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Race route

Full details of the race route are given below. The map (right) is approximate only and should not be used for navigation!

An alternate adverse weather route in the Sound of Kerrera/Oban Bay will be notified to race participants on the morning of the race, if required. It is the responsibility of each paddler to ensure they follow the correct route. Time penalties and disqualification may result from failure to adhere to route requirements, Maritime Rules of the Road (Collision Regs.) and environmental considerations (i.e. giving seals a wide berth [200m minimum] especially whilst “hauled-out” of rocks and reefs).

Race start 13.00hrs, Saturday 23rd August 2014, Oban Bay (east)

Tide times: Standard Port Oban
High Water 17.35 hrs (BST) 3.5m

View Oban Sea Kayak Race in a larger map

On the day

Kilbowie Outdoor Centre is the assembly point for Oban Sea Kayak Race - see green marker on map insert right.

Click on the map insert to see a larger map and to get directions. From the centre of Oban, initially follow signs for the ferry terminal but then continue along Gallanach Road until reaching the centre on your right about 2km from Oban centre. The Centre's postcode is PA38 4PF.

Please park all vehicles at Kilbowie Outdoor Centre. All kayaks should be at the Centre and ready for the sea after scrutinising by 11.30am on the day of the Race.


Scrutinising will take place at Kilbowie Outdoor Education Centre prior to 11am.

Race brief will take place at 11.30am, Kilbowie /launch point.

The Oban Sea Kayak Race flotilla will then paddle escorted and together to Oban Bay, taking into account the local ferries before crossing the CalMac Ferry RoRo Piers.

Please abide by these conditions: The whole of Oban Bay will be watching. Paddlers will in effect become ambassadors of their sport. Any contraventions may jeopardise future events.

Laminated A5 Race/ID Numbers will be issued at checkpoint desk situated at entrance to Kilbowie, Race/ID Numbers must be clearly visible when paddling.

View Oban Sea Kayak Race assembly point in a larger map

Route details

Pre-Start 12 noon - 12.30pm Oban Bay Beach

Mini social pre-event, media opportunities, and thanks to sponsors. Final race brief at 12.45pm.

The course:

  • The start line lies between North Pier and the Caledonian MacBrayne South Pier (Railway Steps), position approx: 56deg 24.86' N, 005deg 28.39' W, Ordnance Survey Grid Reference NM 858 301.
  • South through the Sound of Kerrera, keeping the Island of Kerrera to starboard throughout.
  • Turn right at Rubha Seannoch (Kerrera’s most southerly tip). Pass between Bach Island and Rubha na Feundain (Kerrera’s southwest tip).
  • Continue north up the west side of Kerrera. N.B. From Rubha na Lice, across Slatrach Bay, it is very important to keep all of the islands and islets (Eilean nan Gamhna, Eilean nam Uan and several reefs which flood at high water) on the northwest coast of Kerrera to port, still keeping Kerrera to starboard to avoid the seal colony, see right.
  • Turn right at Rubha’ Bhearnaig into the approach to Oban Bay: N.B. Be very aware of fast approaching ferries, which leave a large wash, this can be especially hazardous in the shallow reef waters. Leave both fixed navigational marks (red lights) to starboard.

Oban Bay North Channel Crossing

  • Keep as close to the north shore of Kerrera and Rudha’ Chruidh island (northeast Kerrera), as is safe.
  • If a ferry is close or looming, it is strongly recommended that paddlers keep to the small bay northwest of the Rudha’ Chruidh before making the crossing of Oban Bay’s North Channel.
  • An official OSKR support boat will marshal the crossing (failure to observe the directions of officials on the support boat WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION from the race). It is the responsibility of the race participant to ensure that his/her race number has been recorded and acknowledged. In the case where the official boat is absent race participants should make the North Channel crossing only if safe to do so and in any case according to the Collision Regs. As below.
  • If in the opinion of the officials on the support boat deem it contrary to the above Regulations and/or it to be unsafe to cross the North Channel kayaks will be held in the small bay. Time allocations will be given to any race kayak held during this process, and these will be deducted from the race participants overall race time.

WARNING: International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREG Rule 9 & 10 Narrow Channels) apply.

N.B. Any contravention of IRPCS 1972 will result in disqualification from the race.

  • The shortest crossing of the North Channel is between the small white metal structure housing the Port Hand Lateral Mark on Rudha’ Chruidh (NE tip Kerrera); Position 56°25'∙03N 005° 29'∙3W, OS National Grid NM 849310, and the Memorial Park, which houses the Dunollie Sector Light at the western tip of the Corran Esplanade; Position 56°25'∙03N 005° 28'W, OS National Grid NM 852310.
  • Race participants should aim to complete the crossing before passing the small slip below the memorial.
  • The race route continues along the esplanade keeping the West Cardinal Mark to starboard (taking care to avoid the Corran Ledge, and associated pipeline which in places may extend at least one metre above the seabed).
  • Finish Oban Bay
  • The race is deemed complete once the race participants have notified their race number (by voice if required) to the time keeper officials and this action has been acknowledged by the timekeepers.

Prize-giving Reception

Once the paddlers have completed the race and have had their times recorded, refreshments and snacks will be available on Oban beach. A reception for all paddlers and their families will be held at the Kilbowie outdoor centre, including a BBQ and music. A burger and a drink is included in entry fee; for further drinks, bring your own.

The route circumnavigates Kerrera, a beautiful rural Scottish west coast island, steeped in history, which provides shelter to the busy port of Oban. 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 can be of concern, especially to the south of the island which is 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.

Image: give hauled up seals a wide berth

The route at the north west end of Kerrera passes close to a common seal colony. The seals will be approaching the end of their breeding season. Seal pups need time out of the water in order to warm; kayaks present probably the scariest sight to hauled-out seals than anything else. Please keep well clear of any hauled-out seals. Seal pups can die from hypothermia, caused by kayaks passing too close!

Image: keep a close watch out for ferries

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).

Image: keep a close watch out for ferries
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