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Oban Sea Kayak RACE

27th August 2023

The sea conditions around this stretch of coastline can vary from day to day and even hour to hour. Sometimes, due to the Island of Kerrera acting as a natural breakwater for the bay of Oban, the bay can look very benign. However, heading out the north entrance down the west side of Kerrera, conditions can become very challenging very quickly. This same scenario must be said of the south end of Kerrera with its rugged inhospitable coastline, offering no refuge for kayakers or other sea-going vessels. 

All entrants must be at least level 3* or equivalent experience in sea kayaking.

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Oban Sea Kayak Race is planned to be a challenging and fun event. Safety is our top priority and you'll need to follow our race rules to enter. Please take the time to read through this section, as it contains important information. Failure to do so could prevent you from paddling with the Oban Sea Kayak Race.

On the day

The Race assembly point is the Oban Sailing Club. All kayaks must be at the Sailing Club and ready for scrutinising by 10am on Race day.

The Race

Sea Kayaking by its very nature contains a risk element, all paddlers must be aware of the dangers facing paddlers whilst at sea. While no formal qualification is required it is strongly recommended that all paddlers have to be at the standard of the British Canoe Union's Sea Proficiency or Three-Star level with experience in sea paddling. It is expected that paddlers have had experience in several different coastal regions and to have completed at least one extended paddle, exceeding ten nautical miles.

The Island of Kerrera is almost five miles long and two miles wide at its widest part, the south and west coast of the Island is particularly vulnerable to a large open 'fetch', and sea conditions can quickly become challenging. A wind against tide scenario, especially to the south of the Island can be affected by tidal flows from the Sound of Kerrera, and Loch Feochan, the tide race between Kerrera and Bach Island and the north entrance to Oban Bay can be hazardous.

The north entrance to Oban Bay is treated as a 'constricted channel' for Maritime Regulations (i.e. sail and small paddle-craft DO NOT HAVE PRIORITY).


Once you have completed full registration at the desk on the day, you will be asked to sign a Disclaimer form before your application can be fully accepted. 


The safety of the kayaks, and their entire management, including insurance, shall be the sole responsibility of the owner/paddler racing the kayak. Where a kayak has been borrowed/rented/hired etc. it is the paddlers' responsibility that the kayak meets the required standard and insurance requirements.


All kayaks and personal equipment will be scrutinised prior to the start of the Race. If the kayak and/or safety equipment does not comply with the conditions, the entry may be rejected. See 'Equipment to be carried' below.


Only 'bona fide' sea kayaks/skis will be accepted and in sea-worthy condition. Method of navigation; it is advisable that a suitable method of navigation is accessible on the water, map/compass etc.

The location of Registration, Scrutinising, Presentation and BBQ, will now take place at the Oban Sailing Club. This venue will be the starting line and finishing line.

Parking at the Sailing Club along Gallanach Road is at a premium and is chargeable on Sunday after 1pm.

 Any paddlers using OS maps must ensure that the relevant tidal information has been obtained prior to the start of the race.


Personal Equipment

  • All paddlers must wear an approved buoyancy aid/life jacket containing suitable buoyancy and be of a suitable design to support the paddler.

N.B. Buoyancy aids do not necessarily keep an unconscious person face up in adverse weather conditions.

  • We recommend that all paddlers carry suitable water proof clothing, which includes leggings, jacket and hat.

  • Compass

  • A map or chart of the race route.

  • Hand pump- Sea Kayaker only.

  • Whistle.

  • All paddlers must carry emergency food and water.

Additional Safety Equipment

We recommend that all paddlers carry:

  • One hand held orange smoke flare or VHF radio.

  • Paddle float

  • Surf Skis will be required to also have a leg leash


Mobile phones, whilst useful do not receive complete coverage on remote island locations and cannot be used for radio direction finding by the rescue services. Different service providers have various coverage levels in remote parts of Scotland. The organiser’s personal view is that Vodafone may provide better signal requirements in this location.

A waterproof covering is highly recommended.



We recommend all paddlers hold Third Party Indemnity Insurance as a minimum. Suitable coverage is supplied free with the British Canoe Union membership or with any of the affiliated country organisations (BCU, SCA, WCA & CANI).

Identification numbers

All kayaks entered into the Race must carry an identification number (Number provided on the race day). It is the responsibility of the paddler to ensure that the identification number is visible from the port side of the kayak.

Alternative course

An alternate course will be notified should adverse weather prevail.


All retirals must be notified to the organisers ASAP, and must have received a response to be accepted.


Concentration on the faces of the triple surf skiers Alan Hunter, Gus Brydon and Adam Richards as they power their way to the finishing line. 

InkedOban Map Kerrera 2021 labelled.jpg

The Race route leaves from the Oban Sailing Club heading south down the Sound of Kerrera, rounding the southeast tip, and heading west with the Island always on your right. Once you round the southwest tip through between Bach Island head north and round into the north entrance and the Bay of Oban. Still hugging the Island on your right, cross over to the Oban Sailing Club south of the ferry route cardinal markers on your left. Pay attention to crossing traffic from Kerrera Marina to the Oban Terminal and Marinas.

We couldn't organise this great Race without the valuable support of the local marine RIBS, who give their time, experience, and fuel so that everyone can safely circumnavigate this Island. It has to be emphasised that these RIBS are there for emergencies only, every paddler should not rely upon these boats as a safety net. All entrants have to be able to self-rescue!


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Michael Surmon 2019 Race.jpg
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