One river, one race…
… that was the slogan on the front cover for the ‘inaugural’ 2008 Etive River Race (ERR), A5 flyer, a catchphrase that Paul Cheesy Robertson came up with.
When James Fleming and Ian Letton kayaked from Triple Falls to Twist and Shout on Sunday 10th February 2008 the seeds of racing the Etive were sown. Chris Tickner, timed it at a leisurely 24 minutes.
Little did anyone know, at that time, the emergence of other creek races on the Tay, Garry, North Esk and other popular rivers would come to fruition leading to a Scottish Creek Race Series headed up by Gavin Millar.
From February 2008 to race day, Saturday 4th October 2008, there was frequent communications with the National Park Rangers and the National Trust for Scotland. Richard Bannister joined the team and played a key part in articulating our goals to some of the stakeholders. Dave Rossettier for the Inaugural ERR and subsequent races including the Moriston River Race (MRR) organised and managed the safety team.
Race day saw massive water levels on the Middle Etive, the race section was not doable. Duly, we moved the course up from the Coupall to the top of Triple Falls. Team Ireland were set off by the starter, Hamish Fleming, at 11:00hrs. The fastest time Team ‘A Bowl Full of Fun’ Simon Grant and Calum Hogg won their category and had the fastest time of 12:52:13.
In 2010 the middle Section of the river was at a more manageable level. The winners in the ‘sponsored’ category were Colin Aitken and Colin McMorrin with a time of 13:41:98. However, the fastest person down the course was Tom Wakeling with a time of 12:57:61.
The Etive would prove a fantastic setting and course to race on but the difficulty was the water levels. The first year was too high and following years were at a mixed level. It was never the ‘Goldilocks’ level – just right.
To have some sort of consistency in water levels there was a switch from the rain dependant river to a down right ‘dam’ power. The river Moriston, central Loch Ness, was the ideal solution. It wasn’t reliant on rain as there were ‘freshets’ organised throughout the summer. This was essentially organised by SEPA, SSE and other stakeholders.
We had to work with all the stakeholders to get a release and use the Moriston power station for access. Bob Olivant who worked for SSE was key. He helped us and even cut an access gate in the barrier that is now used by many paddlers on the Moriston.
The ‘Big Dog’ Moriston River Race took place on May 2012 Pete Scutt came in first with a winning time of 03:17:54 with Matty Nicholas second and Ed Smith third.
2013 saw Giles Chater play a key part in coordinating the event being filmed by the Scottish Adventure Show. Rory Woods won with a time of 03:02:61. Sal Montgomery had the fastest female combined time of 07:20:09.
2014 saw Callum Strong win the event in a time of 02:48:35. With Sandra Hyslop coming in at 02:56:39.
During the latter years the Garry Boater Cross emerged Kevin Barclay with Daryn Hubbucks driving the event. North Esk and the Uni Creek Race also came about.