On the afternoon of Friday 20th June 2014, the pupils and staff of Islay High School made their way to the harbour in Bowmore for the grand launch of two St. Ayles skiffs built in the school by High School pupils working with Jack Glover, Stephen Harrison and Brandon Freeman and members of the community. The colours of the boats are the same as the Islay High School tie colours. Work began on the boats in August 2013 and students worked on Wednesday and Friday afternoons during core time. A group of students taking part in the personal development award helped paint the boats and also organised the launch events.
The names of the boats are “Ceasnachadh” meaning “inquiry” and “Dàn-thuras” meaning “adventure”, two of the four core values within the school. Dàn-thuras was the first in the water and so will take number 63 in the Skiff Register, with Ceasnachadh being number 64.
The launch was the perfect opportunity for a little healthy rivalry in the form of an inter-house rowing competition between representatives of Bryce, MacBean and Winnard. The competition was not limited to the pupils, with two teacher teams also taking to the waves. While their peers looked on, eating burgers from the BBQ and listening to the music provided by DJ Piper, the rowers took part in time trials in choppy conditions. The eventual winner of the inter-house competition, with a winning time of 4 minutes, 29 seconds, was Bryce, represented by: Aileas Colthart, Dylan Harrold, Andrew Mitchell and Caitlin Stewart, with Brandon Freeman at the tiller. The winning teacher team comprised Miss MacGregor, Mr Park, Mrs Mitchell, Mr Harrison and Miss Siddall, with a winning time of 4 minutes and 13 seconds.
The afternoon event preceded the community launch in the evening, where the rowing club arrived in the other Islay St Ayles skiffs (Bluebell and Lily Bheag) which they rowed from Bruichladdich. The rowing club and members of the community then tried out the new boats, which proved to be very successful. This is indicative of the future of the skiffs, while they will be based near the school for student use they will also be available for community use in conjunction with the Islay Rowing Club.