What did we do before youtube?

We would have had to wrack our brains to try to remember rowing in flat seas without 10 layers of clothing.  But now with a bit of a search you can find this:


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Tass Skiffie 2015 Update


The start of the Tasmanian St.Ayles Skiff Regatta (13th  – 15th February) gets closer every day and the race is on to have everything in place for this significant event. The Living Boat Trust in Franklin has issued guidelines regarding crew rules and registration, and ask that crews register by 1st February at the very latest. Organisers are currently recruiting volunteers to help with the usual regatta tasks of setting up and packing away, registration of crews, marshalling etc. If you can help or have contacts closer to the venue who are interested in contributing some time, please get in touch as soon as possible to facilitate organisation of support. An online form is available on the Living Boat Trust website, or alternatively you can register your interest by emailing both

  • Barbara Dawson  barbara.dawson@bigpond.com;
  • Ronda Longuet  luckedevils2@hotmail.com.

Tass Skiffie Poster

The Living Boat Trust are a non-profit community organisation active in maintaining traditional boat building, rowing and sailing skills, and promoting the St.Ayles Skiff on the beautiful Huon River. Since 2005, they have also organised the Tawe Nunnugah (28th January – 6th February), a two-yearly 100 nm raid of small boats rowing and sailing from Recherche Bay to Hobart,  arriving at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival commencing 6th – 9th February. This year, ‘The Homecoming’ will then see a mini-raid return from Conningham (South of Hobart) to Franklin to join the St. Ayles Skiff regatta at Port Huon on Thursday 12th February and proceed to Franklin to the first ever Southern hemisphere championships, organised by Women on the Water (WOW).

Following on the sale of the 200th St.Ayles Skiff kit, the Living Boat Trust are delighted to have none other than Alec Jordan open Tass Skiffie 2015,  the culmination of two weeks of boaty bliss down under and an adventure that started in a land far away and not too long ago. Look how far we’ve come.


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Inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker

Following the continued growth of the County Down St. Ayles Fleet, Dundrum were delighted to host the inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker event on the 27th of December, which saw the skiffs racing in Dundrum Bay. The intitial challenge saw teams from the communities of Dundrum, Killyleagh, Donaghadee, Portaferry and Strangford overcome the reality of  post-festive indulgence skiff racing, and then compete to be declared winners of the ‘Frozen Rollocks’ Trophy 2014.

As with all great skiff regattas, the close racing was complemented by skiffie banter and declared a grand day out, with hosts Dundrum rowing ‘Danny Buoy’ to victory.

Dundrum Icebreaker 2014

Skart @Dundrum Icebreaker

Dundrum Icebreaker results

Thanks to Michael Armstrong and Stephen Armstrong for images used. For more pics from the day, see Down Coastal Rowing and Dundrum Coastal Rowing Facebook pages.

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Eskmuthe Building their Club and a Skiff

While some are watching Silent Witness, warming themselves by the fire or bashing the treadmill, Eskmuthe rowers are having a fine old time building a second skiff for their East Lothian based club.  For the second time they are using space at the Prestongrange Mining Museum, between Wallyford and Prestonpans.

Although this is the club’s second boat, it is actually the first build for all those involved. The club’s  first boat was built by a group of locals who decided to move on to other projects, rather than stay involved in the rowing.  The new builders have help from one of the sailors at Fisherrow Yacht Club who teaches woodwork, but other than that valuable resourse it has really been complete beginners in the woodwork field that have been building.  Their club sercratary tells us:  “It has been great fun and has really cemented our club. “
The build is progressing wonderfully, and everyone seems to be enjoying it.  You can follow progresson their excellent, regularly updated blog….  a useful resource for anyone out there about to start building a skiff.  Eskmuthe are happy to hear from and encourage others in the process:  eskmuthe”at”gmail.com

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Cold winds blow, it’s time to row

It’s cold. A bit grey. Suffering a little from turkey bloat. But skiffies everywhere are enjoying new year rowing, and that feeling of well being that only a happy crew and community built skiff can bring.

Skiffies in Broughty Ferry, Anstruther and North Berwick rather enjoyed watching the traditional New Year’s Day Loony Dook from the relative comfort of their skiffs.

Broughty ferry Loony Dook

Broughty Ferry Loony Dook

north berwick Loony Dook

North Berwick Loony Dook

And it seems there could be no better place to be on the 3rd January than north in Helmsdale, as conditions looked perfect for a post-festive row in the Moray Firth.

Bunilidh New Year 2

Bunilidh New Year

Troon CRC and Carrick rendezvoused  in Maidens on January 4th, enjoyed mince pies and shortbread, and then hastily rowed it off in testing conditions, which brought back memories of last year’s Exciseman’s Chase. Amidst crew changes and banter, a great day out was had by all, despite the cold, and unfortunate bare legs of some.



At the same time, across the Irish Sea, Dundrum were enjoying a relaxed day’s rowing in ‘Danny Buoy’, following their success in claiming ‘The Frozen Rollocks’ trophy at the inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker just a few weeks ago.

Dundrum 12 Arches

The Twelve Arches on the Carrigs River

Embrace winter rowing – follow the lead of hardy skiffies everywhere and aspire to see more of this -

Portobello Hogmanay Sunrise

Portobello Hogmanay Sunrise – Ali Grant

– in 2015. Wrap up, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Go on, beat the bloat in a boat.


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Jim MacRitchie



We were saddened to hear of the death after a short illness of Jim MacRitchie.  Jim is shown above in the bow of the umpire launch at the first ever St Ayles skiff regatta, at Anstruther in 2010.  Jim was a former President of the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association, and was very enthusiastic about the resurgence of coastal rowing in Scotland. He supported coastal rowing in Scotland by umpiring at early regattas at Anstruther and at Royal West, as well as paying an annual subscription to the SCRA and enthusing about coastal rowing to his slide seat rower colleagues.  He was a long standing member of Royal West.

There is an obituary in the Scotsman.  Jim’s funeral takes place on Wednesday 7 January 2015 at 2pm at Woodside Crematorium, Paisley.  We know that Scottish Coastal Rowing was in his thoughts during his final illness, and in turn he and his family are in our thoughts now.


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And the 200th St Ayles Skiff Kit Goes To……….

It does not seem that long ago since I received the order from St Andrews Rowing Club for the 100th St Ayles kit in May 2013. Skiffy Worlds in Ullapool gave a big boost to the numbers, and by the end of 2013 orders totalled 158. I started thinking around September that there may be a chance of breaking through the 200 mark by the end of the year, and this happened a few days ago; providing the orders are confirmed with actual payment, we now stand at 202 skiffs around the world.

While our roots are definitely in Scotland, the proportion of skiffs going furth of Scotland is continuing to increase. The last twenty orders break down as:

Scotland 7
England 3
Canada 1
Australia 3
N Ireland 3
France 1 (TBC)

The three skiffs to N Ireland are going to Co Antrim, the Canadian skiff is Picton’s second, One of the English skiffs is destined for Dartmouth, deep in Pilot Gig country, and the US skiffs are for schools at Toledo on Lake Erie and on a lake in North Carolina.

The destination for the other two English skiffs cannot be disclosed for a few weeks yet.

And which club has purchased the 200th? Just happens to be St Andrews…

Looking forward to 2015, we are expecting more interest from south of the border. Robson Greene’s “Tales of Northumberland” in January will be showing the Northumberland skiffs racing with RG in the boat. The skiff being built in Dartmouth will hopefully raise interest on the south coast to complement the Pilot Gigs. The first Kings Lynn skiffs should be launched soon, increasing the visibility of the class in Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that at least three of the Strangford Clubs are considering ordering second skiffs, and other locations in Antrim are thinking about building.

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart will see Skiff Sprints being raced in front of thousands, with the largest Southern Hemisphere meeting of skiffs so far being possible with the attendance of a couple of the New Zealand skiffs as well as most of the Australian fleet. There are already several other communities in Australia which are raising funds to buy their kits.

There have been more enquiries in the USA so we will see the fleet there continue to grow. The main North American meeting is expected to be Lake Champlain in July – an event I would recommend to anyone with the inclination to visit New England.

We are expecting full confirmation in January for the French kit mentioned above. This is from a small town on the Channel, so we are hoping for the usual ripple effect along the coast from there.

Alltogether a very promising picture for the continued growth of the class through next year.

As always, I thank all of the skiffies around the world for your custom, and look forward to seeing many of you over the next year.

Alec Jordan

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Skiffie Year Planner 2015

It is that time of year…. the days really are starting to get longer!  We are all starting to look ahead, and wondering where our rowing boats will take us in 2015.

The first thing to mention is that the year will start with the biggest ever gathering of Southern Hemisphere St Ayles skiffs.  The Tassieskiffies 2015 takes place around the Australian Wooden Boat festival at Hobart followed by events at Cygnet and at Franklin.  Skiffs from New Zealand, South Australia and Victoria are due to be joining the Tasmanian skiffs for the events, which take place from 8 to 15 February.  And no, its not too late to book a flight to Hobart.  There will be a few Scottish Coastal Rowers present.

We add regatta dates to our 2015 calendar as clubs send us in to us.  May is looking rather empty at the moment, so hopefully clubs will step in and organise more events (and let us know about them!).  The local club run regatta is the main building block for growth of St Ayles skiff rowing.  10, 20, 30 or even 40 club members can travel to use their skiff and represent each community at a local event.  There is nothing like a looming race against your local competitors to encourage you to get out there and practice on your home waters.   The cameraderie between neighbouring communities is heartwarming, and the local regatta is where ideas and enthusiasm is shared.

To that end we have noted in the calendar which regions of the country each regatta takes place in.  Clubs should try their very best to support regattas in their own region.  At the moment we have divided the country into:  South East (Eyemouth to Queensferry), Fife and Angus (North Queensferry to Aberdeen), North (Aberdeen, round the top, to Ardnamurchan, including the Western Isles), Argyll (Ardnamurchan to Glasgow, including Mull and Islay) and SouthWest (Glasgow down to Annan).  These are not set in stone!  This is of course not to put off people from travelling a long distance to take part in further flung regattas… that too is part of the fun.  Those far flung regattas will not happen though, if they are not supported by their nearest and dearest skiffy neighbours.  Those regattas declared in each of the regions so far for 2015 are as follows.  Contact the organisers directly for more details:

South East

14-June Dunbar Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club Middle Distance
20-June Newhaven Newhaven Coastal Rowing Club Forth Midsummer Challenge
27-Jun Queensferry Queensferry and N.Queensferry RCs
29-Aug North Berwick North Berwick Rowing Club Round that Island

Fife and Angus

31-May-2015 Anstruther St Ayles Rowing Club Anstruther Harbour Festival
27-Jun-2015 Queensferry North Queensferry and Queensferry RCs

1 August 2015   Firth of Tay            Broughty Ferry Boating


6-Jun-2015 Gairloch Gairloch Coastal Rowing Club Open regatta
7-Jun-2015 Gairloch Gairloch Coastal Rowing Club Open regatta
27-Jun-2015  Helmsdale  Bunillidh Rowing Club
04-Jul-2015 Portsoy Portsoy CRC Scottish Trad Boat Fest
11 July Loch Broom Ullapool CRC (+ Loch Broom SC)
1 August  Collieston  Colliston ORC



31 May Loch Melfort Isle of Seil CRC Invitation
27-28 June Loch Fyne Viking Festival Tour and races
4-7 Sept Tobermory, Mull Isle of Mull Coastal Rowing various events
6-Sept-2015 Tobermory, Mull Isle of Mull Coastal Rowing Cruising in company and/or long distance race

South West


6-Jun-2015 Troon Troon Coastal Rowing Club  Open regatta
15/16 Aug Cumbrae Cumbrae Coastal Rowing Club
22 August  Largs  Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club  Open Regatta
12 Sept Dumfries Nith Navigation Race (PDDG/SCRA) 6 mile river race
19 Sept Maidens Carrick CRC:  The Exciseman’s Chase 8k TT + Sprints


In addition to the regattas outlined above, SCRA clubs are welcome at various expeditions.  Some of these have a competitive element.  Some are rather just tours or socials.  They tend to involve one crew having the one boat away for a period (so might be best for clubs with more than one skiff available to them).

11-17-May  Brittany, France  Vannes et Vilaine Skiffs de St Ayles en Bretagne  Semaine du Golfe
24-May Venice Vogalonga
30-May Cork, Ireland  Ocean to City (An Ras Mor)
26-27 June  Loch Fyne  Viking Festival
15-16 August Loch Sheil Jacobite Muster

6 Sept   Newcastle  Great Tyne Row

12 Sept  London   Great River Race


We expect there will be active St Ayles Skiffs one design racing elswhere this year.  We will post details and links as and when we get them.  The North East of England has a growing St Ayles fleet, as does the North Coast of Norfolk.  Both of these areas are likely to publish racing schedules.  Down Coastal Rowing Club now has a very active fleet, with Dundrum having hosted racing on 27 December.  Brrr.  The East Coast of the US, and the lakes between there and Quinte has a fleet that continues to grow.  We would love to publicise the dates of any events there where skiffs will be getting together.

Check out links tab above to track down extra information about St Ayles skiffs furth of Scotland.

And Finally….

Thank you for all being part of such a rewarding and enjoyable activity.  Thank you for continuing to reach out to others within your community, and then to other communities, where you will find like minded friends with salty shoes and a pride in their occasional blisters.  All the best for 2015.

Robbie Wightman
(Rower and Convenor SCRA)


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Skiffie Yearbook Part 2

Just a few more skiff memories of 2014.

July started in Loch Broom with the Ullapool Regatta, with a big attendance from following the Skiffieworlds the previous year.

There were skiff launches at Irvine, Blyth and Helmsdale.   Eskmuthe held their first ever regatta:


August was a busy month, with Colliston and Stonehaven both hosting their first ever skiff regattas.

There was also skiff racing in the City Centres of Newburgh, Newcastle and Inverness, and on the sea at Largs, North Berwick, Cumbrae and Islay.  Skiffs were launched at Avoch, Belhaven,


Moving into September, we had the season for time trial type events with the Exciseman’s Chase, the Nith Navigation Race and the  Great Tyne Row.

A Norfolk Broads tour took place, organised by Blakeney,  The Paxton Picnic took place on the Tweed, organised by Dunbar and welcoming boats from Eyemouth, North Berwick and Amble, and the Forth Flotilla took place at the bridges, both events reminding us that it is not all about racing! September saw a wheen of launchings, particularly of note being the first five skiffs in Northern Ireland, and the 100th St Ayles skiff launched, “Groot & Grut 2″ in Woudrichem:


With all these new skiffs, our friends at Down Coastal Rowing had to have a regatta to make sure that use was being made of them.  So the Narrows Challenges took place in Strangford Lough at the start of October:

With Killyleagh’s “Skart” winning overall line honours:

October saw the SCRA AGM at Loch Insh.  As in previous years this was held after a sprint regatta.  This year the regatta was organised into regional teams, with Fife and Angus winning the Gallagher Heath Shield.



Boatie Blest won the Cruising log competition, with their tale of a trans continental journey to take part in the Voga Longa in Venice, with stop offs at various Alpine lakes.

I have not been able to include everything in this brief reminiscence.  Check through our Register of Craft to find links to articles on most of the launchings for the year.  Share your own favourite memories on the SCRA Facebook Group. Please make sure you get your regatta dates in soon, so that everyone can spend a fun time planning their travels for the 2015 season.

All photos are taken from elsewhere on the SCRA site, where full photo credit is given.

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2014, a skiffie yearbook. (part 1)

Take a few moments to reflect on a great year of Coastal Rowing and friendship.  What was your favourite memory of 2014?  Here are a few to get you thinking.  There is of course plenty else to choose from.  Scroll down through the old entries on the right to get some inspiration for the year ahead.  Below are a few to think about.

The year turned with a skiff on the front page of Watercraft Magazine.  A pdf of the article is available here.

In February we had a successful regatta organiser’s seminar at Loch Insh.  Attendees discussed what makes a good regatta, and encouraged each other to get on with regatta planning….  starting the next day.  The winning crew from the resulting handicap racing was a composite with members from Seil, Islay, Eskmuthe, North Berwick and Queensferry.


Mull was one of the communities to launch a skiff in March.  Eala Bhan was piped down to the waters edge.  Quite rightly Coastal Rowing is becoming a popular past time in the Scottish Islands.  There has been an active scene in Sheltland for many years using Shetland Yoles.  St Ayles skiffs are now active on Barra, Cumbrae, Islay, Seil, Luing, Lewis with further builds now underway elswhere on the Western Isles and on Arran.

In April seven clubs attended the first regatta of the 2014 season at Port Seton.  The races are 3 minutes of frantic sprinting and turning within the confines of Port Seton harbour.

Also in April, St Andrews extracted their skiff “Sandbay Century” from the first floor building space of the sailing club prior to launch:


May is always a busy month for Scottish Coastal rowers.  In May 2014 two clubs, North Berwick and Anstruther launched their third St Ayles skiffs, with skiffs also launched at Newburgh and Luing.  There were regattas at Anstruther, Annan, Coigach, Queensferry (The Alan Meldrum Community Challenge), North Berwick (Trades Cup) and (as shown in the picture below) Tighnabruich and Isle of Seil.



In June, there were launches all over the country, and regattas in four corners too.  Newhaven held their first “midsummer challlenge” involving sailors and runners as well as rowers.  Portsoy Coastal Rowing Club took control of the skiff racing at the Scottish Traditional Boar Festival, and conditions were officially defined as “lively”.




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