Kelvin TOP-SET endeavours to encourage local enterprise, sport and health in the community, and as such, sponsors a wide range of activities, from the Comrie Film Society, to sea kayak racing on the coastal waters of Scotland.
One of our Senior Tutors, Andrew Morton, has raced kayaks for almost 50 years and is a great sea kayaking enthusiast. In the seventies and eighties, sea races were very popular, with most of the races taking place on the Clyde. There used to be a circular race from Duck Bay marina on Loch Lomond, down the River Leven to Dumbarton, back up Loch Long to Arrochar, a lift over to Tarbet and back down Loch Lomond to Duck Bay. “All in one day?” I hear you ask. No, not quite – a weekend race over Saturday and Sunday, but still a substantial undertaking. There were many shorter races too, for the less ambitious. These were centred at Gourock, Greenock, Largs, and also at Irvine, where our new TOP-SET headquarters are situated. Local businesses used to sponsor the Irvine race, and it was always a most popular race, with prizes as big as televisions on offer!
Unfortunately, all these races eventually disappeared until there were no sea races at all on the Scottish racing calendar. In fact, kayak racing almost disappeared totally until an enterprising kayaker by the name of Gus Brydon reintroduced a sea kayak race five years ago, starting and finishing in Oban, and comprising a circuit of the island of Kerrera, a total distance of over 12 miles. The £25 entry fee went to the RNLI, and each year close to £2,000 has been raised for this worthy cause every year with up to 85 competitors taking up the challenge.
It quickly became clear that this had become a popular sport again, so Andrew Morton with the help of his canoe racing partner, Gilbert Speirs, set about reviving sea kayak racing on the Forth and Clyde estuaries. Last year, with sponsorship from Kelvin TOP-SET, they got the Forth Challenge race started, then encouraged the Scottish Watersports Centre on Cumbrae to organise a race round their island. Now for the first time for over 13 years, the Tail o’ the Bank race is being resurrected by the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club (RWSABC), based at the Greenock Esplanade. The ‘Tail’ race was first started in 1976, and Andrew won the race 19 times over a period of 26 years.
When asked what he was thinking with regards to the events, Andrew said with a cheeky smile “I am particularly looking forward to racing again this year, although at 69 I’m not quite so quick as I used to be!”
With three new sea kayak races on the calendar this year for the first time in many years, Kelvin TOP-SET has generously agreed to sponsor all three events and to provide trophies for the overall male and female winners.
The Race Calendar:
- The Forth Challenge – June 25th 2016
- The Great Cumbrae Kayak Race – 20th August 2016
- The Tail O’ The Bank – 3rd September 2016
We are looking forward to some exciting competition.
Photos and results to follow in September!