By Mark Burgess
The gruelling yoal rowing race that circumnavigates Trondra took place last Friday evening.
This test of endurance, stamina and tactics is one of, if not the, longest rowing races staged in local waters. It encompasses a range of weather, sea and tidal conditions on the coastal route and further challenges competitors as it takes the form of a “hat race” in which boat crews are randomly assigned a boat in which to compete.
As discussed at the evening social event afterwards, the combination of circumstances reveal the level of science and skill perhaps overlooked regular rowing events as teams may fare very differently in the Trondra event than in other races. On this occasion crews from Nesting took all honours, winning both men’s, women’s and overall team prizes.
The evening began with the women’s event with the boats starting from abeam the small pier just south of the Trondra bridge, powering down the dramatic scenery of Clift sound in relatively calm sea condtions and light winds.
By the time they reached Stream Sound, between East Burra and Trondra, the Nesting team had already established a remarkable lead in the Burra yoal, which they maintained throughout the arduous stretch up the west coast of Trondra in more turbulent open water, before turning downwind for the final push through Scalloway harbour and around to the finish line below the Trondra bridge.
In second place were the Burra team in the Bigton yoal and third were the Bigton team in the Vidlin boat.
The men’s result was altogether less certain as the leading positions changed during the race and the top three teams remained in close proximity to each other right to the end.
The weather conditions and sea state deteriorated slightly as the evening drew on making for very choppy seas west of Trondra. Burra led for a substantial part of the race in the Bigton boat before the Nesting under-21 squad surged by them to take glory in the Burra boat. Third place was taken by Bigton in the Vidlin boat.
The race finale took on a more serious and dramatic tone as one of the Nesting senior competitors collapsed at the finish after sustaining an injury fairly early on the race and required medical assistance from an ambulance. He was taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital, from where he was later discharged once his wellbeing was established.
The rowing teams and spectators were invited to the Trondra Public Hall after the race finished for soup, sandwiches and refreshments. One of the soups on offer was the near-legendary fish soup recipe of Leslie Tait, which was a hearty reward for those present.
The Trondra race also functions as a fund-raiser for the Shetland Aid Trust and representative Brian Adamson was on hand to present prizes and thank the participants. The majority of the funds raised come from entry fees of the teams themselves, their generosity, and a raffle held, raising over £900 on the day.
Mr Adamson said: “I cannot emphasise enough how much I’d like to thank the Trondra rowing club and the Trondra hall and everybody that took part.”