On Saturday 30 May, St Ayles skiffs from Coigach, Dundrum, Portaferry, Strangford, Ullapool, North Berwick and Blakeney took part in the Ocean to City (An Rás Mór) long distance race in the stunning location of Cork, in the far south of Ireland. There were over 100 coastal rowing boats taking part in proceedings, joined by a large number of Kayaks, and the St Ayles brought home more than their fair share of the Trophies. This equalled (for the time being) the largest gathering of St Ayles skiffs in one place outwith the United Kingdom.
The main event on the day is a race which goes out of the shelter of the large natural harbour, to sniff the sea air of the Atlantic Ocean, before turning and racing all the way up to Cork city centre, a total distance of 28km. For all but Blakeney, this was their first experience of the big race. With eight boats present the St Ayles were one of the biggest classes, and all eight boats took part in a single start on the tight reach off Crosshaven.
Full race results are still awaited, but we can report that a crew from Coigach brought home the Trophy for fastest St Ayles. They were followed in Second Place by a crew from North Berwick, who were also runners up in the overall competition for mixed crews, decided on handicap across all the rowing fleet. Coigach (mistakenly relocated to Wales on the prize list) also took home the trophy for fastest wooden boat. The St Ayles trophy haul was completed when Jeremy Duffin was recognised as boat builder of the day, for his work on the stunning Strangford Coastal Rowing Club boat Strangfjǫrðr.
North Berwick also entered the shorter and more sheltered “City Course”over 22km from Crosshaven to Cobh and on to Cork City Centre in ‘Speedwell’, a coxed double scull Teifi Skiff owned by a syndicate of NBRC members. Speedwell took overall line honours for the City Course, with her crew also picking up the award for the veteran category.