Every year for the last 5, Porthgain rowing club have created a race for pilot gigs, long boats and any other craft willing to negotiate the challenging course around Ramsey Island off the coast of St Davids, Pembrokeshire.
I have rowed it with the girls nearly every year, but this year I wasn't in the team who had been training together so I didn't think i would get to row. But then one rower could not make the event so I volunteered to stand in their place. At the time of offering I didn't realise they had a hope of winning this year, then I got a bit worried to say the least as I had not been in a boat for over a year.
With only a few weeks untill the race I only managed to get in a half hour row to see if I could do that, then an hour row which I managed to do and then a final half hour sitting in a new position, a slight technique change and double checking seating position was comfortable in the boat we were racing in.
On saturday we were all nervous, but this turned to excitement as more and more boats turned up on the beach, in the end there were 21 boats competing which was the most we had ever seen, the weather was fantastic, even with a fairly strong breeze it was welcomed to cool us off in the blazing sun.
We started the race at 3 o clock, keeping it a steady pace untill we got a third of the way around to the most critical part of the race where we have to go single file through a gap in the cliffs called the tooth. By that point we had put in a huge effort and just managed to overtake the leading ladies crew and then we managed to sustain it after the tooth. Thanks to the fantastic coxing of Tom, taking great lines around the cliffs we managed to put more and more boat lengths between the two ladies boats.
Before we knew it we were leaving Ramsey Island and were heading back to Whitesands beach, where we put in another effort to take a mixed crew just before the finish line making us the winning ladies crew on the day, 9th overall and in a time of 1 hour and 14 minutes.
We were all very happy and proud we'd finally had a win after 5 years of trying. We all got trophies, had quiche and beer on the beach and then headed off to the Celiedh for more merryment and celebrating.