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REPORT ON THE EUROPEAN BOAT AND LINE CLASS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2009

Hosted by EFSA Scotland

EUROPEAN BOAT AND LINE CLASS CHAMPIONSHIPS
STROMNESS, ORKNEY. AUGUST 3rd TO 7th 2009 

Once again, EFSA Scotland has had the privilege of organising the European Championships and, once again, Stromness in Orkney has provided us with an outstanding venue.  Our previous visit, back in 2003 was blessed with exceptionally warm calm weather.  This time, we again enjoyed warm weather but over the course of the week varying wind strengths sometimes made the angler’s task a bit more challenging.

The Championships attracted an entry of over 150 anglers but, unfortunately, there were a few who, for one reason or another, were unable to attend and 144 competitors took part.  A total of 17 countries were represented with an all-ladies team from South Africa coming the greatest distance to compete.

As usual, the Championships began with the Parade of the National flags and the competitors.  The local Pipe Band led the way to the front of the Stromness Hotel where the anglers were welcomed to the event by Joe Connolly, the chairman of EFSA Scotland; to Orkney by James Stockan, the vice convener of Orkney Island Council and the Championships were formally opened by Horst Schneider the president of EFSA.  Fortunately, the parade and opening ceremony took place between 2 light showers of rain – the only rain we saw during the whole competition.

In the evening, an informal welcoming buffet had been arranged to give the anglers and their guests a chance to mingle and renew old friendships.  The Stromness Hotel which provided the buffet did a superb job and was widely praised for its fare.

Monday 3rd August.  By 0700 hrs the pier was already becoming quite a busy place with all the usual excitement in anticipation of the start.  The weather was calm and very warm and the boats were loaded in ideal conditions and with plenty of time to board and to settle into fishing positions before the off.  As an organiser, it was a time of mixed feelings as the boats set off to the fishing grounds.  Many hours of effort by many people came together as the boats set off at 0900 hrs. and our hopes for a successful event went with them.
Soon, it seemed, the first returning boat was in sight and the first day was done.  944 fish had been caught measured and returned to the sea and tales (tall and otherwise) abounded.

Tuesday 4th August.  A little cooler a little more of a breeze but by 0830 hrs everyone was ready for day 2.  836 fish today and the sea conditions less comfortable than Monday.  The forecast says stronger winds for tomorrow.

Wednesday 5th August.  The forecast was correct – a fresh south westerly made conditions challenging but at the days end 1078 fish had come to the net and in spite of the weather there were a lot of happy faces.  Unfortunately, one of the boats had overheated and had to be towed into harbour but, after a bit of work replacing a burst water pipe all was well for Thursday.

Thursday 6th August.  Last chance!  The buzz around the harbour was a bit less as the final day’s prospects were weighed up.  The forecast drop in wind speed was correct and the sun was shining. 1369 fish later, and the Boat Championship was over.  Unfortunately, while unloading, one of the German B Team suffered an arm injury from which I understand he is recovering.

Friday 7th August.  Line Class Day.  Some anglers opted not to fish this challenging part of the event and there were one or two who came only to test their skill with light tackle.  On Thursday evening the Dawn Star was withdrawn as the overheating problem had become more serious.  Fortunately, there were enough spare places on other larger boats to absorb the Dawn Star’s crew and with fair winds and sunshine the Line Class Championship began.  For this event, all fish were measured and the total number of fish caught was not recorded unless required for a tie breaker.  What I can say is that the total length of fish caught was an almost incredible 601.84 metres with the top angler boating 13.91 metres on his own.    

The Boat Championship was scored using a “Tokens System”.  These tokens and how they would be used had been tested over the last 3 years at some of our own events – but never on such a large scale.  There was some trepidation as Stromness approached and the sheer number of tokens needed to cover all the possible permutations of catches was daunting.  However, feedback has been very positive and we now have a substantial quantity of variously coloured counters available for sale at a very reasonable cost for anyone wishing to follow Scotland’s lead!

The Line Class day was scored by simply measuring the fish caught and I have to say the worries we as organisers had about Spurdogs proved unfounded.  They are awkward to deal with and all praise to the boat skipper and crew who did a great handling job.

At this stage, as many of you will know, production of results is top of the list and thanks to Alastair Forsyth and his excellent and dedicated results team this was done very quickly and accurately.  Our task was made more straightforward, I am very happy to say, as there were NO protests to deal with at any stage in the Championships. 

Credit for this is, at least in part, down to good work done by our Boat Captains ensuring rules were followed and good guidance given.  It is never easy nominating people to take on the Captains and Stewards positions but without their help events like these could not take place.  The same obviously applies to the boats.  There are fewer suitable boats available now and we were fortunate that some were prepared to make the long passage from Shetland to take part – one boat took 17 hours to reach Stromness.  We had one boat call off a few days before the start and were lucky to find a suitable replacement at very short notice and, of course, we had that breakdown on Thursday evening.

An apology is due for the delay in starting the prize giving ceremony.  There was a technical problem.  I have to admit that the problem was simply that we ran out of printing paper for the results (unforgivable for a retired Civil Servant!) but it allowed time for everyone to admire the prize table which was only possible by the generous support of our many sponsors.  Not least of these were Orkney Islands Council and the Stromness Community Business Forum who could not have done more to smooth our passage throughout the whole week.

We had on hand an excellent photographer in the shape of EFSA Scotland’s Steve Souter who took in excess of 600 photographs during the events.  A wide selection of these appear on EFSA Scotland’s web site www.efsa-scotland.org  and also on the Planet Sea Fishing site at www.planetseafishing.com/efsa2009

The Gala Dinner was, in my humble opinion, even better than the one in 2003 and a huge gold star is due to our caterers for an excellent menu exploiting the superb local produce and to Julie Robertson and Margaret Smith who made all the arrangements.

Someone said that the European Championships this year were 5 days of fishing surrounded by food!  I don’t think it was a complaint!

EFSA Scotland would like to thank all the participating anglers for supporting our event.  All were excellent ambassadors for our sport and their countries and the warm friendly atmosphere in Stromness made all the effort put into organising the Championships very worthwhile.

Perhaps someday we’ll be back there again!

A I MacGregor
Secretary, EFSA Scotland

 
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