The sportscotland Sea Kayak Festival took place in August at the National Watersports Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae. The festival, formerly known as the Sea Kayak Symposium, took on a different feel this year and looked to welcome new paddlers to the wonderful sport. Over the weekend, there were a variety of workshops and clinics on offer in topics including kayak manoeuvring and handling, practical navigation, turning in wind and waves and race techniques. Taking place as part of the festival was the Great Cumbrae Sea Kayak race. Over 40 paddlers from beginners to elite took to the waters surrounding Cumbrae across the weekend.
The wind and weather forecast for the weekend kept the organisers on their toes with strong south winds for Saturday and Sunday. This turned out to be the case and although at times the sea state and wind make for challenging paddling, the island location meant it wasn’t too difficult to find relative shelter.
Cumbrae Senior Instructor and Festival organiser Calum McNicol said, “It was great to be able to introduce people to the sport and offer them a variety of options at the festival including the race, which goes from strength to strength.
“50% of the race participants were first time racers who saw the course as a challenge and embraced the distance and the conditions with the necessary enthusiasm. It was great to see competitors come from all over the country and beyond, placing the Great Cumbrae kayak race on the map.”
The Saturday evening saw participants relax and socialise with a BBQ and prizegiving. The evening entertainment was led by expedition paddler, adventurer and Olympian, Patrick Winterton.
Patrick entertained the group with tales of his ultra-long-distance paddling expeditions, including Scotland to the Faroe Isles and Scotland to Norway. What came across throughout was his genuine enthusiasm for paddling, in particular the opportunities and accessibility of the sport in the UK.
Calum reflected, “It was a real privilege to welcome Patrick back to Cumbrae, who won the race back in 2017. He really pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in a sea kayak, and is a passionate ambassador of the sport and what it offers right on our doorstep."
Following the weekend, paddler and race participant Andy Morton said, “I would encourage anyone who has a quest for adventure to try sea kayak racing. It’s a great adventure and we have more than a few great venues on the racing circuit. Hopefully events like this continue to grow as we encourage more first-time entrants and younger racers to take part.”
Details of winners and times from the Great Cumbrae Sea Kayak Race can be found on the blog section of our website.