Stirring the monster – Loch Ness record attempt

This summer I’m swapping sails for oars with a really exciting ‘first’ AND an attempt to break the 26 year-old record for rowing the length of Loch Ness. The ‘first’ is the first trainera rowing boat to come to the UK (that I am aware of) – a truly fabulous design for a coastal racing boat from the Basque region of northern Spain.  

The boat has a big rowing crew of 13 – and in my team there are some seriously experienced endurance rowing veterans. We are sponsored by Aberdeen Standard and will be at Loch Ness for our attempt 25th-27th June.

It is hugely exciting to be making this attempt on a very tough record. It is a monster row too – a distance of over 20.5 miles. The crew is used to breaking rowing records and many of them have participated in the gruelling London-Paris rowing challenge. Even so, we will have to be in good form to beat the record. In theory it should have been beaten a long time ago but the conditions on Loch Ness are highly unpredictable. The weather has not been too great in recent weeks, but we’re hoping for an improvement.

What are we aiming to better? Well, former World Lightweight Sculling champion Peter Haining and his partner George Parsonage set the record a whopping 26 years ago in a double scull. It was in April 1993 that the pair completed the row up the Loch in 2 hours 28 minutes and 9 seconds. In recent years several crews have attempted to break it without success.

Our ‘trainera’ boat is a remarkable design which evolved from fishing boats used on the Bay of Biscay to become a high-performance boat used in coastal competitions. It is a fibreglass copy of the old fishing boats which has evolved to into a lightweight carbon fibre rowing machine. The popularity of the racing boats on the Basque coast mean the races draw crowds of thousands and the weekly races are televised to a large audience.

I am taking the helm and we have already joked that the soundof our ‘sardine boat’ design racing over the loch will be enough to wake the Loch Ness Monster from her slumbers. I have been after this boat for some time and thanks to the co-operation of Orio Rowing Club near Bilboa and support from Aberdeen Standard we have been able to get the boat on loan to stage a proper challenge to a number of Long Distance Rowing Records, one of which is Loch Ness. More bout our other plans later. 

Technically we are having to set a new record as Guinness Book of Records never ratified Peter and George’s record but have since recognised 2 Canoeing records and there is now an Annual Rowing Race “Monster of the Loch” over exactly the same course so it is only a matter of time before it becomes well established.

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