Another year, another successful ‘Great Cumbrae Kayak Race’

26 Aug

Last Saturday saw the annual return of the ‘Great Cumbrae Kayak Race’. An event which before last year hadn’t run in 39 years!

With such a great reintroduction into the centre’s events programme in 2015, there was a lot for the 2016 race to live up to. As we started to ‘set up’ on Saturday morning, last year’s race was clear in our minds…it had been a day you only dream about on a Scottish summer’s day…calm, warm and packed full of sunshine. This year brought rain (lots of it!) and VERY strong winds. Still, as enthusiastic participants started to arrive, we wouldn’t be disheartened! Plans for the outside ‘reception’ were abandoned, fearing the marquee would end up in the Firth of Clyde! Race registrations were, wisely, taken indoors and proceedings got underway!

Like last year the race attracted a good number of entrants - 32 in total. It was also great to see so many of the same paddlers from last year, whilst having the opportunity to welcome new participants to the event. We were particularly delighted to see the return of the same 3 junior racers. Watch out for these 3 when they’re old enough to enter the adult race!

This year’s race began with a challenging start - with the clapotis causing quite a few issues! However, once the race got underway, things quickly settled and paddlers found their stride, finishing with impressive times (results are listed in the table below).

Once the final participants were back on dry land, it was time for a much welcomed BBQ, though this year it was enjoyed indoors, in the comfort of the centre’s lounge, with the Olympics on for some extra entertainment. Better still, the day coincided with the great news that Team GB’s Liam Heath had won the Gold medal in the the individual 200m kayak sprint event.

A huge THANKS from Cumbrae to all participants who helped make this such a special event! Special congratulations has to go to Calum Urquhart (overall winner), Lizelle Kemp (1st Female) and Archie Anderson (1st Junior). Once again, a special mention has to go to Andrew Morton, who having won 1st place in the race back in 1976, was back participating again and on tremendous form; taking 2nd place no less!

Finally, many thanks to participants for their valued feedback, a selection of which is included below:

“Thank you for organising the race - a great day out after we got that rather challenging start out of the way!!!” (Jane Egan).

“A great day with fab folks AGAIN, the racing was tough and full-on as it should be. Big Big THANKS to sportscotland Cumbrae and Lorraine for braving the elements with her camera” (Kevin Locke).

“Thanks very much for a wonderful event yesterday. It’s a huge pleasure attending a well organised race with fantastic facilities to boot” (Lizelle Kemp).

As promised here’s the race results:

PositionNameCategoryRace No.Start TimeFinish TimeElapsed TimePodium
1Calum UrquhartM1113001429.321 29.321st Male
2Andrew MortonM713001431.181 31.182nd Male
3Brian TurnbullM3113001432.061 32.063rd Male
4Neil TurnbullM3013001435.231 35.23
5Gilbert SpiersM813001436.111 36.11
6Kevin LockeM1013001436.171 36.37
7Lizelle KempF113001438.441 38.441st Female
8Douglas WilbyM2413001440.591 40.59
10Alan HunterM3413001446.431 46.43
9Kevin RamsayM1613001441381 41.38
11Martin TongeM2213001448281 48.28
12Mark PetersM2513001457111 57.11
13Malcolm StubbsM913001457421 57.42
14Peter MackmanM2613001502152 02.15
15Tim StuartM3613001506442 06.44
16 Chris NicholM513001506562 06.56
17Susan SmithF2713001507392 07.392nd Female
18Andy DicksonM1913001528122 28.12
19Jane EganF1713001528132 28.133rd Female
20Peter HarrisonM2313001528362 28.36
21Ewan WalkerM1313001529522 29.52
22Gordon DobbieM613001530042 30.04
23Ben BeachellM2113001534222 34.22
24Rob AndersonM1413001542172 42.17
RetiredRace No.
Steven WhippM12
Kate DixF20
Alan MurrayM28
Paul BunisM32
Paul HillM35
Junior RaceNameCategoryRace No.Start TimeFinish TimeElapsed Time (mins)Podium
1Archie AndersonJ4130013152415.241st Junior
2Greg BunisJ33130013152915.292nd Junior
3Harvie AndersonJ3130013153315.333rd Junior

We’ve put a selection of photos on Facebook and you can access these via the below links:

Photos of the Start of the Race

Photos of the Junior Race

Photos of the Race Finish

Photos of Medal Winners

By Calum

Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge host the UK’s first 2 Day Sea Kayak and SUP Symposium

23 Aug

Paddlesports are becoming increasingly popular, with Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), in particular, being the world’s fastest growing watersport. Both Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge are at the heart of this growth and development within Scotland. Therefore, it was a natural fit that both centres joined together on the weekend of 12-14th August to offer participants a symposium celebrating Sea Kayaking and SUP. Guest coaches were present and the 26 participants experienced an exciting mix of workshops, talks and demos throughout the course of the event.

We’ve charted a diary of the weekend’s activities below:

Friday 12th August - The Symposium gets underway

It’s a wet and windy Friday night as guest coaches arrive with a selection of boards for participants to try out over the weekend.

Participants arrive in advance of the symposium ‘Welcome’ talk.

Our first guest speaker, Zoe Newsam, gets the weekend underway with an insightful talk to guests:

Zoe Newsam's insightful talk
Zoe Newsam delivering an insightful talk

There’s plenty of material as Zoe has paddled on the sea in a wide variety of locations: the Hebrides, Shetland, Northern Ireland and the Irish West Coast, Anglesey, North and South Wales, the Southwest and Northeast of England, and on rivers in the UK, Canada, Slovenia and the French Alps!

It’s a great start to the weekend and everyone is looking forward to getting onto the water the next day.

Saturday 13th August - Our first day on the water

We needn’t have worried about the weather as Friday night’s conditions have cleared and the next two days bring plenty of sunshine.

The kayaks and SUPs are out on display in front of the centre today and it’s great to see such a wide range of kit making its way over for the symposium. Demo boats from P&H, Pyranha, Think & Jobe SUP Boards are all available for participants to try.

Demo kit
Demo kit

The time has come to get on the water so the coaches head out to lead the workshops. Caroline Carr and Sam Dean deliver a SUP session:

First morning's SUP session
First morning’s SUP session

Today’s other sessions include a ‘Sea Performance Clinic’ with Matt Haydock. This is a practical workshop, looking at how to get the most of the body boat blade. This workshop also includes tactical choices for what strokes to use and when.

Matt Haydock heading out to the south of the island
Matt Haydock heading out to the south of the island

There’s a ‘Sea Kayak manoeuvring and handling’ workshop headed up by Zoe Newsam. Zoe provides a practical workshop with great advice on how to control your kayak when the wind or waves are pushing you around!

Zoe Newsam with her group
Zoe Newsam with her group

Myles Farnbank leads a very practical and extremely interesting ‘coastal wild food and fire lighting’ session:

Myles Farnbank introducing the group to the delights of wild food
Myles Farnbank introducing the group to the delights of wild food


It’s been a great day around Cumbrae, with various workshops/sessions taking place. We’re all looking forward to the BBQ and band this evening!

Saturday night’s Entertainment

Before the band gets underway guests are treated to 2 guest speakers, Andrew Morton and Duncan Winning. Andrew delivers a fantastic talk on: “Bagpipes, aerosols and keeping kayaks running in a straight line!”. Not surprisingly this is a fascinating talk from a man who’s not stopped canoeing for more than a few months in the past fifty years!

Andrew Morton's enlightening presentation
Andrew Morton’s enlightening presentation

Next up is Duncan Winning. Duncan gives a slideshow presentation about a recent trip he and Gordon Brown (owner of Skyak Adventures) carried out to Greenland; tracing the history of the modern sea kayak to its ancestral home.

Duncan Winning's historical insight into kayaking
Duncan Winning’s historical insight into kayaking

It’s time for music

Guests are treated to Donal Boyle, with a 3 piece live band, playing acoustic folk music. Donal is a past Cumbrae instructor and is always delighted to get a chance to come back to the centre. Some guests stay up into the wee small hours!

Winding down at the end of the night
Winding down at the end of the night

Sunday 14th August - A second day of fun and challenges

It’s been a late night for some but, after a hearty breakfast, guests are beginning to feel refreshed and ready for today’s activities.

Today’s sessions include many of the workshops from yesterday, giving participants a chance not to miss out. An addition for today is ‘Sea Kayak Sailing’, a workshop delivered by Cumbrae’s Tim Stuart, looking at the world of modern sea kayaking. Sea kayaks are all set up and ready to go to help participants capture the wind. This workshop looks at a variety of aspects, including boat set up.

Zoe Newsam takes participants out on a local full day trip, including practical navigation. It proves to be a great workshop for those new to the area and looking for a little help along the way.

Calum McNicol leads a ‘British Canoeing Discipline support module’ on SUP. This is full day, interactive workshop, covering areas such as how to get others into the discipline of SUP:

Calum McNicol gets the British Canoeing SUP module underway
Calum McNicol gets the British Canoeing SUP module underway

The weekend comes to an end

Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge reflect back on a weekend packed full of activity. What’s clear is that participants and coaches alike seem to have had a fantastic weekend on the island:

“Thanks for a great Symposium, we really enjoyed it. Easy to book and very accommodating. Food great, tuition great, informative and patient. Lovely to find great coaches who can find solutions to challenges. Like me not being able to get back on that SUP!” (Suzanne and John Roberts).

“A lovely, friendly, relaxed event - looking forward to next year already” (Zoe Newsam)

“What a superb weekend of SUP! Big thanks to Dave, Calum, Caroline and Sam!” (Nick Evens)

One participant summed up the event:

“A great event, with a good balance of coaching between SUP and sea kayak, allowing participants to focus on one discipline, or mix and match. There was an excellent selection of new boats and boards to try. Great food and a fairly quiet, yet accessible location”.

By Calum

‘Sailing for Gold’ on the Clyde

19 Aug

On the 17th and 18th August, the RYA Scotland hosted a very special ‘Sail for Gold’ event at Quayside, Glasgow.

The event saw around 200 pupils, from 8 primary schools, take to the waters around the Riverside Museum. sportscotland Cumbrae led the ‘on the water’ activities under the leadership of Cumbrae’s instructor, Charlotte MacBeath. Other Cumbrae staff we also on hand to help things run smoothly.

Children out on the 'hansas'
Children out on the ‘hansas’

On-the-water fun for the school kids

The sun shone for the entire event, from set-up on the Tuesday, right through to close on the Thursday, serving to make it even more of a spectacular event. Seeing the children out on the water in ‘hansas’, with the backdrop of the Tall Ship and the Riverside Museum was something to behold. It was great to see the youngsters getting so much out of their experience, made even more special as some Team GB sailors were present all throughout, offering encouragement, advice and of course INSPIRATION!

As one teacher commented:

‘Three days into term and it’s going to be difficult to beat this as a highlight for them this year’.

The Tall Ship and Riverside Museum make for a stunning backdrop
The Tall Ship and Riverside Museum make for a stunning backdrop

Sparking National Interest

On the first morning of the event, ‘BBC Breakfast’ had a live feed to Quayside and later that day one of the presenter’s interviewed Cumbrae’s Chief Instructor David Frame:

BBC interview Cumbrae's David Frame
BBC interview Cumbrae’s David Frame

Watch the interview here (nb. David comes on around the 13min mark)

Outdoors Race Screenings

A large outdoor screen was put up on both evenings of the event to allow 100+ plus ticketholders to watch live medal races of the Olympic Sailing taking place in Rio. People had come to watch both Luke Patience and Charlotte Dobson trying to secure medals, both of these sailors passing through Cumbrae over the years. Unfortunately,on the first night, conditions in Rio meant that that no racing took place,however spirits remained high as the crowd gathered in the sunshine.

Team TB sailors waiting to support their collegues on screen
Team TB sailors waiting to support their collegues on screen

The next evening did bring race screenings and although the Scottish hopefuls on Team GB didn’t secure medals they had impressive performances over the course of the games and can be proud of their achievements!

All in all the 2 days on the Clyde were truly special and will have a golden place in the memories of all involved!

By Calum

Join Cumbrae for RYA’s ‘Sail for Gold’ Roadshow, Glasgow, 17-18th Aug

11 Aug

Come and help cheer on TEAM GB Sailors!

Looking for something unique to do in Glasgow on the evening of either 17th or 18th August? Look no further. To celebrate the Rio 2016 Games, RYA Scotland is hosting a special ‘Sail for Gold’ event and Cumbrae is proud to be a delivery partner, helping to make this a truly fantastic celebration of sailing!

Cumbrae’s Olympic connection

Cumbrae’s delighted to be involved in ‘Sail for Gold’, particularly as we’ll be able to show our support for our local athletes competing in Rio: Luke Patience and Charlotte Dobson. Both Luke and Charlotte have trained at the Centre over the years! In fact it was Cumbrae’s chief instructor, David Frame, who first selected London 2012 Silver Medallist Luke for the development team many years ago. Charlotte, like Luke, trained at Cumbrae during her RYA squad years. She’s currently making her Olympic in a new event for Rio, the 49erFX.

Helping to Get Kids involved

During the morning and afternoon of both event days, school pupils from 8 local schools will be out on the waters around the Riverside museum, getting a little taster in sailing. Cumbrae instructors will be delivering the on-the-water activities taking place.

Scottish members of the British Sailing Team who aren’t in Rio will be sailing alongside the pupils and offering analysis and commentary during the races. These include Eilidh MacIntyre, daughter of Scots Olympic Gold Medallist Mike MacIntyre; Anna Burnett from Helensburgh, Rory Hunter from Arran, Fynn Sterritt from Kingussie and Flora Stewart, originally from Edinburgh.

So…it’s all set to be an exciting few days!

Good luck Luke and Charlotte from everyone at Cumbrae!

By Calum

A podium spot for Cumbrae’s Dan and crew of Derry~Londonderry~Doire!

01 Aug

After 11 months, the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World Race came to an end on Friday evening with the completion of Race 14, ‘Den Helder to London’. This last race saw Cumbrae’s Dan Smith, skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and crew, secure another race win, taking their total to an impressive 4 wins throughout the 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation.

A Podium Spot

Everyone at Cumbrae is immensely proud of Dan as Derry~Londonderry~Doire took SECOND PLACE overall out of the 12 yachts taking part this year. What’s more it was an extremely close finish, with only 4 points separating the first and second spot! The top 3 places were as follows:

  1. LMAX Exchange (152 points)
  2. Derry~Londonderry~Doire (148 points)
  3. GREAT Britain (126 points)


    On Saturday, the race fleet performed a colourful Parade of Sail on the River Thames. Many spectators gathered at St Katharine Docks to celebrate the race finish and the prize giving ceremony.

    Returning to Scotland

    In an interview earlier this year with Dan, he commented that:

    ‘Despite there being some awesome ocean views and incredible coastlines around the world I’ve missed the scenery of Scotland’s coastline. Ironically one of the furthest places away, Tasmania, reminded me most of home. It had a similar rocky coastline to that of Skye’.

    He also talked about missing his bike and said he was looking forward to getting out on the trails again after the race finish.

    So WELL DONE Dan, now you can enjoy the cycling!

    By Calum

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