Hobart – Racing Starts

The Skiff Action in Tasmania kicked off in Hobart on Sunday with Sprints alongside Princes Wharf, one of the main exhibition areas of the Australian Wooden Boat Show.



Using the Tasmanian and New Zealand skiffs, scores of crews raced a 250m time trial down the dockside, attracting huge interest from the festival crowd.

Many of the crews had not rowed together before – or perhaps even rowed at all before, so unsurprsingly, the event was dominated by the Huon River crews.

St Ayles Skiffs have been one of the big deals of the festival. Franklin’s second skiff – almost complete – has attracted huge interest in its excellent position where two parts of the festival displays are joined.

Straydog Boat Works are the Australian agents for the St Ayles, and on the stand we have been talking to people from all over Australia who want to get involved in the movement. Of particular interest is the Port of Freemantle in Western Australia and Royal Geelong Yacht Club near Melbourne.

On Monday, the skiffs will be racing at the Hobart Regatta. The action then takes a bit of a break and restarts on Thursday evening with the opening of the first Southern Hemisphere International Regatta.

More to come later in the week!

Alec Jordan

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Getting in Shape

Besides friendly racing and weekend rowing , there’s plenty going on around the coast, preparing for the 2015 regatta season. Some of you are skiff turning, many of you are carrying out essential skiff maintenance, and oar, tarpaulin and trailer advice are all being shared between clubs just now.

Launched in 2012, Troon’s second skiff ‘Ailsa Lass’ has recently undergone refurbishment and is looking ‘affa bonny’, as is Isle of Mull’s second skiff, recently turned. Well done to you both!

november 27 013

Ailsa Lass, recently refurbushed

Isle of Mull skiff no. 2

Turning Skiff No. 2 in Mull

Isle of Mull skiff turned

In addition to clubs everywhere currently power washing, sanding, painting, oar breaking and consequently oar making, rumour has it that it’s not just the skiffs getting in shape but skiffies too, with fitness bootcamps and high intensity interval training being introduced to build core strength for the coming season. Maintaining fitness and sharing a fitness plan with your crew sustains motivation and well being, and further builds the trust required for great teamwork.

Looks like everyone’s getting ready to row, together.

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Montrose “Meet the Boat” on 7 February

If you live in or around Montrose, now is the time to become involved in the towns campaign to build a St Ayles Skiff. Their near neigbours from along the coast at Catterline are bringing their skiff “Spirit of Catterline” along to Montrose Farmers Market, this Saturday 7 February.  Here is a chance to admire the boat and speak to some who have built and rowed a skiff already. Visitors to the market can also chat to Montrose Coastal Rowing Club committee members about how to get involved in the project or simply offer  support and encouragement!

As part of the club’s funding drive supporters can buy one of the 36 planks that will make up the skiff. Each one is £30 minimum donation and you will get a lovely certificate (see below).   Once the boat is built it is hoped to make a limited edition artwork at the end, recording those who have bought planks.  Find out how to buy your plank here:  http://montrosecoastalrowing.weebly.com/fundraising.html


One of the things the club really needs is a shed to build the skiff in.  Please get in touch with the club if you or someone you know has a suitable shed for this purpose. More information on the club facebook page and website.

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Regattas and Gender Equality

Regatta Organisers are starting to refine their plans for the 2015 season, so this is just a wee timely reminder about equality of opportunity.  We are lucky to have a sport that is enjoyed fairly equally, in reasonably equal numbers by men and women.  To continue this and to reflect this reality, regatta organisers should always try to ensure that any race category for one gender at their regatta is offered for the other gender too.  If this causes difficulties, consideration should be given to either going out hard to recruit more rowers in the missing category, or offering a mixed category instead of single gender ones.

If a fantastic prize is offered for fastest mens crew, a prize of equal status should be offered for fastest female crew (and vice versa). This just makes sense, and shows that the efforts of female rowers are valued just as much as those of male rowers. Remember, while on the subject of gender, that the gender of the coxswain is irrelevant to racing categories.

In our community sport, unlike at the Olympics, there will be no gender testing.  In a little publicised decision by the SCRA committee in advance of the 2013 Worlds, it was determined that in the rules “gender” means the gender that the rower genuinely lives as in their community, rather than gender at birth.  As with many other things in our sport, we have to trust club captains in this, and it applies only to the gender the rower actually lives as, not to folk who may like to dress up from time to time in the style of the other gender.   Please ensure that this trust is not abused.

Our regatta calendar is looking a bit light for May and June.  Please can clubs make sure they are putting on events for other clubs to enjoy.  We remain a rapidly growing sport in terms of numbers of clubs and participants, and we need to make sure that there are enough events for all these new rowers to enjoy and gain experience of racing.


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Avoch January Gathering

Avoch Gathering


It may be the middle of winter, but some clubs are still managing to get together for a spot of socialising and racing.  This it was the case in the inner Moray Firth, at the village of Avoch this weekend. The Avoch Skiffties were joined by rowers from Arderseair, Burghead, Ullapool, Channonry and Gairloch.  Warm soup and warm friendship, flat seas (how do they do that) and enthusiastic racing (no results available at the time of this report).  A similar gathering is going to be held in Ullapool on 1 March.

Just how determine skiffies are to get together can be judged from the photo below of “Ulla” on the road for the event. Rather a different story from the Australian skiffs making their way to Hobart for the Australian Wooden Boat festival (bottom picture, which also features a Wemmys skiff on top!)


Ulla Snow


triple decker

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What did we do before youtube?

We would have had to wrack our brains to try to remember rowing in flat seas without 10 layers of clothing.  But now with a bit of a search you can find this:


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Tass Skiffie 2015 Update


The start of the Tasmanian St.Ayles Skiff Regatta (13th  – 15th February) gets closer every day and the race is on to have everything in place for this significant event. The Living Boat Trust in Franklin has issued guidelines regarding crew rules and registration, and ask that crews register by 1st February at the very latest. Organisers are currently recruiting volunteers to help with the usual regatta tasks of setting up and packing away, registration of crews, marshalling etc. If you can help or have contacts closer to the venue who are interested in contributing some time, please get in touch as soon as possible to facilitate organisation of support. An online form is available on the Living Boat Trust website, or alternatively you can register your interest by emailing both

  • Barbara Dawson  barbara.dawson@bigpond.com;
  • Ronda Longuet  luckedevils2@hotmail.com.

Tass Skiffie Poster

The Living Boat Trust are a non-profit community organisation active in maintaining traditional boat building, rowing and sailing skills, and promoting the St.Ayles Skiff on the beautiful Huon River. Since 2005, they have also organised the Tawe Nunnugah (28th January – 6th February), a two-yearly 100 nm raid of small boats rowing and sailing from Recherche Bay to Hobart,  arriving at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival commencing 6th – 9th February. This year, ‘The Homecoming’ will then see a mini-raid return from Conningham (South of Hobart) to Franklin to join the St. Ayles Skiff regatta at Port Huon on Thursday 12th February and proceed to Franklin to the first ever Southern hemisphere championships, organised by Women on the Water (WOW).

Following on the sale of the 200th St.Ayles Skiff kit, the Living Boat Trust are delighted to have none other than Alec Jordan open Tass Skiffie 2015,  the culmination of two weeks of boaty bliss down under and an adventure that started in a land far away and not too long ago. Look how far we’ve come.


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Inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker

Following the continued growth of the County Down St. Ayles Fleet, Dundrum were delighted to host the inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker event on the 27th of December, which saw the skiffs racing in Dundrum Bay. The intitial challenge saw teams from the communities of Dundrum, Killyleagh, Donaghadee, Portaferry and Strangford overcome the reality of  post-festive indulgence skiff racing, and then compete to be declared winners of the ‘Frozen Rollocks’ Trophy 2014.

As with all great skiff regattas, the close racing was complemented by skiffie banter and declared a grand day out, with hosts Dundrum rowing ‘Danny Buoy’ to victory.

Dundrum Icebreaker 2014

Skart @Dundrum Icebreaker

Dundrum Icebreaker results

Thanks to Michael Armstrong and Stephen Armstrong for images used. For more pics from the day, see Down Coastal Rowing and Dundrum Coastal Rowing Facebook pages.

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Eskmuthe Building their Club and a Skiff

While some are watching Silent Witness, warming themselves by the fire or bashing the treadmill, Eskmuthe rowers are having a fine old time building a second skiff for their East Lothian based club.  For the second time they are using space at the Prestongrange Mining Museum, between Wallyford and Prestonpans.

Although this is the club’s second boat, it is actually the first build for all those involved. The club’s  first boat was built by a group of locals who decided to move on to other projects, rather than stay involved in the rowing.  The new builders have help from one of the sailors at Fisherrow Yacht Club who teaches woodwork, but other than that valuable resourse it has really been complete beginners in the woodwork field that have been building.  Their club sercratary tells us:  “It has been great fun and has really cemented our club. “
The build is progressing wonderfully, and everyone seems to be enjoying it.  You can follow progresson their excellent, regularly updated blog….  a useful resource for anyone out there about to start building a skiff.  Eskmuthe are happy to hear from and encourage others in the process:  eskmuthe”at”gmail.com

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Cold winds blow, it’s time to row

It’s cold. A bit grey. Suffering a little from turkey bloat. But skiffies everywhere are enjoying new year rowing, and that feeling of well being that only a happy crew and community built skiff can bring.

Skiffies in Broughty Ferry, Anstruther and North Berwick rather enjoyed watching the traditional New Year’s Day Loony Dook from the relative comfort of their skiffs.

Broughty ferry Loony Dook

Broughty Ferry Loony Dook

north berwick Loony Dook

North Berwick Loony Dook

And it seems there could be no better place to be on the 3rd January than north in Helmsdale, as conditions looked perfect for a post-festive row in the Moray Firth.

Bunilidh New Year 2

Bunilidh New Year

Troon CRC and Carrick rendezvoused  in Maidens on January 4th, enjoyed mince pies and shortbread, and then hastily rowed it off in testing conditions, which brought back memories of last year’s Exciseman’s Chase. Amidst crew changes and banter, a great day out was had by all, despite the cold, and unfortunate bare legs of some.



At the same time, across the Irish Sea, Dundrum were enjoying a relaxed day’s rowing in ‘Danny Buoy’, following their success in claiming ‘The Frozen Rollocks’ trophy at the inaugural Dundrum Icebreaker just a few weeks ago.

Dundrum 12 Arches

The Twelve Arches on the Carrigs River

Embrace winter rowing – follow the lead of hardy skiffies everywhere and aspire to see more of this -

Portobello Hogmanay Sunrise

Portobello Hogmanay Sunrise – Ali Grant

– in 2015. Wrap up, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Go on, beat the bloat in a boat.


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