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Porthmadog Race Report

Friday 10th April 2015 - Saturday 11th April 2015

Including Snowdon Adventure

On Thursday the 9th April our intrepid band of Wisemans missionaries embarked on their expedition to the wilds of North Wales for their weekend of adventures! The team included Brent, Nat and our youngest team mate Alys, Pappa Smurf and Caroline and Mo, Neil, Lowri, Lottie and their new family member, Brian. Thursday evening saw the rendezvous at The Ship Inn in Porthmadog at 8pm to discuss the plan as the locals eyed us suspiciously.

Friday dawned bright and sunny and at 11.00am we met in Llanberis to hike up Snowdon – Pappa Smurf shot up the hill like a mountain goat reaching the peak in around 2 hours with Caroline not far behind. The rest of us took a more sedentary 3 and a quarter hours whilst Brent, Nat and Alys took the train part way up and walked down (high winds meant the train couldn’t go up to the top). Alys enjoyed her first ever train journey and then surveyed the view on the way down with a smile on her face! The rest of us took photos at the top and then headed down before the mists and snow came in – an hour and forty minutes later saw us in the friendliest tea shop in Wales.. Possibly the world!! Over pots of tea, coffee and cakes in the quaint antique filled rooms we were actively encouraged to eat our own sandwiches and then were offered a parking space outside for next time as we left clutching our gift of Bara Brith!

Saturday morning again dawned bright and sunny after a night of storms, however we rescued Brian from the yellow brick road and bundled everyone into the back of the van for the harbour – special thanks to Nat for allowing Lowri and Lottie to be Alys helpers for the morning! Once the (very clean) boat was checked over, Neil ferried us to Pwhelli for the start. Neil returned to Porthmadog using a detour which unfortunately meant he missed the 9.30 minibus back, on the plus side, it meant he was about half a stone lighter for the boat! By 10.15 and the start of the cox’s brief, still no sign, then he wandered in having had a lift from a very kind Porthmadog rower!

Time to get the boats in as a stiff breeze whipped along the beach with a chill that would put hairs on a penguin’s chest! Caroline was pimped out to Borth Ladies (not at Jim’s request..) and with our quality bailers – ok two camping pans as we had no buckets, we were ready for our beach start.

Cox – Neil, Stroke – Mo, 2 – Jim, 3 – Brent and 4 – Brian the bow queen!

With the stunning white capped Snowdon as a backdrop we headed off, near the rear of the pack but as we settled into our rhythm, we picked off the competition boat by boat. With the strong wind whipping up the surf we used the conditions to progress through the pack until we were lying 4th vying for position with Porthmadog ladies and also a Porthmadog men’s boat with three other just up ahead.

An hour into the race – Neil gave Jim the ten minute warning to swap, however at this point conditions deteriorated and another ten minute warning was given in the hope of reaching calmer seas – At this point the call came on the radio to head for Criccieth – conditions were too dangerous to head over the sand bar into Porthmadog so we changed course for the shore. One contributing factor to the abandonment of the race was the rescue by the RNLI of one of the support vessels, another was that the winds had scaled up from force 5 to 6 as we surfed on the swell trying to get back as quickly as we could! At one point the large head of an inquisitive seal appeared in the trough of a swell probably wondering what on earth we were doing! Then as we rose over a particularly big wave Mo caught a very large crab and flew backwards into the boat facing up between a rather bemused Jim’s legs. Once Neil established there was no serious injury the crew were ordered to continue rowing through the swell as Mo regained her composure and position in the boat!

Eventually we pulled up onto Criccieth beach in fourth place, and without any more drama, we then rushed to assist with the other boats – some of which were coming in sideways on the breakers.

Trailers were collected from Porthamdog and lifts were given by a very organised team and we arrived back at the sailing club a little battered and ready for the hot soup and buffet that greeted us, as well as a free bottle of ‘Purple Moose’ beer!

Positions – Wisemans mixed ‘Wiser after the event’ 4th place (2nd Mixed) – time 1:29:36

Also Caroline rowing with Borth Ladies ‘Wise women of Borth’ 13th place (4th Ladies) – time 1:39:20 with an inexperienced crew and a cox who hadn’t coxed a race before! They were all presented with a very cute purple moose!

That evening saw partying at the sailing club with an excellent band as we celebrated Brian’s birthday with energetic dancing and a few pints to quench the thirst. Alys has shown herself to be a true Wisey, partying with everyone over the whole weekend!

Special thanks to Neil for doing the ferrying around and Porthmadog Rowing Club, particularly Leslie who organised a boat for us but also to everyone for making us feel so welcome and organising an excellent race in tough conditions!