Troon and Carrick Coastal Rowing Clubs from Ayrshire accepted the kind invitation to row at the annual Dalriada Festival in Glenarm, County Antrim. Attendance is made possible by the very kind sponsorship of the event by P&O ferries, which allows the skiff and towing vehicle to travel on the Cairnryan to Larne ferry for free. Various Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs have attended the festival over the years, taking squads of rowers across to contribute to the economy and the party in Northern Ireland, thanks in part to this excellent deal.
Unfortunately, for the first time, the racing did not go ahead. The fog was in so thick that the course could not be seen. The Scottish Rowers never the less enjoyed and educated themselves, taking local rowers out in the St Ayles skiffs, and in turn having a go in the local class of GRP gigs. The Ayrshire rowers were also very impressed by the boat houses and pubs available to the local gig crews.
Two new skiffs joined the fleet this weekend, one in Northumberland and one in Sutherland. (For those of you not in the UK it might not be obvious that Northumberland is in the South and Sutherland is pretty far north). The following pictures have all been shared onto the Scottish Coastal Rowing Facebook Group.
Crofton (skiff number 69) was launched at Blythe. She was paraded through town behind a marching band, before being blessed, named and launched. Gosforths “Grace” met her on the water and Byker Belle was also in attendance.
Pride of Bunillidh was lauched in the afternoon in Helmsdale, Sutherland. She is skiff number 70 on the register of craft. She was named by Davy Cowie, a retired fishing skipper whose family owned the previous fishing vessels going by the name Pride of Bunillidh.
Congratulations to all those involved in getting both these boats from sheets of plywood to the stage of launching beautiful skiffs. Good luck to all those who have the opportunity to benefit from the teamwork and hard work that went into building them, including those who put teamwork and hard work into racing them.
Sadly the racing at the Darliada festival due to take place over the weekend was cancelled due to very thick fog. If you can’t see the course, you can’t really race. This of course did not stop a skiff being launched and used around the marina!
There was a gathering of five St Ayles skiffs in Vermont over the weekend. This amounts to half the current North American fleet, and is the biggest gathering of St Ayles skiffs in the one place to date, outwith the UK. The gathering took place on Lake Champlain, where the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum keeps its two skiffs. Lisa Percival reports:
“We had a delightful weekend of rowing last Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13!! We had a total of 5 St.Ayles skiffs with two from LCMM, 1 from Ayle of Quinte in Picton Ontario, 1 from Moravian Academy in Pennsylvania (Sephira) and 1 from Renbrook Academy in Connecticut.
“We had glorious weather on Saturday for our 1 mile skiff race to a harbor across Lake Champlain, joined by 2 of our 32’Cornish Pilot gigs. After the race over, most rowers went for a swim or dip in the lake waters and relaxed for almost an hour before racing back to our harbor at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. We had a picnic lunch on the grounds and then rowers went back onto the lake for a more leisurely exploration of the area.
“On Sunday, July 13 the skiffs were joined by our fleet of gigs and several man powered smaller boats for our annual Challenge Race. Due to high winds and the threat of storms, we modified the course to follow the Vermont coastline—it was roughly a 3 mile oval race. Once the race was finished, all rowers and guests were invited to a sumptuous meal provided by our Community Rowing Club.”
Lisa describes it as a “wonderful event for all” and explains how the rowers thought of fellow skiffies from the 2013 worlds and knew how much we would have enjoyed joining in! One for next year?
For those of you interested in the results, clicky clicky. There is also now a report on the North American St Ayles website www.skiffies.org
St Ayles skiffs formed a guard of honour to welcome the Commonwealth Games Baton to the Isle of Cumbrae on 15 July 2014. Six skiffs formed the guard. The local boat “Cumbrae” was joined by skiffs from Irvine Coastal Rowing Club, Royal West, Firth of Clyde, Carrick and Galgael.
Galgael had been involved in making the baton, and the wood for the handle which they crafted came from an Elm Tree in the grounds of Garrison House on Cumbrae. The baton was therefore able to make a brief stop at its birthplace! After the baton made its way off the island, many locals and visitors took up the oportunity to have a try at the sport of coastal rowing in one of the skiffs.
Kathy Mansfield is an award winning marine photographer who was invited by the organisers of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival Portsoy to attend and record the 2014 festival. Her top quality photos really catch the drama, excitement and outrageous fun of rowing St Ayles skiffs, and are available for purchase. She writes on her blog:
“There haven’t been five fifies in Portsoy harbor for over 150 years — they were the stars of a great gathering, the other stars being countless St Ayles skiffs who despite the strong winds and swell put on a great show with their racing. Add to that the sailing boats, plenty of shanties from British and Norwegian groups, some top Scottish traditional music, food, ceilidhs, crafts — and the inauguration of the North Sea Ring, a coming together of traditional boat groups from around the North Sea. Photos are now uploaded, email Kathymansfield@mac.com for skiff photos @ £15, an event CD at £25 and others by request.”
Have a browse of Kathy’s website gallery for your favourite skiff. Some fantastic pictures in there.
The photo above shows Eskmuthe’s skiff Honesty turning to enter the Old Harbour, Portsoy. The one below shows half the SCRA committee testing the water in Boatie Lodge (and the joinery as it turned out). No one was harmed in the taking of this photo, and not a drop of water was shipped in the boat either!
Ullapool pulled off another fantastic regatta, with racing on Friday over a 2km course, timed sprints on the Friday night, a full day of racing on the Saturday over the 2km course, a ceilidh on the Saturday night and a picnic by skiff on the Sunday for those who did not have to start their travels early. It was the largest gathering of St Ayles skiffs so far this year, with 19 skiffs lined up along the beach. The skiffs were from Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club (2), Loch Broom Sailing Club, Ardersier, Coigach (2), Isle of Mull, Isle of Seil, Newburgh, Bunillidh (Helmsdale), Wick, Crail, Anstruther, North Berwick, North Queesferry (with a combined North/ South Queensferry crew, referred to as “Mid Queensferry”), Portsoy, Stornoway and Troon. Finally it was a great honour for the hosts to welcome Gairloch’s new skiff Longa attending her first ever regatta.
The St Ayles skiffs were joined by a Cornish Pilot Gig from Falmouth Gig Club, who had been persuaded by a member who had been at the Worlds last year that Ullapool really was a place they should visit! The Gigglers, as well as demolishing the field in their gig “Energy” with its 12 feet of extra water line length and slightly piratical St Piran’s flag, gamely took to the water in the borrowed Ullapool High School skiff Cul Mor, and placed very respectably in their races. A real pleasure to meet fellow rowers from a different discipline.
Sea conditions were very flat throughout the regatta so times were fast and races were generally very close and hard fought. Places were shared around a wide variety of clubs which is always pleasing to see. The Friday was a stunning day with clear blues skies and warm sun, what we have become used to when racing at Ullapool. (Note for future… do not assume it will always be like this.) Although a record length of start line was in place with 16 skiffs starting in some races, heats and a final were still required in the 50+ mixed event, which was won by Anstruther, followed across the line in turn by Helmsdale, Loch Broom SC and Crail. Anstruther could not repeat the win in the 50+ ladies however, being just pipped by North Berwick on the line, followed in third by host club Ullapool. Coigach won the 50+ men, with Ullapool taking second and Newburgh third. North Berwick won the 60+ mixed by some distance, ahead of Ullapool in second and Isle of Seil in third place. Unfortunately there were not enough crews to make up a ladies 60 + race. Crail won the mens 60+, with Ullapool getting another second, and Troon taking the bronze medal position.
The Friday night sprints were very close with less than a second seperating the top 3 crews. At the time of writing we do not have the times to hand but can report that Helmsdale were the winners.
The forecast for Sunday was for rain, but in the end conditions were pretty reasonable with only the odd light shower passing through. The sea remained flat and the competition remained keen. First race of the day was the 40+ Men. North Berwick in a middle lane just managed to stay ahead of Anstruther on the far side of the course, who had gained an advantage with a tremendous turn. Crail held off three crews on the inside lanes to take third place. Forty plus ladies was won by Anstruther, in a very fast time, ahead of Crail and Ullapool. North Berwick had to retire from the 40+ mixed when they broke a thole pin on the start. The race was taken by Crail, with Falmouth recording their best result of the day with a second, and Helmsdale coming in third. The under 17 mixed was run during the same race, with both the junior crews being reasonably placed in the adult field. Coigach won the U17 crown ahead of a crew made up from North Berwick, Royal West and Ullapool, rowing in Isle of Mull’s boat.
An experienced Coigach crew won the open Men’s event, with their under 19 crew also placing well in the same event. North Berwick came in second, and Bunillidh (Helmsdale) came third. Anstruther won the Women’s Open followed by Crail and North Berwick. North Berwick were racing in Lily-Rose, very kindly lent to them by Coigach while repairs were carried out to Skiff John B’s broken pin. It was not a surprise to find that Ullapool Hardware store sells spare thole pins, although they do describe them as “Kitchen Roll Holders” for some reason. Anstruther also won the mixed open ahead of Newburgh and Bunillidh (Helmsdale).
Ullapool managed to enter every event and place well in most, so although they did not have any individual victories they won the overall points competition. The Falmouth Rowing Club were awarded the trophy for furthest travelled club. There was an award for the best performance in the points competition by a New Club (as defined in the SCRA rules of racing as a club which is in its first or second calendar year of putting crews forward for racing.) This year the prize was earned by Isle of Mull Coastal Rowing Club and their skiff Eala Bhan. The skiff is very well used on the Island, with a big demand from all round to get out on the water in her. This is a club to watch for the future!
Thanks to Chris Perkins for these photos, more of which can be viewed on the SCRA Flickr page. Please do add any good photos that others may want to see to that collection! See also the great photos on Steven Gourlay Photographer’s Facebook Page, including aerial shots.
Thanks once again to Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club, and their supporters from Loch Broom Sailing Club, for a fantastic weekend of skiff racing and friendship.
Your correspondent is just back from a fantastic weekend in Ullapool. A report will follow, but in the meantime here are three photos of the racing from Ian Mills. Many, many more photos from Chris Perkins on the Scottish Coastal Rowing Flickr group. Results can be found on the Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club Website.
As many will be aware Galgael were working with members of the SCRA to see if an event in Glasgow city centre could be put on during the Commonwealth Games and to coincide with the Commonwealth Flotilla. Unfortunately restrictions on parts of the River which could be made available for the use of rowing boats and the lack of changeover facilities mean that the event cannot be run. We are happy to look again at running an event in Glasgow City Centre as a stand alone event in the future if the support is there for such an event from rowers and from the relevant authorities. …
In the meantime, anyone who is keen to take part in a flotilla event shared with many other vessels should think about the Flotilla on the Forth. This event is to be held on Sunday 7th September, the day after the Queensferry Rowing Regatta, so many St Ayles skiffs will be in the area. It forms part of the Forth Bridge Festival, celebrating 50 years of the Forth (Road) Bridge. Space are limited, so please register for that one ASAP.
Also, for those keen to see a bit of Commonwealth Games action, Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club are going to be providing a guard of honour for the Commonwealth Games baton relay as it passes across the Isle of Cumbrae. This takes place on Tuesday 15th July at around 10 30 so crews will need to be on the water before then. In addition to the Cumbrae and Firth of Clyde skiffs there will be some other Clyde based boats there, and all skiffs are welcome to join in. Once the baton has left Millport some form of entertainment will be devised, possibly an expedition to the neighbouring island of Wee Cumbrae. Contact the club through their facebook page for more information
Troon,Carrick,Firth of Clyde and Royal West welcomed the new Irvine skiff to the water on Saturday. Troon had made the voyage down to their new neighbours by sea.
The new skiff is named The Vennel after a competition involving local primary schools saw Max Adam from Primary 4 at The Glebe Primary School win the competition. The colours of the boat were designed and picked by Brooke Martin also of Primary 4.
The skiff was built by trainees at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Boat Building School. The Scottish Boat Building School at the Scottish Maritime Museum was formed earlier this year with the aim of providing learning opportunities to young people from the local area.rience. Martin Hughes, boat building academy manager – “ We are immensely proud of our trainees who have done a fantastic job in bringing the boat to life, they’ve worked very hard and it’s been brilliant to see their skills and confidence developing.”
The newly formed Irvine Coastal Rowing club are the proud new owners of the boat and are currently looking for members to become involved in this healthy growing sport. They have access to a sheltered tidal river and basin, as well as the the open sea. Contact Andy Jones to get involved: 07527 670087 or andyjones2208 – ‘at’ – hotmail.com
Thank you to Harry Risk from Troon for sending in these photos. Also, see the report in the Irvine Times.