Head of the Dart 2017
A small, but perfectly formed, band of multi-national Royalies (Sandra, Colin, Bernice, Ruslan, Tony
and Ian) raced at the Head of the Dart on 1st April. With Paddlesports fielding 4 OC6 boats (they
generously made them all mixed to give us an even playing field) it was a great mini OC6 event
within a race that covered a wide range of rowing and coastal rowing boats. Starting at Totnes the
winding 15k estuary course meanders through a picturesque landscape, and we soon discovered
meandering was to be quite a feature of this race.
We started 5th of the 5 outriggers in nice flat water with a decent flow under us. Colin and Bernice
were soon thumping out a strong, steady rhythm and Tony was steering well in an unfamiliar boat on
a new course and Sandra’s change calls were precise and heard by all. We quickly caught and passed
the other Mirage in the race, and began to close on the next Paddlesports boat which, we soon
discovered, must have fitted “meandering radar” that picks up crews that might get past and steers
in front of them. Battle ensued for some 40 minutes like this with Royal losing round then regaining
it only to be thwarted by our oppo’s steerer who clearly had a picture of the last time he was on the
slopes carving turns across a glistening piste in his head. Even our placid, good natured smiling kiwi
started a few grumblings……but then the door opened and with a few choice words of
encouragement from your truly we started to move through. In all the excitement the command “
Bury the bleep bleep bleep” was heard by Bernice as bury the blade so down the blade went to the
bottom of the estuary to reshape the lower part of the riverbed. But we were through and paddled
strongly to the finish, being slightly delayed as we waited for the ferry that crossed just as we
approached the finish line in Dartmouth.
The whole town of Dartmouth came out to find out what all the noise was about after the finish line
as Ruslan encouraged all those coming towards it with a spirited set of whoops that would not have
gone amiss on those films where the Indians circle the wagons of the cowboys.
As we paddled in to take the boat out the “meandering paddler” in the shape of our own Joce “ cut
me in half and I am the colour of Royal blue” was sitting sheepishly in one of the Paddlesports boats
as the steerer….she mumbled some apology for sporting green but we accepted none of it….well
actually it was great and a display of the true spirit of the outrigger world in helping others out.
We were 3rd out of the 5 outriggers and took just over an hour for the course , some 1min 28sec
behind the winners. A great race, a great weekend ( most stayed down for a paddle the next day and
certainly one for the future with the organisers delighted to see us.