The first US skiff regatta took place yesterday under brilliant blue skies at Mystic Historic Seaport in Connecticut as part of the WoodenBoat Show. Not only was the sun shining, but this will have been the hottest St Ayles Regatta with the temperature nudging 30°C.
In common with many Scottish regattas, a skiff was launched for the first time the day before the racing, and this was some skiff. She has got a Post of her own, and will probably be reported on in many different media over the next few months.
Perseverance and Resilience from Lake Champlain were the other two skiffs entered, and with this very small entry, the press gangs were sent out to recruit more crews for the Sunday morning racing. A crew from Hewes & Co who cut the kits in the USA were genuine volunteers. The Forman School from Connecticut who were exhibiting their products had their arms gently twisted, and their boatshow neighbours “Rocking the Boat” from the Bronx in New York City received the same treatment.
The result was that we started the regatta this morning with six crews, racing a 600 yard course with the magnificent backdrop of tallship Joseph Conrad, with the start from the 100 year old schooner AL Dunton.
Starting at 10am, we raced a simple knockout, and our pressed crews surprised with their turn of speed and ability on the oars. They have extensive rowing experience, and it says a lot for the crew from Forman school that they made it to the final.
The Hewes crew was planned, but unpractised, consisting of Gardner Pickering, Mike Hewes the owner of the company, myself and my partner Jane, with a cox from Lake Champlain. Much to our surprise, we were within a length of the Champlain boat for the whole of the race – Lake Champlain is a rowing club with long experience of rowing in many different types of boats.
The result was a Regatta win for Lake Champlain, with plaques presented by Hewes & Co.
It was a real pleasure to see the spirit of Scottish Coastal Rowing friendliness finding immediate roots at the Mystic Regatta. A group of complete strangers making friends very quickly and working together to make a huge success of the day.
There was great interest it the skiff racing; we are pretty sure that there will be several more skiffs purchased as a result of the show, and a much better turnout next year.
I could not resist posting a pic of the musical rowing skiff – but what is the tune?