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Burghead rowers take place at heart of sport's community – as 'most average' crew in global Castle to Crane race

By Lorna Thompson

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BURGHEAD rowers are the only trophy winners in a global virtual race – for being "the most average" crew – embodying the spirit of the coastal rowing community.

The Burghead Coastal Rowing Club crew said they'd "never been so chuffed to be so average", taking the Crane’s Median Trophy 2020 in this year's radically altered Castle to Crane event.

The team accepted the trophy on behalf of the whole 118-strong fleet in a five-mile time trial which attracted crews from around the world.

In normal times, Castle to Crane is a 13-mile race up the River Clyde from Dumbarton Castle to Finnieston Crane, in the centre of Glasgow. It is the largest open-water rowing event in Scotland as part of the Clydebuilt Festival.

This year, however, to keep rowers afloat during the pandemic, organisers the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association changed the format to the home-based time trial over the weekend of September 19-20.

The Burghead Coastal Rowing Club crew, from front, Rob Manisty, Hazel Cowan, Lessley Botha, Caroline Dunbar, and cox Julie Stewart.
The Burghead Coastal Rowing Club crew, from front, Rob Manisty, Hazel Cowan, Lessley Botha, Caroline Dunbar, and cox Julie Stewart.

Around 680 athletes, forming 118 crews, took part virtually, completing their own course from home waters, including entrants from Tasmania, Australia, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Some kayaked, walked or used stand-up paddleboards to participate due to local Covid-19 regulations.

The Burghead team rowed in their St Ayles Skiff – a 22-foot, four-oared boat – named "Tarbh Uisge", which is Gaelic for "water bull" in a nod to the carvings of bulls by Pictish settlers in the coastal village.

The club's Sue Fenton said: "It was great to feel part of the global fixed-seat rowing community and to be back on the water.

"Everyone was a winner, just by being able to take part."

Burghead club captain and cox of the Castle to Crane crew Julie Stewart said: "We are so proud of our little club. We were determined to get back on the water as soon as permitted and have put in place Covid-19 measures as per guidance.

"We feel that we represent the essence of Scottish coastal rowing and are delighted to be recognised as being in the heart of the rowing community by virtue of winning the Median trophy."

Teams from Findochty and Nairn also took part.

The Burghead club welcomes new members. Information can be found on Facebook and the website at https://burgheadcoastalrowingclub.co.uk .

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