So, last year our Mama Duck made her first appearance on the Loch and teams had a long row (5k) out to see her. This year we thought we’d let teams have a shorter row round her (1,000k), but just to ensure it wasn’t too easy, we added some beach challenges along the way. Steve was Master Duck Race Starter, David “Hurray up and get ready for your turn” Nagger and Wendi oversaw all things and looked out for nominations for “Best Dressed Ducks”.

Challenge 1 was for the cox to go fishing for a rubber duck with Rhona keeping a close eye on proceedings.

Challenge 2 saw coxes collecting a quack caller which they were instructed to use throughout the race. Gordon and Iain on the rescue boat and Susan and Maureen at the finish were all listening out for their efforts.

Challenge 3 had Steve umpiring a throwing and ducking game, quite a task with some wind on the shore. 

Challenge 4 was to run to the skiff and row 500m out to round Mama Duck and back to shore.

Challenge 5 was a sprint up the beach by cox, or nominated runner, ably marshalled by Iain, to collect and eat a chocolate duck and make a bath cap for it out of the foil… of course!... then with a final dash to Maureen to present duck in hat and a one last quack to finish, so enabling George to record a time.

Teams were, as last year, worryingly keen to partake in such nonsense and to compete for the time trial prizes and honour (?!). Some were even seen undertaking some last-minute training practice prior to the Le Mans start.

Strangford’s “Skull Duckeries” as first team off put down a strong time of 11 minute 50 which would later gain them 3rdoverall and bronze shell medals. Their bright yellow, fluffy cox flapped splendidly across the sand, quacking all the way and all on the beach were aghast at such beauty, co-ordination and tunefulness. Despite the efforts of other coxes to beat this sight and sound, the “Quackiest Cox” prize was clearly won at that very moment! The prize was a driftwood log with a mounted quack caller which could be removed for further training purposes/quackery.

Next came Stranraer’s “Quacker 1” and whilst they certainly gained no prizes for their name, nor their time, they did win the “Best Dressed Ducks” prize. This was hotly contested, and the planning and effort of many teams was commendable… or should that be condemnable ed? Commendation went to Dundrum Club for their Teal Duck Skiff…  none of us here in Stranraer will ever forget the genuinely gorgeous view of a skiff with wings heading for Ailsa Craig. Stranraer’s prize was a plaque of a colourful, and as of yet unidentified, breed of duck, dressed in beach plastic.

Enough of this frivolity…. back to the time trialling. Next came Sketrick, Dundrum and Killyleagh’s first teams all who completed the race in over 12 minutes. Queensferry’s first team completed in 13 minutes 24. That took us back to Strangford for the start of another round of teams from each club. In this round some serious times were achieved with Sketrick’s “Four sprung duck technique” completing in 10.58 to ultimately take 1stplace… as well as merit for their title. They were awarded gold shell medals and also a driftwood duck to hang in their boathouse, lest they forget the madness.

Closely following them across the beach and the water was Dundrum’s “What’s the Quack?”, not quite able to beat their time, finishing at 11 minutes and 6 seconds to take a close 2nd and more silver medals.

Killyleagh and Queensferry’s next teams completed in over 13 minutes. Strangford had entered a third team, “The Pheasant Duckers” but please refer to the results chart for note of their shame.

Stranraer’s third team “Duck Do” completed a number of remarkable things. Firstly, Stranraer were the only Club to have three teams finish. Secondly, they again managed a Stranraer Not Last with a time of 12 minutes 39, coming 5thoverall. But, perhaps most memorably and shockingly, the Cox pausing half way across the beach, laid an oyster…….

The final challenge and prize for the day was for the “Crackin’ Good Duck Creation”. We asked Club’s to continue on the duck theme but to think sand castle, beach sculpture. With so much to do in the Race, there was a slow start and organiser’s thought Club’s had been perhaps stretched a bit too far to try and complete this in amongst all the rest of the serious racing. For a long while only one team were working away and it seemed their steady progress would ensure an unchallenged prize….. then all of a sudden, other teams appeared with props and spades and buckets of shells and at a final count there were seven entries to judge between. A tough call and much head scratching between the various judges but happily the prize went to Killyleagh for their creation which juxtaposed some fine shell and feather detailing on their duck with a flippin’ great jellyfish on their club banner! For their efforts, they took away some Crackin Nuts and Duck Crackling to munch on the way home.

Post Duck Race, the usual boat tidying, more food and then prize giving. Stranraer thanked their visitors and volunteers, and visitors thanked Stranraer, and then everyone went their separate ways…

We thank you all for great pimping of boats and crews and for playing so nicely and for entertaining each other so successfully. As one member of the public commented... “great to see adults behaving like children on a beach”.