The JBT Inverness Winter Head Regatta was held last weekend on the waters of the Caledonian Canal with crews coming from across Scotland to take part in one of the most important events in the Scottish rowing calendar, racing over a 4.5Km course from Dochgarroch to the rowing club's boathouse close to Tomnahurich Bridge. The majority of universities and rowing clubs from Scotland were represented competing in various class of boats from single sculls to the eights as rowed by the university crews in the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race on the Thames. Inverness Rowing Club entered a competitive number of crew boats with varied success and represented the local club well in the process.
Racing took place over two days each comprising of two divisions with a few hundred competitors in each division. The spectacular sight of each rowing club's colours reflecting on the water at the start of the course at Dochgarroch was a sight to behold and with increased use of the canal bank after the opening of the West Link road it was evident more local people were able to witness the spectacle for themselves.
Host club members from Inverness Rowing Club achieved significant success with a fine win for Women's Veteran Quad Sculls (Katie Van Exan stroke, Hazel Smith, Hazel Geddes, Sarah Brennan) (18 minutes 28 seconds) A good second place and one of the fastest times ever for an Inverness RC crew in Men's Veteran eights (Neil Wallace stroke) (16 minutes 20 seconds) - this crew is off to race in Aberdeen next weekend and then to Amsterdam on 10/11th March for the two day international Heineken Roeivierkamp. Other second places were achieved for Veteran Coxed Quad Sculls (Jude McManus stroke) (20 minutes 37 seconds) who were over a minute faster on the water than the winners but not sufficient to overcome the 66 second age handicap and Veteran Coxless Pairs (Robert Gordon stroke) who failed by just 5 seconds to overcome the 75 second handicap in their event. Meanwhile, other Inverness club members racing performed with distinction over the two days of competition. Inverness junior crews included the J17 Boys Coxless Quad - Fraser Wallace, Alex Todd, Ally Addison and Archie Grey who took second place in J18 4X behind Clydesdale ARC. This is a new crew with the potential to surprise some of the stronger clubs this season. Racing on both days, Megan Keith and Abi Davidson entered Women's J16 Double Sculls and Women's Novice Double Sculls and achieved their best placing on Sunday - 3rd out of 5 - but their best time on Saturday ( 20 minutes 37 seconds). As natural lightweights Megan and Abi face larger, stronger opposition, and rely on good technique and timing to help their speed. The Inverness Novice Girls eight raced a steady pace in their first ever Head. Morven Scott and Melissa Murray from Nairn Academy only started sweeping a few weeks ago, and both blended into the crew really well. Special mention to Emma Bidwell who filled a seat at the last minute and fitted right in. The Novice Boys Quad Sculls crew raced against tough opposition but was well supported by cox Fergus Whitson and replacement bow Lexie Leaver. Eve Macleay helped a visiting Veteran Crew from Tay RC and collected a medal for her efforts!
An Edinburgh University BC Mixed Eight recorded the fastest time of the regatta with a fine time of 14 minutes 26 seconds, whilst the fastest time in winning the Men's Open Eights event was recorded by a composite crew from Castle Semple RC/Stirling RC in 15 minutes 19 seconds in division 1 on the Saturday, this crew also winning the Men's Veteran Eights event in the faster time of 14 minutes 36 seconds in division 2 on the same day. Edinburgh University BC recorded the fastest time of 16 minutes 28 seconds in the Women's Open Eights event.
In Quad Sculls events, a J16 crew from Clydesdale ARC were the fastest men's crew recording a time of 16 minutes 5 seconds whilst a J18 crew from Glasgow Academy/Glasgow Schools RC were the fastest women's crew posting a time of 17 minutes 11 seconds. Fastest crews in Coxless Fours events were recorded by the men from Strathclyde University BC in a time of 16 minutes 10 seconds and the women's crew from the Edinburgh University BC in a time of 17 minutes 3 seconds. Fastest Crews in Coxed Fours events were recorded by the men's crew from Edinburgh University BC in a time of 16 minutes 0 seconds with a women’s crew from the same university recording a time of 18 minutes 6 seconds.
In Coxless Pairs events, fastest men's crew came from Strathclyde University BC in 17 minutes 25 seconds whilst a J18 crew from Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association was the fastest women's crew in a time of 19 minutes 16 seconds. In Double Sculls events, the fastest men's crew came from Glasgow Academy in a time of 16 minutes 26 seconds with a Strathclyde Park RC crew achieving the distinction of fastest women's crew in a time of 18 minutes 7 seconds. A Glasgow Academy member was the fastest men's single sculler recording a time of 17 minutes 30 seconds with a sculler from the same school recording the fastest women's time of 19 minutes 49 seconds.
The Scottish Students Head events took place on both days. Some fine competitive performances were achieved with honours being shared fairly evenly between the university crews taking part.
The next Inverness Regatta will be held in November but in the meantime should anyone wish to get involved and try rowing then they should make contact with the club through the club website.