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Castle to Castle

Saturday 9th May 2015

Beaumaris to Caernarfon

Crew- In Elen (58)
Cox- Gabi
Stroke- Bryony
3- Peter J
Bow- Caroline
Return vehicle duties-Polly.

The day began with an air of expectation as I nervously checked to see, from 06:30 onwards, what had been posted as the race decision.
07:05 I winged a text to the Crew that some four minutes earlier the message
“It’s on!!” had been posted by Elin of RWYC. Pure relief and elation!
My long awaited desire to row the Castle to Castle, from Beaumaris to Caernarfon, along the beautiful Menai Straits was about to be fulfilled thanks to the above Crew and the generosity and helpfulness of the RWYC, Royal Welsh Yacht Club, Caernarfon Rowers, in allowing us to borrow their boat Elen.

Diolch I chi gyd, thanks to you all! And the weather fairies none less!
Having met up with my fellow Crew members at the Premier Inn for an early 08:00 breakfast, contrary to what some believe, although there were indeed six breakfasts consumed, only one of these was by me, albeit consisting of four dishes!
So duly fuelled up we made our respective ways to Beaumaris, with myself having arranged a shuttle lift from Dros yr Aber (Aber Foreshore) with one of the RWYC

Volunteer drivers, only to discover that Chris and Phil, our Llanion cousins, were on board as well.
There was a real buzz of excitement at the Royal Angelsey Yacht Club, Beaumaris, where the customary pre race hot drinks and snacks were available. Before long this was to become a buzz of anticipation as Gabi and the other coxes attended their briefing, behind closed doors.

No sooner done than we then had the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with “Elen” and also just before launching for the start line, my sister Valerie and her husband ,Bedwyr, who had come to see us off and capture us on film for posterity (of a sorts!)

Starting sequence complete and the fleet of 23 boats were under way. Bryony quickly settled us into our rhythm the Wiseman’s way, long and strong and Gabi ensured we kept it together. We were right in the mix and soon we left both Beaumaris Castle and Pier to their magnificent vista of the Snowdonia mountains beyond.

Onwards passed Bangor Pier,”Aye”, with, for me ,fond memories of tea ,scones and ice cream with my Mother, at the café at the Pier end.
Then shouts of “Oggie! Oggie!Oggie!” from the lead boats as they passed under Telford’s spectacular Suspension Bridge ,with a small, but appreciative ,crowd above. As we pass under a selfie shout of “Come on the Bridge!” and yet again, as we announce our approach under Stephenson’s Bridge, as well as our intention to close down on a Porthmadog ladies Crew.
Gabi’s turn to show her metal now , as our Madog crew are insistent that our tight shoreline course be no less tighter ,and so with our decision made easy for us a call of “10 hard” and some , eased us into more open waters and left them in our wake.
With our line carefully calculated and with the elements on our side the notorious Swellies were not as we powered on through, long and strong with our Metronomic Menai rhythm! Although we did hear later that some crews were not as fortunate as us had danced upon the swirls!

Onwards along the Menai, passed Kyffin’s old abode, Nelson’s salute and Plas Neywdd on the Angelsey shore. Onwards to the voices of another crew to be chased down and to be left to ponder the Wiseman’s Way!
Open water now, and with none to pressure us there is almost the atmosphere of a Tea and Toast row, with just a little extra edge, as we first row by Felinheli (Port Dinorwic) and then Plas Menai, with exhilarating memories of sea kayak jaunts and the home of the RWYC” livery yard “.

Ever nearer now to Caernarfon as a head wind picks up, and so we dig in , still keeping it long and strong through the chop we all thrive on back at the Bridge!
As we sight our only real company, a Crew on a wide Angelsey shoreline course.
We briefly ponder why? We have our own race to row.
Soon I recognise the all familiar stony shore of Waterloo Port and Alalas, where in my boyhood I picked blackberries from the brambles that lay adjacent to the shore and discovered more interesting fruits in my teenage years!
With my grin broadening visibly and internally, the expectation of the Porth yr Aur finish line beckoning, we pass by the old Pier Head ,where a young PJ attempted to spear grey mullet with a home made bow and nail tipped arrow!
Victoria Dock now and the quayside wall , which keeps at bay the invading waves just as the Old Town Walls kept its Norman occupants from danger. Within it housed St Mary’s Church and for me one last and lasting memory of 25.08.81,as if etched on my heart.
A final flurry to finish in style with 10 hard, and some, and a jubilant shout of “Croeso I Gaernarfon” from a certain *Cofi Dre who had had a **Ras I Gofio!

Race Result- Wiseman’s Bridge Mixed Supavets –1st in Class
10th/23 in a time of 1:52:13

Acknowledgements-Thank you to the members of the RWYC for organising such a successful and enjoyable event both on and off the water. The welcome was second to none and the pre and post race atmosphere was testament to this.
A very sincere and big DIOLCH especially for allowing us to use Elen(58) without which our participation and the fulfilment of my ambition would not have been possible.
Finally to my marvellous Wisey Crew members, who realised how special this race event was to me and our Llanion “cousins” who were great company on our meal out at the Black Buoy later that Saturday night. Diolch eto.

*the term used for a “native” of Caernarfon;
** a Race to Remember.