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Stuart on top of the world with double gold

By Alan Beresford

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BUCKIE RNLI lifeboat deputy coxswain Stuart Mack is no stranger to the sea, but it is in a boat of an entirely different kind which has seen him crowned a world champion twice over.

Feeling champion....Buckie RNLI lifeboat deputy coxswain Stuart Mack with his Worlds medals.
Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No. 044596
Feeling champion....Buckie RNLI lifeboat deputy coxswain Stuart Mack with his Worlds medals. Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No. 044596

Stuart Mack (28), who is Buckie Shipyard manager, has not long returned from the Skiffie Worlds 2019 at Stranraer – the triennial world championships for St Ayles skiffs – with not one but two gold medals to his name.

The cox, who is with Club Boatie Blest based at Cockenzie and Port Seton near his native Edinburgh, has added the Ladies Open and Mixed 40+ medals to his trophy cabinet, with a silver in the Ladies 40+ to keep it company.

Mr Mack and his colleagues were among 700 teams at the championships drawn from 57 clubs in nine countries.

The increasingly high standard of the competition was reflected in the agonisingly close finish the Boatie Blest Mixed 40+ crew had to endure, as Mr Mack explained.

"After a 2km race, there was only half a second separating the first four boats, it was a photo finish.

"At the time you don't know for sure what the outcome is although you having a feeling you've got a medal, you just don't know what.

"It's a great feeling to get a couple of golds and a silver, the worlds was a great experience. There've been three Worlds and I've been to them all.

"In 2013 in Ullapool I got a gold and a bronze and three years later at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland I won two golds, a silver and a bronze.

"The standard is improving all the time as is the popularity of the Worlds. this time round there were around 700 teams while in 2013 there were only 32."

For someone who makes their living building boats, it comes as no surprise that Mr Mack's first introduction to the world of rowing came in 2010 through his participation in a project to build a skiff that was to carve out it niche in history.

He continued: "It was the first community-built St Ayles skiff in the world –Boatie Blest actually have skiffs number one, 10 and 50.

"From building the boat it seemed a natural route into rowing. I've always seemed to have been in the cox role, it just kind of happened. Before I got involved with coastal rowing I was on the creel boats and at that time I was the only one at the club that knew much about going to sea, tides and so on."

Success requires commitment and for Mr Mack this means making the trip from Portknockie, where he stays, to Cockenzie every weekend to train all year round.

He added: "I usually end up doing about three hours each day, although it can be more as I'm actually involve in six teams.

"While the regattas are held in the summer the rowing goes on all year round."

Mr Mack has been part of the Buckie RNLI crew for the last four years.

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