BSRA#7 SWSC Woolacombe National Scooter Rally 2019| RALLERY
I’ve missed Woolacombe for the past few years. September comes towards the end of a hectic season and by the time it arrives I’m often ready to hibernate for a few weeks before the final National at the end of October. This year we decided it was time to make the effort again and I’m glad we did. It was a cracking weekend from start to finish.
I needed to get some miles in on our long term GTS SuperTech (more to come about that scooter next week) so took it for the 250-mile thrash down to Devon in fantastic sunny weather. Arriving at the familiar campsite to a warm welcome from the gate staff and a cold beer from our fellow chalet dwellers.
One of our neighbours, Louise was busy cutting and styling the ladies hair outside in the sunshine but unfortunately, there’s not much style left in mine these days. Everybody seemed to be in good spirits (or had consumed a few) and we all sat around having fun until darkness fell and it was time to venture into the main room of the do.
You can’t really ask for a better campsite rally than Woolacombe to be honest. The chalets are good and well equipped, there’s also a load of caravans and quite a few people were camping as well. It has all the facilities you could need on site, swimming pools, bowling, amusements, high ropes courses, surf machine etc. It’s also got its own pub and shuttle buses down to the nearby seafront at Woolie or Ilfracombe. More about the buses later on.
The Young Ones
All the added attractions make this the perfect rally for families to take their kids to for a long weekend away, the young ones can have fun in the daytime and their parents can take it in turns to go out at night if they like. Under 18s are allowed in the do until 9 pm, which stops them being in there later when it’s packed and rowdy.
I’m not going to bore you too much with all the sets of the various bands but suffice to say, the SWSC nailed the entertainment. The main room was banging all weekend with a great atmosphere and although I never ventured into the Northern Soul room I saw lots of sweaty bodies pressed against the windows so I reckon that was going well. Although these days the dancers seem to run out of puff a lot quicker than they used to and a burst of energy often requires a sit-down and medication the following day to help ease the aches and pains. Thank goodness I’m not quite at that age yet…
One thing the Woolacombe rally prides itself on is entertainment. It’s a non-Bank Holiday event but still has three nights of partying. It boasts the largest Sunday night attendance of any rally, National or not. Fact.
To keep the public entertained this year we had the following live bands…
Friday’s headliner: Bootleg Blondie – fantastic covers of the classic Blondie hits
Saturday afternoon: Double J and the Rock ‘ N Roll Swindle – Outdoor punk fuelled classics
Saturday evening headliner: Angelo Starr & The Team – These blew the roof off, outstanding
Sunday afternoon: The 5:15s – Down in the Old Mill on-site pub, great band playing to a packed room
Sunday party night headliner: Retro Electric – 1980s classics, superb atmosphere and a great crowd of fancy-dressed weirdos.
Plus there was a plethora of great DJ’s in both the main and soul rooms and the hypnotist. Something for everybody.
The queue for the coach to town was way longer than usual on Saturday. That’s thanks to some imbeciles who broke into one of the double-decker buses on Friday night and vandalised the cab before letting the handbrake off. We like to think the dickheads responsible weren’t Scooterists but if you have any information about this incident please feel free to pass it on in the strictest confidence. Name and shame.
That Friday night incident left one bus out of action but it didn’t stop two blokes fighting with the coach driver on Saturday afternoon before abusing the girls on the gate and being chased back to Woolacombe. The two blokes in question had wristbands on from another campsite and it’s thought they were holidaymakers rather than Scooterists. Even so, that’s two incidents we could certainly do without on the rally scene.
Glass for life
In an effort to cut down on single-use plastic the site decided to sell commemorative resuable plastic pint glasses this year, rather than give out the ‘free’ flimsy ones we’re used to. The glasses cost £1 and were to be used all weekend (or swapped for a new one) you could see people hanging on to them for dear life during the early stages of each night. As the beer flowed though people kind of forgot to hang on to them and ended up with a collection of £1 glasses.
One astonishing fact is that last year at Woolacombe 40,000 single-use glasses were used during the rally. Scary. Imagine how many get used at a music festival? It’s probably a good job we’ve started to change our wasteful habits.
Buster’s Rally 200
Scooterists do some pretty amazing things but one of the weirdest has to be flying a Vespa Rally 200 in from America packed away in five suitcases. Buster of the Reservoir Gods had bought the scooter in America a while back but wasn’t sure how to get it home. That was until a few American Scooterist friends decided to come over for Woolacombe. They hatched an ingenious plan to strip the scooter down to as many parts as possible and pack it into their suitcases.
This perfectly executed plan meant the scooter fell under the baggage allowance and could be flown over virtually for nothing with British Airways. The only slight snag was that the actual frame had to be bagged separately and placed in the hold at a cost of $60 (around £45). The frame didn’t arrive along with the passengers, or their suitcases unfortunately but was sent by courier (paid for by BA) direct to the campsite at Woolacombe on Sunday. Top marks to British Airways.
Kids in a candy store
The saying ‘Like kids in a candy store’ couldn’t have been better applied than it was in this instance. Buster, Big Kev and a few UK and USA helpers set about rebuilding the engine and forks on Saturday (all done on the dining table in their chalet). By mid-afternoon the engine was complete (minus an oil drive worm and a carb gasket – they couldn’t get one on-site and the originals were lost in transit).
You’ve been framed
On Sunday lunchtime the shout went up “Kev, Kev!” Yes, the frame had just arrived on site and Big Kev sprinted off after Buster like a gazelle. I took the first photo of the bare frame being cut out of its bag at 13:24. By 14:36 the scooter was as complete as they could get it. The wiring loom was back in, stand on, engine in, forks and headset in situ, wheels and tyres on, lights in, indicators wired up… It just needed cabling up and a few bits and bobs to finish it. Top work lads.
In fact, 97% of this very fine example of an American spec Rally 200 was complete. A great story and a fantastic job. Although we did think it would be funny to wait until later in the evening and strip it all back down again.
You can see more photos of this Rally build in the Rally Rallery down below, above the main Ralleries!
Sunday night is party night
I’ve seen the photos and videos from previous Woolacombe Sunday night’s but have never had the chance to stop for one in the past, although I still regret missing a few of them. Thankfully this year we were there to see it in glorious technicolour. I’d imagine there were close to 1000 people in the do on Sunday night for what was Woolie’s 20th year. The Sunday nights started for their tenth anniversary a decade ago and have grown by reputation from just 400 people to the humungous fancy dress weekend highlight it has now become.
I’m not a huge 1980s music fan but lots of people are and you couldn’t help but smile at (not so) Big Andy and Buster in their Adam Ant and Boy George costumes as they looked after the stage. Some of the costumes were superb, others disturbing. Like Jonah as Pamela Anderson for instance (I’m sure Bay Watch only just made it into the late 1980s but that’s not really the point, although his huge knockers made a couple of points of their own).
Then there was the white-faced New Romantic who seemed to be playing the part just a little too comfortably and playing it very well. All around the room people were singing, dancing and loving this debatable decade in popular music as Retro Electric belted out hit after hit.
One thing is for certain, Sunday nights at Woolacombe aren’t for people stuck in a rut, it’s not for people who only want to listen to the same old ‘Scooter music.’ It’s for people who just want to have a good time and I think there were 1000 of those last Sunday…
Special mention must go to the cleaning lady, Barbara, from the holiday camp. On Sunday night she set about mopping the dancefloor with style. She owned it. Dancing and mopping away with a huge smile on her face whilst the band (or DJs) played. If her manager reads this, that girl needs a promotion, she’s fantastic. Thanks to Michelle Sessford for the video above.
Hitting the wall
As I type this it’s four days since I got home from Devon. I’ve spent most of this week recovering from the excesses of binge drinking and very late nights/early mornings. That’s despite having Tuesday booked off to recover.
Recovering from a big three-dayer gets harder as you get older for sure. With events like this though it’s all worth it. The South West Scooter Clubs can be proud of this event. Woolie is into its 20th year but they still manage to make it fresh and different. If you’ve not visited for a while try and get there in 2020. You won’t regret it.
Photos: Booga and Iggy
Rally Rallery – an American jigsaw
Rallery by Iggy
Rallery by Booga
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