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Race rules

Oban Sea Kayak Race is planned to be a challenging and fun event. Safety is our top priority and you'll need to follow the race rules to enter. We're sorry to burden you with the “legal/safety stuff” but please take the time to read through this section, as it contains important information. Failure to do so could prevent you paddling with the Oban Sea Kayak Race. You can download a copy of the Rules here.

On the day

The Race assembly point is Kilbowie Outdoor Centre. All kayaks must be at the centre and ready for the sea after scrutinising by 11:30am on Race day. Click here for directions and more details.


The organisers are voluntary individuals that make up the “Oban Sea Kayak Race”, and are referred to as the “organisers”, throughout this document and the website.

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 paddlers have or be at the standard of the British Canoe Union’s Sea Proficiency or Three Star level with experience of sea paddling. It is suggested that paddlers have had experience of several different coastal regions and to have competed at least one extended paddle, exceeding ten nautical miles.

Kerrera is almost five miles long and two miles wide at its widest part. It is a beautiful rural Scottish west coast island, steeped in history and contains much natural history. It provides shelter to the busy port of Oban. It has had its fair share of maritime disasters and many sections of coastline are inaccessible, some only accessible in calm conditions.

The south and west coast of Kerrera 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). There are no proper roads on Kerrera, although a track does run from the ferry to the south and another to the west of the island.


The race start is timed to avoid the regular ferries to and from Oban.

No Race Kayaks should impede the CalMac Ferries or be in the Ferry Terminal Area prior to 12.00hrs.


Once you have completed registration, you will receive an information pack through the post. You must sign and return the Disclaimer form enclosed in this pack, before your application can be accepted.


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


All kayaks and personal safety 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.

Subsequent spot inspections may be carried out at any time, failure to comply with the conditions will result in disqualification from the race.

Sea Kayaks

  • Only “bona fide” sea kayaks will be accepted, they must be in a “sea-worthy” condition and fully serviceable.
  • They must have at least one watertight bulkhead and water tight hatch.
  • It is recommended that spare paddles are carried, and accessible whilst on the water.
  • Method of navigation: it is essential that a suitable method of navigation is accessible on the water, which includes a compass. A Silva type compass, secured by a lanyard is acceptable.

The ideal chart for the area is Admiralty Chart number 2387, Firth of Lorn, Northern Part, 1:25,000. For sea kayak use the section containing Kerrera should be made water proof and of a size suitable for use on the deck of a sea kayak.

Some paddlers like to use Ordnance Survey maps, while these provide great land coverage they do not provide the required information of underwater obstructions or tidal information. The Explorer 359 map covers the area at 1:25,000 and the Landranger 49 covers the area at a scale of 1:50,000.

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

Equipment to be carried

The following equipment is required to be carried by all entrants. Scrutineering will be on the morning of the race. Lack of any items of equipment will result in refusal of entry to the race.


  • A compass
  • A map or chart of the race route
  • A VHF radio or 2 flares (any variety)
  • All closed cockpit Sea Kayaks must carry a suitable water pump, either integrated, or on-board. (Entrant must show this to be in working order at scrutinising)
  • All Sea Kayaks, Ocean Surf Skis and OC1's must carry a paddle float.
  • All Ocean Surf Skis must carry a ski leash.
  • All Group Leaders must carry a tow line on their boat.


  • A whistle
  • Spare warm headwear
  • A spare set of warm emergency clothing (top and bottom half)
  • emergency food (2 standard size choc bars minimum)

Map, compass and whistle may be 'hired' in exchange for a donation to the Oban Lifeboat on the race day - please don't rely on this.

Flares can be purchased at Outside Edge, Sea Kayak Oban and Nancy Black Chandlers in Oban.


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 (A5 laminated number provided on acceptance of entry during kayak scrutiny). 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. Please note that this is a safety requirement, in order to prevent a large scale search and rescue event.


Must be notified to the organisers ASAP and confirmed in writing to the organisers within two hours of the race end.

Abandoned race

There is no rescue cover provided, however several vessels will be on the water, and several craft will follow the kayaks during the race. Any such official craft will make the best safe attempt to notify paddlers of any abandoned race notification.

Additional Information

For any further information or contact please contact the organisers Gus Brydon 07747695016, Dave Bleazard 07814 533688 or email

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