Training for the Row St Kilda to Skye fundraising challenge is continuing, with two of the three all-female coxswain team taking to the water for the first time this week.
The ambitious project to row an 18ft, 100-year-old boat from Village Bay on St Kilda to Portree, is due to be undertaken this summer in aid of the RNLI and the Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.
Joining the team of rowers are cox’s Rosie McDade, Cathryn Baillie and Gill Houlsby, all of whom were drafted in after the original cox, Stephanie Parsons, fell pregnant.
Rosie, whose partner Donnie Nicolson is the brains behind the scheme, said: “We have been joining the guys in the gym so they get used to us being there and also learning rowing techniques. Tuesday was the first time Cathryn and I have been on the water with them as coxes, so it was good to do.
“We have absolutely no experience of coxing so are all in the same boat, pardon the pun! It is all completely new so a little bit daunting, we still have a lot to learn – that became obvious last night! – but it is exciting.”
She added: “It will be up to us to keep their timing right and them rowing as fast as they can and keeping their ratio right – their concentration can go down if they are tired which means they slow down and the rowing takes more toil. So, it is up to us to pay attention and correct them and, most importantly, bail water! We will be keeping morale up and motivating them, as well as feeding them and making sure they are looking after themselves.”
Cathryn, whose partner Donald MacPhee is one of the rowers taking part, added: “I was going along to support them in training anyway so when Stephanie fell pregnant I joined – more than anything I was excited to go to St Kilda!
“Since joining we have been learning to row, there won’t be a lot of room out there so we want everyone to be able to do everything if need be, and also we need to learn the technique to keep the boys right. It will be great to be there to support them. We will just have to watch the weather in the summer then go when it’s right.”
The 100-mile challenge is anticipated to take 36 to 48 hours depending on conditions, with teams of four rowers and a cox taking shifts while their colleagues rest on the support vessel, the fishing boat ‘Dunan Star’.