Apologies for the delay in announcing the arrival of Coquet Spirit. She was carefully removed from Amble’s magnificent skiff building premises and launched on Sunday. The ceremony was conducted by Rev Diane Westmoreland of St Cuthberts and Rev Lynda Couthard of Trinity Methodist who together gave her a great welcome to the sea and to the town its self. Bless those who choose the way of the oar, as they said!
Coquet is the island just off Amble, and indeed the river that runs through it. One day you will probably have raced down the latter and round the former. There is an uplifting video report on the website of the Northumberland Gazette.
Photo by Tom Stewart, from the Amble Coastal Rowing Facebook Page.
Penn Yan, NY has just launched their St Ayles Skiff “Otter” funded by a grant from the NYS Council for the Arts. It was built with students and volunteers on behalf of the Fingerlakes Museum (http://fingerlakesmuseum.org/craftsmanship-program/). The boat was launched on Keuka Lake 8/23 with a salute from a jeroboam of champagne and a 50 foot cork altitude . We are now promoting “Openwater Team Rowing” as a community club. Upstate NY has 11 Fingerlakes … a skiff for each?
More details on the craftsmanship pages at www.fingerlakesmuseum.com
There are still spaces for a couple of skiffs to join Collieston, Ardersier, Seil, Luing and the hosts Isle of Mull in the inaugural Mull skiff regatta. Contact the club directly if you would like to come along. Should be a great weekend with the following programme:
6:30pm 250m Sprints
For boats arriving on Friday. Multiple entries and composite teams welcome
9:30 am Registration and coxes briefing at Tobermory Harbour Asscociation building
10:30 40+ Mixed 2km
11:00 Open Mixed 2km
11:30 40+ Women 2km
12:00 Open Women 2km
12:30 40+ Mens 2km
1:00pm Open Mens 2km
1:30 – 2:30 Lunch at THA pontoons – Soup and rolls, Tea and bakes
3:00 Open Mens round Calve Island (approx 6km)
4:00 Open Womens round Calve Island
5:30 Prize giving at THA pontoons
6:30 Meet at Macgochans Wee Bar – bar meals available
10:30 – 1:00 Social Row
For boats not travelling home that morning
Quite possibly the wettest racing of the weekend took place in Newcastle. The Amble Boat was not launched until the next day (see separate post), so it was the entire Northumbrian fleet of Blythe, Byker and Gosforth who lined up for a series of races through Newcastle City centre as part of the maritime festival.
Three races took place. Mens and Womens open races were followed by a mixed Novice Race. Gosforth took line honours in each of the races, but the less experience rowers of the other clubs still put up a great fight, and enjoyed their day in the rain. There are good reports and plenty of photos on the Gosforth Community Rowing Website and the Blyth Community Rowing Club facebook page, from which these photos are taken.
Ardersier, Avoch and Burghead rowing clubs took part in “Go Wild on the Canal” , a promotional day for outdoor activities held on Saturday on the Caledonian Canal at Muirtown Basin.
Esther and Zulu had an informal race, with the Ardersier skiff winning, although we have seen it suggested that a coxing decision to make their 180 degree turn a bit early “on safety grounds” may have been a factor in the victory. This was Zulu’s first race, and the Avoch team are happy to concede that Ardersier “technically won it”. Good banter from all and the simmerings of a long and happy cross firth rivalry. New Dawn, a boat built in traditional technique, was also in the basin being rowed and sailed. Many will recognise her from Portsoy. More photos have been uploaded to the SCR Flickr page by Chris Perkins.
Traditionally North Berwick regatta provides a real challenge, with crews enjoying the voyage round Craigleith which is the tough racecourse that these east coasters provide for their visitors. The 2014 regatta was no exception, and was one of the biggest regattas of the year, with 15 skiffs altogether. St Andrews, Eskmouthe and Isle of Islay all attended the regatta for the first time. Old handers Portobello and Coigach each brought two skiffs, to join the two entered by the hosts, to field the maximum number of their members. The Fife contingent was completed with skiffs from Crail, Anstruther and Newburgh. Other Lothian clubs in attendance were Queensferry, Boatie Blest (Port Seton and Cockenzie) and Dunbar. Most of the race starts were split into two waves, five minutes apart, with the winner being determined on time. This allowed for fair and safe racing from the open start line.
The racing started with a real bang in the Men’s 40+ category. The hosts were training hard in the lead up to the event, and were expecting strong challenges from Portobello, Crail and Port Seton. As it was though it was old rivals Coigach who took the honours, beating the hosts into second place by 2 seconds over the two mile course. Their time of 17.56 remained the fastest of the day.
Ladies 40+ was won by Crail, ahead of Portobello and Anstruther Crews. Crail’s Mens 50 + crew however were beaten into second place by Coigach taking their second victory of the day. Not for the first time the Anstruther 50 + women crew proved too strong for all their opponents, romping home 30 seconds ahead of Portobello with the two North Berwick crews in third and fourth.
Eleven crews contested the mixed Novice category, and it is always great to see a healthy entry of newer rowers. Queensferry squeezed out North Berwick to take a bronze, with Portobello in second place and the honours being taken by Crail.
Mixed under 19 was determined on a handicap basis to allow the youngsters of Newburgh to race despite not having any female crew members. The Davidson handicap system, which has been successfully applied in several internal NBRC competitions was used, and determined a win for North Berwick, with Newburgh in second on adjusted time and Boatie Blest third. The Mixed 60+ was run at the same time, and was won by Portobello, who led home North Berwick, Crail, St Andrews and Queensferry.
In the Men’s Open the visitors from Islay unfortunately broke an oar. Having made the effort to get to the regatta, they were not going to let their place slip away, and put two rowers onto the three man’s oar. The stroke and cox must have been working hard (see photo bleow), as the crew still secured a bronze medal. The category was won by North Berwick with Boatie Blest taking the silver.
The final event of the day was Women’s open with a young North Berwick crew relying on their fitness to take a very narrow victory over Portobello by just one second, and Crail coming in seven seconds further back.
So a sharing round of wins amongst five of the 12 clubs, with silvers and bronzes going to others, and everybody enjoying the challenge and the apres skiff. Full results have now been published by North Berwick and the North Berwick Rowing Club Flickr page has many great shots of the participating crews.
There was close racing to be had at Stonehaven’s first regatta. Skiffs from Catterline, Collieston, Portsoy and Pittenweem attended as part of a wider harbour festival. The event was a real showcase, and it is hoped that Stonehaven will be galvanised into building a community skiff. There were also some queries from folk from Aberdeen and Montrose.
Club racing included men’s, women’s, mixed and mixed 40+ , as well as a time for social rowing and a chance for confident passers by to have a go. The day finished with a scratch race, with one rower from each club in each boat.
Full results will be added later in the week. In the meantime some video of a close finish can be seen below, followed by a photo of beautiful turned wood prizes:
Avoch have launched skiff number 72, and have called her Zulu. The name is in honour of the big herring drifters with heavily raked sterns that used to ply the waters around the Moray Firth. Avoch’s coastal rowers, the Skiffties, are looking forward to making use of Zulu on the local waters, and indeed joining in with events around the coast.
Ardersier and Gairloch skiffies joined the celebrations with their skiffs Esther and Longa, and took novices from around Avoch out for a try. As it turned out there was also a visitor who was able to speak in the Zulu language, and gave the boat a traditional Zulu blessing. It was a very memorable and emotional day for the Skiffties and Avoch in general. The day finished with a BBQ, traditional music by Feis Rois and a party in the boat shed which went on until the wee small hours. What a day!
See the post below for brief details of forthcoming launches at Amble, the Netherlands, Broughty Ferry, Wormit and Barra. Information about the Avoch Skiffties and how to get involved can be found on their facebook page and website.
Those who are interested in seeing St Ayles skiffs in action are spoiled for choice on the weekend of 23 and 24 August. Events featuring the boats will be taking place at North Berwick, Stonehaven, Largs, Inverness, Newcastle and Amble.
One of the biggest gatherings of the year will take place at North Berwick on the Firth of Forth on Saturday 23 August. This is always a challenge as well as a regatta, with crews setting out on a racing voyage of 2 miles from the harbour around the off lying Craigleith Island and back to the harbour. Race positions can vary as the conditions facing the racing crews vary depending on the way the wind and tide are striking the island. Every crew that completes the course knows they have achived something special. There are due to be 15 skiffs present, with the hosts and Portobello supplying 2 crews for many of the 8 categories, and visiting skiffs also coming from as far afield as Isle of Islay, Coigach, Newburgh, Anstruther, Crail and St Andrews. Shorter journeys will be made by Queensferry, Eskmouthe, Boatie Blest, and Dunbar. Best viewing of the racing is from Platcock Rocks. Teas, coffees and chat available on the Hope Rooms and the beach on the West Bay, where crews change over.
North East crews are having a get together at Stonehaven Harbour on Sunday 24 August as part of the Stonehaven Harbour Festival. Collieston, Portsoy, Catterline and Pittenweem will be racing it out, and hopefully those from the host town will be inspired to put together a community project to build a skiff of their own.
Meanwhile in Northumberland the English Bank Holiday is being marked with a gathering of old gaffers on the River Tyne in Newcastle City Centre. Grace of Gosforth and Crofton, Blythe’s skiff, will be there and their crews will no doubt be delighted to tell others of the enjoyment to be had from building and rowing community skiffs. On the Sunday the action moves to Amble, where the existing skiffs will want to welcome Amble’s new skiff to the water on her launch date, which takes place during the Lifeboat Day.
Largs is hosting its first rowing regatta on 23 August, organised by Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club. Local skiffs from the Clyde will be in attendance, including Saltire and skiffs from Royal West and Troon. The action is taking place from Largs Marina, with sprints as well as a couple of long distance races.
Finally skiffies from Burghead, Ardersier and Avoch will be taking part in “Go Wild on the Canal” . This is a come and try session for a variety of activities, held at the Muirtown Basin on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness on 23 August. The fun starts at 10am.