Last Chance to Vote for Troon Coastal Rowing Club

There are now only a few days left to vote and help Troon Coastal Rowing Club in their bid to fund a new boatshed and clubhouse through the Aviva Community Fund.

The Aviva Community Fund aims to support community projects which satisfy a number of key criteria, supporting hard to reach groups, including our younger and older generations, as well as inclusivity across our communities, promoting accessibility and equality for all.  The fund allows projects to measure support through an online voting system, and those with the most votes through friends, family, and community supporters will be entered in the final, whereby a panel of judges then award the funds to deserving projects.

And most of us will be aware that the benefits of coastal rowing in our communities is both evident and measureable, and in the past five years has impacted positively on coastal communities throughout Scotland and further afield, increasing individual and community wellbeing.


In 2011 a small group of Troon residents took up the challenge and began building their first St Ayles skiff , assisted by pupils from Marr College as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The skiff was named ‘Marr Voyager’ and was launched in October 2011.  Following the launch, Troon Coastal Rowing Club was formed and now boasts over 60 members of all ages and a second skiff named ‘Ailsa Lass’.

Voting closes on Saturday 30th May – it takes five minutes to register your support for this deserving project, and with a clubhouse and secure boat storage, enable a skiffing community to build upon their success, providing community sport for all.


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North America Launches Two St.Ayles Skiffs

In Presque Isle Bay, on the shores of Lake Erie, Bayfront Maritime Centre and Erie School District have once more seen their year long alternative education initiative culminate in the launch of another kid built St. Ayles Skiff stateside.


‘Blue Pike’, sister skiff to ‘Mighty Oak’ launched in 2013, is boat number US12 in the Craft Register and doubles the capacity of Bayfront’s community rowing programme.  Bayfront works with disadvantaged kids and those at risk by designing year round learning,  and to date have built ninety two boats. The St. Ayles Skiff phenomenon has become their most recent and successful vehicle for their boat building curriculum, embracing science, maths, technology and ultimately teamwork, achievement and community rowing.  The kids’ success is both seen, felt and shared, by the individual, their crew and the wider community.

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Approximately 250 kids were involved overall in the building of ‘Blue Pike’, under the watchful eye of lead build Jodi Carpenter, and sporting a white hull and maroon sheer strake, she was launched to the sound of traditional bagpipes last Friday 15th May.

And a week later, Davidson Community School in North Carolina have launched skiff number US14, ‘Sea Spartan’, put into the water for the first time at Lake Norman.  Lake Norman’s shoreline, at 520 miles, exceeds all of North and South Carolina combined, plenty potential for a whole fleet of St. Ayles!

IMG_1511 Sea Spartan

All funds for the kit were raised by the school kids, and the busy, dedicated build phase took just four months, led by a very proud Jim Dumser.  ‘Sea Spartan’ is a legacy project, built by graduating seniors to allow the school to implement a student and indeed community rowing programme  and the build team are hoping that it won’t be too long before ‘Sea Spartan’ inspires further skiff builds on the shores of Lake Norman.

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North America’s newest skiffs are intending to race at the North American St. Ayles Skiff Championships to be held on Lake Champlain in Vermont in mid July.



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Hundredth Skiff on UK Register: Whitburn (nr Sunderland)

whitburn tractor

One hundred skiffs have now been launched in the UK.  The 100th to take to the water has its home at Whitburn, a village just to the North of the City of Sunderland.    Whitburn is fishing village with a long history of rowing cobles.

An official naming ceremony is to be held later at Whitburn, but she has had her sea trials at Boulmer.  She is to be called Latimer Ledja ( a norse word meaning fast boat) .  Ledja will be used by the  staff of  Latimer’s Seafood  and local volunteers.   Details of the formal launch, to which all skiffies will be invited, will follow.whitburn jeff and ray

Amble CRC have been helping with the sea trials, and it is hoped that Ledja will be able to attend Amble’s regatta on 31 May.  Best of luck to Latimer Ledja, and to her crews, and congratulations to her lead builders Jeff and Ray (above).whitburn row stern

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Equipment You Must Carry

With the regatta season getting well underway, and regatta hosts sending out scrutineers to ensure that skiffs are compliant with racing requirements, it is a sensible time to remind all clubs and crews of the equipment that must be carried when racing under the SCRA rules of racing.  The rules are drafted to cover any class that is racing, not just St Ayles skiffs.  They are sensible things that most good seafarers would consider essential in any case, and including them in the rule ensures that no one pays a penalty in weight for behaving in a seaman like manner.  Rule 2 requires that every craft carries the following:

(a) A waterproofed means of communicating with the shore (preferably a working hand held VHF radio, which failing a mobile phone with list of essential numbers for the event).

(b) At least two means of efficiently bailing the boat.

(c) Personal Flotation Devices for each crew member. These must be worn by all crew members at all times.

(d) A length of rope of at least 14mm diameter and at least 8 meters in length, securely attached to a strong point in the bow of the boat and capable of being used to tow boat with crew.

(e) An Anchor, together with a suitable chain and line of minimum 30 metres, giving a combined minimum weight of anchor, chain and line of 7kg, all as suitable for use in the conditions and area of use.

(f) In addition it is recommended that boats carry a throwing rope; flares; space blanket for hypothermia, first aid kit, smoke signals, and spare wooly hat.

If you do not carry these items you may be refused entry into a race, or disqualified following a race, (at the discretion of the umpires or referee or race organiser) and we really don’t want that to happen.

The SCRA is only in a position to regulate what is carried when racing.  In training and leisure use it is for the owners of the boat and the skipper on the day to regulate what must be on board before the crew takes to the water. However good practice would suggest that the kit above, required for racing in any event, would be a sensible starting point.

While on rule 2, remember that if required to do so by race organisers, crews shall display a number in their bow reflecting the register number allocated by SCRA.  Please note it is the number in the SCRA Register of Craft that is your skiff number, not the kit number issued by your kit manufacturer (which some skiffs will have on an oval plaque).  It is only once built, launched and named that a kit becomes a St Ayles skiff.  Before that it is only a pile of plywood, all be it with wonderful potential.



The numerals displayed should  be at least 20cm in height and displayed on a background of contrasting colour.  However the exact method of display is left to the discretion of the club.  Displaying the number is particularly appreciated by umpires at large events, or where more than one boat has a similar colour scheme.

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Bell Ringers at Annan Harbour Festival

pride of Annan

The skiff here is “Pride of Annan”, and Annan was right to be proud of their skiff, their rowers and their town, as Coastal Rowing Crews descended on the town for the Second Bell Ringers Raid.  The race is down the River from Annan, joining the Solway Firth, which is crossed, landing in England at Bowness.  The competitors then encounter the locals and parley with them before returning with the Bell.  Full explanation in earlier post!

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Local novice rowers were crewing the Annan skiff for its first ever race.  They drafted in some experienced crew mates from Boatie Blest and Royal West, and set out into the very challenging conditions with strong winds joining the always entertaining tidal conditions in the upper Solway.  Troon, Royal West and Boatie Blest (from Cockenzie and Port Seton) each brought a skiff and crew to take part in the challenge.

The results were as follows:

Winner Boatie Blest, 1hr 29 mins.

Royal West 1hr 33 mins.

Troon 1hr 40.

Annan 1hr 59

We will post links to other reports as they come in, but in the meantime you can see what those taking part in the day made of it by watching Annan TV!

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Skiffs at Semaine de Golfe


Four St Ayles Skiffs were at the Semaine de Golfe in Brittany last week. Pittenweem, Bristol, the Dutch and CRA Blakeney all turned out for a week of tourning in amazing nautical company. It was a fantastic event, boats everywhere and lots and lots of rowing.  Two early starts left some crew members somewhat tired but everyone had a great time.

Pittenweem and Blakeney crews were invited to the home of the Brittany skiff for a barbecue.  The Breton skiff builders were delighted to meet other skiffies and have the chance to examine and photograph various bits of the visiting skiffs to help them on their build. Needless to say offers of help by email or visits were made too.

The photo (credit Antonia Hardcastle) is a view of the la grande parade from the Blakeney skiff.   A bit of herding cats going on there we think.

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News from the Western Isles

First of all to Lewis where on Sat 16th May there will be a training day for rowers at Shawbost, with attendance from Stornoway Rowing Club, An Eathar, and very excitingly “sea trials” for the St Ayles skiff being built by the pupils of the Nicholson Institute. Launch is at 10 am on the freshwater of Loch a’ Bhaile.

Members of the public are most welcome to come and watch the launch and there will also be an opportunity to have a peak at the almost completed An Eathar Rowing club boat, which is in the garden shed at the Old School. There is a competition to name the boat and the 70 entries so far will be displayed.

Over 30 rowers (in total) now booked to improve their rowing with coach Ali Grant of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association. Please pop down and take a look and see how the Hebridean rowing scene is developing, you will be very welcome.

And talking of the rowing scene developing, the skiff on Grimsay was turned over last week.  The community at the North End of North Uist turned out in force to help Robert Taylor, who has been funding and building the skiff, lift her clear of her moulds.  Read all about the skiff build in the latest edition of Island News. A pdf of page 14 can be found here.  Ours is the second story on the page, just below the piece about the plaque being put in place in tribute the the rusting Massey-Ferguson TEF-20 tractor sitting amongst peat stacks on the North Uist Road.

Robert is now at the stage of scraping glue from the inside of the hull…..  a job where many hands really can make light work, so if you possibly can please help him out with a scraper, some sandpaper and a bit of elbow grease.  No power, water or light in the shed, so it is a daylight only build!  Looking great!

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There are several builds going on in the Islands, and it is hoped that the groups can come together at  Stornoway Port Authority’s 150 Anniversary. There will be  regatta on Saturday 30th May to mark the occasion, and Barra have managed to raise funds to travel all the way from the South of the Archipelago to take part.

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Skiffs Launched at Eskmuthe and Gateshead

Two more skiffs join the fleet, “Harry Clasper” (number 96) and “Steedie Falconer” (number 95).

Steedie Falconer is the second skiff launched at Fisherrow by Eskmuthe Rowing Club.  She is the same colour scheme as the club’s flagship “Honesty”.  “Steedie Falconer” was named by Steedie’s daughter Stella.  The photo below is from Eskmuthe’s Facebook Page.  Drop in there if you are from the area and would like to have a go in the clubs lovely St Ayles skiffs.

steedie falconer




Meanwhile there was a big do for the launch of Gateshead Community Rowing Club’s skiff “Harry Clasper”.  The boat is named after the greatest sportsman ever in the North East of England, a great oarsman of the professional era, who won races with huge wagers hanging on them.

harry clasper

The launch was attended by skiffs from Alnmouth, Amble, Byker, Gosforth, Blyth and Port Seton, all wishing this new addition to the North East fleet the best, and congratulating her builders on a job well done.   The skiffs lined up on the River Tyne for a race through Newcastle City Centre.  The experienced Boatie Blest crew from Port Seton took the honours on the line, and were presented with their medals by Chairman of “British Rowing”, Annamarie Phelps.

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Gateshead are keen to recruit members, and are offering several taster sessions on the Tyne.  More information through their facebook page or website.






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Castell i Gastell wi’ Boatie 2015

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5 rowers from Boatie Blest travelled to North Wales last weekend (9 May) to take part in the annual Castell i Gastell (Castle to Castle) rowing race, reports Gareth Jones.

The event is organized by the rowing clubs in Beaumaris on the south east coast of Anglesey and the Royal Welsh Yacht Club in Caernarfon , Gwynedd.  It sees rowers, mostly competing in fiberglass Celtic Longboats, race between the two towns, each of which has an impressive 13th Century castle.   The course is 12 miles long and passes through the notorious Menai Straits, under the Menai and Britannia bridges, ending below the walls that surround Caernarfon.

Boatie Blest made the trip in 2014 and completed the course in very wet and windy conditions in around 2 ½ hours.  This year they were determined to improve on their time and were hoping for better weather, which eventually they got.  There was still a bit of a headwind and a good Welsh downpour at the start (the Welsh seem to have more words for rain than the Eskimos have for snow) but it was significantly better than last year and the sea, although still quite lumpy over the last few miles, was positively calm in comparison.

The mixed crew, coxed by club Captain Stuart Mack, were able to keep up with a good number of the Longboats as they battled out into the Straits, past Bangor Pier and on towards the Thomas Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge Bridge.  The next stretch of water is the well known Swellies, where the channel narrows, the tidal flow increases and submerged rocks challenge vessels, causing spectacular flows and whirlpools.  Fortunately the race was timed well and all crews passed safely under the next bridge, Robert Stephenson’s re-built and now double-deck Britannia Bridge.

As the Straits wound to the south west they became more exposed to the wind and the sea rose to provide some interesting rowing conditions.  A bit of sharp coxing however provided an opportunity to overtake one of the Longboats and with less than two miles to go Boatie Lodge was in front of five other crews.  The position was held up to the finish line, marked by a cannon shot from the fortified gate in the town walls, which houses the club house of the Royal Welsh Yacht Club.  The time was 2 hours and 2 minutes.

The Welsh clubs were extremely welcoming and as well as providing food to all the crews the Royal Welsh’ also awarded a special trophy, in the shape of a red dragon, to Boatie Blest as the winner’s in the St Ayles Skiff class.  Perhaps next year there will be more competition for them?  A number of the Welsh clubs also expressed an interest in coming up to Scotland sometime soon and hopefully they would be made to feel equally welcome.

winning boatie

Pictures by Jon Gerrard:

8270 – (Before a wet start) Boatie Lodge with cox Stuart Mack and rowers Carmel Daly, Gareth Jones, Louise Laing

8274 – Winners of the skiff class at Caernarfon L-R Jon Gerrard, Carmel Daly, Gareth Jones, cox Stuart Mack and Louise Laing

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Findhorn Launch ‘Joppa’

Following 18 months build phase, Findhorn Coastal Rowing Club on the Moray Firth launched their St. Ayles Skiff ‘Joppa’ yesterday. ‘Joppa’, the name locals use to refer to Findhorn, was built by a small dedicated team including skilled boatbuilder Frank Whyte, whose father before him carried on the tradition of boatbuilding in Findhorn.



The weather couldn’t have been better yesterday and ‘Joppa’ was officially named by team member Celia Shand.  Blest with the traditional quaich filled with the water of life, ‘Joppa’, boat number 98 was welcomed into the silky waters of the firth by skiffs and crew from Ardesier, Avoch, Burghead, Portsoy and Collieston rowing clubs.



Celebrations continued through the afternoon with relaxed rowing, shore side songs, an evening ceilidh and that skiffing community launch day magic of a job well done.




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