Skiffies are of course more interested in getting out on the water with their crewmates when it is light, or building and maintaining boats with their fellow builders when it is dark, rather than sitting in and watching TV. However two programmes coming up will be of particular interest. These are the anticipated schedules…… check your listing schedules and if necessary catch up on line.
First up on 15 March BBC’s Countryfile are due to be broadcasting a programme filmed in and around Strangford Lough. Strangford Lough Ranger, Jen Firth, DOE, artist Sara Brown , and archaeologist Liam Mcquillan, DOE, will be taking them around the Dorn at Ardkeen, while Down Coastal Rowers introduce them to boatbuilding with one of their St Ayles’ Skiffs. There will be some action from the water, with crews recently filmed at Ardglass. Keep up with the activities of Down Coastal Rowers on their facebook page. Photos above from Hugh Oram of Dundrum.
On the 16th March tune in to episode 5 of “Tales from Northumberland” on ITV. This may not be available in all regions, so do check and go onto ITV player if need be. The programme features Robson Green, who turns up to help build Ambles skiff “Coquet Spirit” and chats to Rob Angus and others about the project. We then see Robson taking part in a mini regatta at Amble, organised for the purpose, and featuring skiffs from Amble, Gosforth, Blyth and North Berwick. Amble have a great facebook page (from which these photos are taken) and website.
Watch out all the southern softy crews…….. the North have already been practicing for the 2015 regatta season with friendly sprints. A few weeks ago northern crews gathered at Avoch, this weekend they were mustering at Ullapool. From the photos you may come to the conclusion that balmy midge filled evenings are still some way off.
Topher Dawson of Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club comments “Thanks to all who braved the rather wintry weather today and made the practice race session such fun. We had boats and crews from Portsoy, Chanonry, Gairloch, Loch Broom Sailing Club and Ullapool CRC, plus representatives from Coigach, Golspie and Lochinver. The wind was gusting 38mph but we managed many tightly fought sprints along Shore St in reasonable flat water. We are very grateful to Loch Broom Sailing Club for their snug clubhouse and shelter with chiminea! Thanks to all who made soup and sandwiches, and doled out coffee and tea. Well done to all the far traveled crews and their boats.”
Being right on trend we hope you like these pictures of blue and black skiffs:
Of course a full list of the skiffs that have been launched and their colour schemes, no white and gold ones, can be found on the craft register.
Sometimes it sounds like we’re all speaking another language – and often we are! Eala Bhan? Tarbh Uisge? Beautiful, lyrical Gaelic names, inspiring wonder and curiosity, a celebration of our Gaelic heritage. Magical, but perhaps a little tricky for those with little or no experience of our native language! And even though we share those Celtic ancestral bonds, an Irish skiffie may not pronounce the names quite the same as a Scottish skiffie; it’s time for a massive online learning initiative!
So, finally, we have put our heads together and with huge thanks to Ann MacKin of Anstruther CRC, ‘Gaelic Skiff names for Everyone, Everywhere’ is coming your way soon, with a view to helping us all to get our Gaelic right. Ann has recently completed recording all gaelic names in the skiff register as an educative aid; these will take the form of audio files, which ‘click and play’ – so make like a Gaeilgeoir (gaelic speaker) and repeat after Ann!
At next year’s World’s, say it with confidence and pride, whether rowing for the eastern or western hemisphere, north or south. A ‘cupla focal’ (a few words) goes a long way.
Check back soon!
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont is once more scheduled to host the North American St Ayles Skiff Challenge on the weekend of 11th and 12th of July this summer.
Last year’s Challenge saw Canada’s ‘Sea Shadow’ join the LCMM’s ‘Perseverance’ (US03)and ‘Resilience’ (US04), as well as Moravian Academy’s Sephira (US06), and Renbrook School’s William S. Shipp (US07) for a weekend of social rowing on Saturday and a three mile challenge on Sunday.
The challenge this year will have a similar format to last year’s event, with racing on Saturday July 11 and Sunday July 12. On Saturday morning there will be a fun one-mile race of St. Ayle’s Skiffs and Cornish Pilot Gigs to a harbor across the lake, where rowers will have a chance to relax, perhaps take a swim, before racing back to the museum’s North Harbor. Cornish Pilot Gigs will be available to teams on a first come basis. Rowers will have the option of racing one way across the lake and returning leisurely or racing both ways. There will be separate classes for skiffs and gigs in this fee-free race.
After lunch, rowers will have the opportunity to explore the lake by boat. The museum’s fleet of skiffs and gigs will be available for those interested. Local maps of the lake and surrounding areas will be provided to encourage everyone to enjoy the beauty of Lake Champlain. There will also be free passes made available to all participants for the Martime Museum.
Sunday’s three mile triangular Challenge race will start at 11am, seeing seperate classes for gigs and skiffs race across the lake and back to the Museum’s harbour. Registration opens at 9.30am and costs 25$ per person. Organisers are hoping to build on the number of skiffs attending this year, though the Challenge race is open to all human powered boats. A generous buffet lunch will be provided to all participants in the usual community skiffie style. For more details regarding the North American St. Ayles Challenge, visit lcmm.org.
The Challenge will be preceded in late June by the Mystic Seaport Wooden Boat Festival on the Mystic River in Connecticut, taking place on the 26th – 28th, where the public will get to see the skiffs racing for fun.
Need cash? Need inspiration to put the ‘fun’ back into ‘fundraiser’? Whether you require new oars, perhaps a first, second or even third skiff, or maybe a travel fund to assist members during regatta season, club fundraisers are a great way to meet up, catch up and save up. Fancy the Vogalonga, or Cork’s Ocean to City’? Bigger trips may have bigger costs but with planning, we can all go further.
Collieston will soon be rocking the boat with their Seventies themed dinner dance at the end of February, a club celebration of the positivity the ‘Admiral Redsocks’ has brought to the community and pre-season fundraiser.
Stephen Hall of Catterline was most helpful last weekend as Montrose Coastal Rowing Club invited the public to ‘Meet the Boat’. ‘The Spirit of Catterline’ allowed Montrose residents a taste of fantastic things to come as their skiff build project progresses, and donors were presented with lovely MCRC badges.
Avoch Skiffties have done a good job of letting folk know who they are, what they’re about and where to find them.
If you hurry, you might just be able to purchase the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the skiffie in your life from Amble Coastal rowing’s Skiffie Shop – purveyors of swanky T’s, designed in house with time and skills donated, and all profits from the sales go directly into club funds.
What creative skiffies you all are.
Monday saw the racing action move from the Wooden Boat Festival to the Royal Hobart Regatta a mile or so north of the harbour.
The crews rowed their boats around to the Hobart Showgrounds past HMAS Sydney which should have been positioned as the guardship for the regatta. Unfortunately, some unfortunate RAN sailor got something wrong, and her 2½ ton anchor detached from the chain and was sitting at the bottom of the harbour.
Between the long distance swimming and sliding seat rowing events, the St Ayles exhibition races over 250m saw some close competition between the crews; Franklin and the Kiwis dominating a very close five skiff final race with the Kiwis taking the line by a small margin.
Later, four of the skiffs departed on the Reverse Raid to row the 50 odd miles back to Franklin over three days, some of which will be under tow.
Photos courtesy of Hans Sipsma
Many of the crews had not rowed together before – or perhaps even rowed at all before, so unsurprsingly, the event was dominated by the Huon River crews.
St Ayles Skiffs have been one of the big deals of the festival. Franklin’s second skiff – almost complete – has attracted huge interest in its excellent position where two parts of the festival displays are joined.
Straydog Boat Works are the Australian agents for the St Ayles, and on the stand we have been talking to people from all over Australia who want to get involved in the movement. Of particular interest is the Port of Freemantle in Western Australia and Royal Geelong Yacht Club near Melbourne.
On Monday, the skiffs will be racing at the Hobart Regatta. The action then takes a bit of a break and restarts on Thursday evening with the opening of the first Southern Hemisphere International Regatta.
More to come later in the week!
Besides friendly racing and weekend rowing , there’s plenty going on around the coast, preparing for the 2015 regatta season. Some of you are skiff turning, many of you are carrying out essential skiff maintenance, and oar, tarpaulin and trailer advice are all being shared between clubs just now.
Launched in 2012, Troon’s second skiff ‘Ailsa Lass’ has recently undergone refurbishment and is looking ‘affa bonny’, as is Isle of Mull’s second skiff, recently turned. Well done to you both!
In addition to clubs everywhere currently power washing, sanding, painting, oar breaking and consequently oar making, rumour has it that it’s not just the skiffs getting in shape but skiffies too, with fitness bootcamps and high intensity interval training being introduced to build core strength for the coming season. Maintaining fitness and sharing a fitness plan with your crew sustains motivation and well being, and further builds the trust required for great teamwork.
Looks like everyone’s getting ready to row, together.
If you live in or around Montrose, now is the time to become involved in the towns campaign to build a St Ayles Skiff. Their near neigbours from along the coast at Catterline are bringing their skiff “Spirit of Catterline” along to Montrose Farmers Market, this Saturday 7 February. Here is a chance to admire the boat and speak to some who have built and rowed a skiff already. Visitors to the market can also chat to Montrose Coastal Rowing Club committee members about how to get involved in the project or simply offer support and encouragement!
As part of the club’s funding drive supporters can buy one of the 36 planks that will make up the skiff. Each one is £30 minimum donation and you will get a lovely certificate (see below). Once the boat is built it is hoped to make a limited edition artwork at the end, recording those who have bought planks. Find out how to buy your plank here: http://montrosecoastalrowing.weebly.com/fundraising.html
One of the things the club really needs is a shed to build the skiff in. Please get in touch with the club if you or someone you know has a suitable shed for this purpose. More information on the club facebook page and website.