Perth to Wormit Row 2023

After a week of intense weather-watching, the local forecast for Saturday 15 April finally looked like it had decided to play ball, and with the promise of light winds, sunny intervals and mild temperatures, it was All Systems Go for the 2023 Perth to Wormit Cruise.

The day began brisk, bright, and early, with skiffs and crews for the first leg of the Cruise arriving at Perth Sailing Club, helping each other with moving trailers and lifting and shifting skiffs into position for the eleven o’ clock start.  This year, in addition to the Wormit hosts, a record number of clubs were taking part: Broughty, Crail, Dundee, Elie & St Monans, Kinghorn, Loch Tay, Newburgh, Perth, St Andrews, Anstruther and Troon.  The resulting sociable scene at Perth, with friends meeting up, exchanging tips and admiring the skiffs, set the tone for the rest of the day.  Energy levels having been topped up thanks to the welcome hot drinks and biscuits provided by the Perth team, the boats took to the Tay, and with a cheery toot on the Perth Commodore’s vuvuzela the flotilla set off.  The seven miles to Newburgh passed quickly, with crews taking in the changing scenery, shouting greetings to the sliding seat rowers of Dundee University’s Inchyra club as they passed and trying to look their best for the photographer hitching a ride on one of the two safety boats which this year were providing additional reassurance for the participants.

As they arrived at Newburgh slipway the skiffs, now conveniently spread out, were expertly guided in by the beachmaster and safely brought alongside for the crew change.  Those getting into boats had in many cases to be dragged away from the excellent refreshments laid on by the Newburgh club, but were soon on their way down river on the testing nine-mile leg to Balmerino.  By now the breeze had picked up, and crews found themselves contending with some choppy conditions as they rowed past Flisk Point and from there across Balmerino Bay and to the foreshore for the next crew change.  Their arrival coincided with a second Wormit skiff, Tatha, rowing up from Woodhaven to rendezvous with the main flotilla, and after a  mostly seamless changeover – one rower helping to push a skiff off the beach and into the river only realising as it began to row away that he was supposed to be to onboard, requiring a hasty recovery and embarkation before a slightly flustered second departure – they were all safely away.

The final three-and-a-bit miles to Wormit saw the safety boats coming into their own, one continuing to sweep the rear of the flotilla while the other went to the assistance of a skiff grounding on one of the many sandbars appearing in this part of the river as the tide receded.  No harm done, and by three o’ clock arriving skiffs were being organised by the beachmaster and recovered on to their trailers by the vigilant and efficient shore party.  Those coming ashore were joined by rowers from the first two legs, the behind-the-scenes arrangements made by clubs to get their rowers to and from each leg of the Cruise clearly having worked as intended, and all were treated to a spread of home baking, soup-making and tasty treats courtesy of Wormit’s renowned galley crew.  The Tay glistened and stories were shared as rowers, helpers and supporters mingled in the late afternoon sunshine.  All agreed that it had been an excellent day, challenging, fun-filled and safely delivered, and as they set off homeward, skiffs in tow, were keen to repeat the experience next year.  Thanks are due to all those who contributed to the planning and delivery of a successful Cruise, in particular for the fantastic support provided by Perth and Newburgh, and in anticipation of doing it all again in 2024!

Dai John