Cardigan Bay Challenge 2024 Sialens Bae Aberteifi
Fantastic results for Aberdyfi!

The Cardigan Bay Challenge 2024 Sialens Bae Aberteifi is a rowing challenge of approximately 54 nautical miles from Fishguard across Cardigan Bay to Pwllheli.

The challenge is open to Celtic Longboats, Pembrokeshire Longboats, Irish Skiffs and and St Ayles skiffs.

On Saturday, June 22nd, two teams from Aberdyfi travelled down to Fishguard to take part – a men’s crew and a ladies crew- nine rowers in each crew -plus support boats and crew. Crews swap rowers at intervals throughout the challenge with four rowers and a cox in a boat at one time.  

The weather window allowed the start to take place on Saturday early evening and at 6pm the ladies and mixed crews set off with the men’s crews following an hour later.

Rowing through the night Aberdyfi proved that all their months of training had been well worth their hard efforts and dedication, with Aberdyfi men finishing first overall and first men’s team to cross the line and Aberdyfi ladies crew  were first ladies crew to cross the line and finished third overall out of ten boats.”

Aberdyfi ladies CBC captain Mary Upson ,said , “ Well- what an adventure! “

"Our two Aberdyfi teams made their way to Fishguard for this great challenge early on Saturday 22 June.

" Cars packed to the gunnels with competitors, equipment and food sponsored by Spar in Tywyn.

We arrived in Fishguard and unloaded all our gear and put the boats on the waters edge waiting for the tide to come in and take us on our way.

At 5.30pm we made our way to the start line, a slight delay on the start line and eventually the ladies got off at 6.10 pm. The men were due to start an hour later.

“ Aberdyfi ladies got off to a flying start and rowed at 7-8 mph for 4 or more hours making great progress.”

“ The first few hours were lovely and sunny and we saw dolphins playing in Cardigan Bay, however the wind and tide changed and the swell increased and slowed our pace. We battled through changing crews every 40-60 minutes which was not easy in the swell!.”

“ Despite the challenging conditions we still made great progress and eventually saw our men’s team catch us up and overtake us at about 5am.”

At this stage we were tired , but the team gave everything and we eventually crossed the line at 6.11am having rowed 60 nautical miles.”

We were the third boat home beating all but one of the mixed teams and our men's team.

A massive thankyou to everyone who helped to make this challenge happen for us and a special thanks to Spar in Tywyn who sponsored the food for us during the challenge”

Aberdyfi ladies captain Tracey Evans added “ What a fabulous challenge . Both our teams gave it their all.  The event wouldn’t be possible without the unsung heroes – loading the ribs, the support boat crews, towing the boats and ribs and of course our Aberdyfi organising committee of Ian Andrews, Kevin Evans and Mary Upson who all did an amazing job.

There is an unbelievable amount of work going on behind the scenes to enable two teams to enter such a brilliant event - many of us are unaware of this. It was such a brilliant event which we were all proud to be part of “

Men’s captain Kevin Evans said,” The Cardigan Bay Challenge – what can I say to give justice to such a brilliant challenge, from first hearing about it I was determined to make sure that Aberdyfi took part.

We soon set up a small group of organisers, Ian, Mary and me, and that's when the biggest challenge began! Training plans, support boats, ribs etc to sort....

We trained hard to be ready but on the Monday before the challenge we learned that the men's support boat was no longer available. It could have been a disaster but again Aberdyfi showed determination to still race and with the help of brilliant support crews we managed to secure a boat at the very last hour !”

Race day was upon us and an early start for most of our crew, motoring support boats from Aberystwyth to Fishguard, towing ribs and Celtics from Aberdyfi. My thoughts- should the rowers and support crew really be doing this and rowing?  No choice- the jobs had to be done.

After all the hiccups before and during race day, the ladies were at the start ready to go and from the flag going down they went off leaving other boats well behind. The ladies crews and mixed crews had started the challenge !

“An hour later it was the turn of the men, and our young first crew of Ian coxing, and rowers Jake, James, Matt and Richard were off, taking the lead from the start. After an hour of great rowing with the young lads giving us a great lead it was the turn of the old boys of Bob as cox, Ian, Colin, Dylan and me to keep the momentum up. 

After an hour of rowing we had achieved more lead handing it back to the young lads. Changeovers happened throughout the night, with a few developing the dreaded sea sickness , including me, but not to let the team down every rower just got back in the rowing seat and did their allocated time on the oar. “

A high point of the night was catching up and passing other boats which had started an hour earlier, especially when we caught up with our ladies boat who were in second place - just a brilliant effort by them.

“Unfortunately our support boat lost satellite signal during the night at one point and took us off course and we rowed in the wrong direction for some time. However as soon as we realised this we got back on course and despite the lost rowing time we did what we do best and rowed hard to the finishing line.  We just couldn't catch the first mixed team that crossed the line but we had beaten them by 35 minutes  and Aberdyfi men were the overall winners of the Cardigan Bay Challenge. Job done ! Next over the line were our amazing ladies finishing first in class and 3rd overall- just brilliant!

“ Aberdyfi have a great team of rowers but without our amazing support crews we couldn’t have achieved such great success for both Aberdyfi crews.  As Aberdyfi Rowing Club  captains, Tracey and I would like to thank all the rowers for their hard work in training , our great team of organisers , Ian as our coach and the best support crews and rib crews that we possibly could have , not forgetting our brilliant towers. “ 

Thank you everyone – proud to have taken part in the Cardigan Bay Challenge – roll on the next race !”


Posted: 13:23:06 - 25/06/2024

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