn and Paul Bennett, who drove all the way towing both skiffs on one trailer, suffered double bearing failure and coped magnificently, and put up with foul driving weather. Also our flag-maker Sheila Slaughter and her husband, James, who were there at the start and the finish to see us come in.
It was a big trip for us all, and a memorable one; well done all for such a great effort!
Congratulations to The Corkers for finishing in such good time, and to The Fizzers for staying the course in such extenuating circumstances. Good show all round.