Obituary: Jim MacRitchie

Born: 4 February, 1937 in Govan. Died: 23 December, 2014

Jim MacRitchie: President of the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association and Scotsman correspondent

Jim MacRitchie, former president of the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association, has died at the age of 77 after a brief battle against cancer.

Although he was president for only four years – from 1974 until 1978 – he held many positions on the national body and was a great influence on the sport over many decades.

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He was in the right place at the right time when Strathclyde Park was being developed and was influential in causing the original design of the Loch to be changed, turning it into a 2000m-long Olympic standard course that has since played host to many international events, including the 1986 Commonwealth Games Regatta and the 1996 World Rowing Championships.

Born in Govan, one of four brothers, he went to Allan Glen’s School, where he first took up rowing as a member of Glasgow Schools Rowing Club. He went on to Glasgow University where he graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering.

After leaving university, he helped revitalise Glasgow Argonauts as a graduate rowing club. In turn, Argonauts amalgamated with City of Glasgow to form Glasgow Rowing Club in 1983 and Jim was heavily involved in that too.

He helped set up the original Strathclyde Park Rowing Club and supported the establishment of the Castle Semple club in Lochwinnoch.

He was a long-standing national umpire in the sport and in 1985 became one of only six home-based Scots ever to qualify as an international Olympic-standard umpire.

He passed the international exam – in French – in Belgium and went on to umpire at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986. His other assignments included three Commonwealth Championships, World Cups and the 1998 World Rowing Championships in Cologne, Germany.

He spent a long career as a civil engineer with Glasgow firm James Williamson’s, working on many large-scale projects. When he left there in 1982 he set up his own boat-transport business – Keelhauler – and his heavily-laden giant boat-trailer and Land Rover were familiar sights at national and European regattas as well as the motorways of England, Ireland and Scotland.

The Scottish Amateur Rowing Association celebrated its centenary in 1981 and, along with Tony Dean he co-authored the definitive history of the sport in Scotland.

In addition, for many years he was the rowing correspondent for The Scotsman.

In recent years he had started to re-study Gaelic language, having been able to speak it as a child.

His other interests included CAMRA and the works of Robert Burns but it is through his immense contributions to Scottish rowing that he will be best remembered by many.

Jim MacRitchie is survived by his wife Margaret, daughter Karen and son-in-law David, as well as grandson Alasdair.