Racing in Newcastle’s Urban Coast

Quite possibly the wettest racing of the weekend took place in Newcastle.  The Amble Boat was not launched until the next day (see separate post), so it was the entire Northumbrian fleet of Blythe, Byker and Gosforth who lined up for a series of races through Newcastle City centre as part of the maritime festival.




tyne race

Three races took place.  Mens and Womens open races were followed by a mixed Novice Race.  Gosforth took line honours in each of the races, but the less experience rowers of the other clubs still put up a great fight, and enjoyed their day in the rain.  There are good reports and plenty of photos on the Gosforth Community Rowing Website and  the Blyth Community Rowing Club facebook page, from which these photos are taken.

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Going Wild in Inverness

Ardersier, Avoch and Burghead rowing clubs took part in “Go Wild on the Canal” , a promotional day for outdoor activities held on Saturday on the Caledonian Canal at Muirtown Basin.




Esther and Zulu had an informal race, with the Ardersier skiff winning, although we have seen it suggested that a coxing decision to make their 180 degree turn a bit early “on safety grounds” may have been a factor in the victory.    This was Zulu’s first race, and the Avoch team are happy to concede that Ardersier “technically won it”.   Good banter from all and the simmerings of a long and happy cross firth rivalry.  New Dawn, a boat built in traditional technique, was also in the basin being rowed and sailed. Many will recognise her from Portsoy.  More photos have been uploaded to the SCR Flickr page by Chris Perkins.

new dawn



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Largs Regatta 2014

It was a magnificent day in Largs for Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club’s first regatta on Saturday 23rd August 2014.  The event, held as part of the 25th anniversary of  Largs Regatta Week, took place at Largs Yacht Haven.  St Ayles skiffs from Carrick, Irvine, Troon and Royal West came along to take part in a mixture of long races and sprints throughout the day.
With a light breeze in the morning, the conditions were perfect for the long races from Largs Yacht Haven to Cairney’s Quay where crew changes took place on the beach.  Royal West were clear winners in both races.
The wind picked up in the afternoon for the sprints in front of the marina, providing slightly more challenging conditions for the rowers.   The races were close with Carrick winning the first sprint and Royal West taking first place in the second sprint.  Royal West were awarded the prize for overall winners of the day.  full results are on FOCCR facebook page.
royal pencil


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North Berwick Provides More Challenging Racing

yes, that rock

Traditionally North Berwick regatta provides a real challenge, with crews enjoying the voyage round Craigleith which is the tough racecourse that these east coasters provide for their visitors.  The 2014 regatta was no exception, and was one of the biggest regattas of the year, with 15 skiffs altogether.  St Andrews, Eskmouthe and Isle of Islay all attended the regatta for the first time.  Old handers Portobello and Coigach each brought two skiffs, to join the two entered by the hosts,  to field the maximum number of their members.  The Fife contingent was completed with skiffs from Crail, Anstruther and Newburgh.  Other Lothian clubs in attendance were Queensferry, Boatie Blest (Port Seton and Cockenzie) and Dunbar.  Most of the race starts were split into two waves, five minutes apart, with the winner being determined on time.  This allowed for fair and safe racing from the open start line.

The racing started with a real bang in the Men’s 40+ category.  The hosts were training hard in the lead up to the event, and were expecting strong challenges from Portobello, Crail and Port Seton.  As it was though it was old rivals Coigach who took the honours, beating the hosts into second place by 2 seconds over the two mile course.  Their time of 17.56 remained the fastest of the day.


Ladies 40+ was won by Crail, ahead of Portobello and Anstruther Crews.  Crail’s Mens 50 + crew however were beaten into second place  by Coigach taking their second victory of the day.  Not for the first time the Anstruther 50 + women crew proved too strong for all their opponents, romping home 30 seconds ahead of Portobello with the two North Berwick crews in third and fourth.

Eleven crews contested the mixed Novice category, and it is always great to see a healthy entry of newer rowers.  Queensferry squeezed out North Berwick to take a bronze, with Portobello in second place and the honours being taken by Crail.

Mixed under 19 was determined on a handicap basis to allow the youngsters of Newburgh to race despite not having any female crew members.  The Davidson handicap system, which has been successfully applied in several internal NBRC competitions was used, and determined a win for North Berwick, with Newburgh in second on adjusted time and Boatie Blest third.  The Mixed 60+ was run at the same time, and was won by Portobello, who led home North Berwick, Crail, St Andrews and Queensferry.

In the Men’s Open the visitors from Islay unfortunately  broke an oar.  Having made the effort to get to the regatta, they were not going to let their place slip away, and put two rowers onto the three man’s oar.   The stroke and cox must have been working hard (see photo bleow), as the crew still secured a bronze medal.  The category was won by North Berwick with Boatie Blest taking the silver.



NB Open


The final event of the day was Women’s open with a young North Berwick crew relying on their fitness to take a very narrow victory over Portobello by just one second, and Crail coming in seven seconds further back.

So a sharing round of wins amongst five of the 12 clubs, with silvers and bronzes going to others, and everybody enjoying the challenge and the apres skiff.  Full results have now been published by North Berwick and the North Berwick Rowing Club Flickr page has many great shots of the participating crews.


Stonehaven Hosts First Rowing Regatta


There was close racing to be had at Stonehaven’s first regatta.  Skiffs from Catterline, Collieston, Portsoy and Pittenweem attended as part of a wider harbour festival.  The event was a real showcase, and it is hoped that Stonehaven will be galvanised into building a community skiff.  There were also some queries from folk from Aberdeen and Montrose.

Club racing included men’s, women’s, mixed and mixed 40+ , as well as a time for social rowing and a chance for confident passers by to have a go.   The day finished with a scratch race, with one rower from each club in each boat.

The overall winners were Collieston, with Pittenweem just clinching second ahead of Catterline, then Portsoy.   Our contact at the event described it as “An incredibly fun and social outing, with the harbour festival providing a great atmosphere.”


Full results will be added later in the week.  In the meantime some video of a close finish can be seen below, followed by a photo of beautiful turned wood prizes:








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Avoch have launched skiff number 72, and have called her Zulu.  The name is in honour of the big herring drifters with heavily raked sterns that used to ply the waters around the Moray Firth.  Avoch’s coastal rowers, the Skiffties, are looking forward to making use of Zulu on the local  waters, and indeed joining in with events around the coast.



Ardersier and Gairloch skiffies joined the celebrations with their skiffs Esther and Longa, and took novices from around Avoch out for a try.    As it turned out there was also a visitor who was able to speak in the Zulu language, and gave the boat a traditional Zulu blessing.  It was a very memorable and emotional day for the Skiffties and Avoch in general.  The day finished with a BBQ, traditional music by Feis Rois and a party in the boat shed which went on until the wee small hours.  What a day! 





See the post  below for brief details of forthcoming launches at Amble, the Netherlands, Broughty Ferry, Wormit and Barra.  Information about the Avoch Skiffties and how to get involved can be found on their facebook page and website.

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Skiffs Everywhere on 23 and 24 August 2014

Those who are interested in seeing St Ayles skiffs in action are spoiled for choice on the weekend of 23 and 24 August.  Events featuring the boats will be taking place at North Berwick, Stonehaven, Largs, Inverness, Newcastle and Amble.

Mens 40 + Race North Berwick 2013

Mens 40 + Race North Berwick 2013 (Photo: S Thompson)

One of the biggest gatherings of the year will take place at North Berwick on the Firth of Forth on Saturday 23 August.  This is always a challenge as well as a regatta, with crews setting out on a racing voyage of 2 miles from the harbour around the off lying Craigleith Island and back to the harbour.  Race positions can vary as the conditions facing the racing crews vary depending on the way the wind and tide are striking the island.  Every crew that completes the course knows they have achived something special.  There are due to be 15 skiffs present, with the hosts and Portobello supplying 2 crews for many of the 8 categories, and visiting skiffs also coming from as far afield as Isle of Islay, Coigach, Newburgh, Anstruther, Crail and St Andrews.  Shorter journeys will be made by Queensferry, Eskmouthe, Boatie Blest, and Dunbar.  Best viewing of the racing is from Platcock Rocks.  Teas, coffees and chat available on the Hope Rooms and the beach on the West Bay, where crews change over.

North East crews are having a get together at Stonehaven Harbour on Sunday 24 August as part of the Stonehaven Harbour Festival.  Collieston, Portsoy, Catterline and Pittenweem will be racing it out, and hopefully those from the host town will be inspired to put together a community project to build a skiff of their own.

Stenehaven Harbour Festival

Meanwhile in Northumberland the English Bank Holiday is being marked with a gathering of old gaffers on the River Tyne in Newcastle City Centre. Grace of Gosforth and Crofton, Blythe’s skiff, will be there and their  crews will no doubt be delighted to tell others of the enjoyment to be had from building and rowing community skiffs.  On the Sunday the action moves to Amble, where the existing skiffs will want to welcome Amble’s new skiff to the water on her launch date, which takes place during the Lifeboat Day.

Largs is hosting its first rowing regatta on 23 August, organised by Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club.  Local skiffs from the Clyde will be in attendance, including Saltire and skiffs from Royal West and Troon.  The action is taking place from Largs Marina, with sprints as well as a couple of long distance races.

Finally skiffies from Burghead, Ardersier and Avoch will be taking part in “Go Wild on the Canal” .  This is a come and try session for a variety of activities, held at the Muirtown Basin on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness on 23 August.  The fun starts at 10am.

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Skiffs on TV in Ulster

Click here to see a clip of the news item on Ulster TV looking at the community building of St Ayles skiffs around Strangford Lough.

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Six More St Ayles Skiffs to Join the Fleet

The St Ayles skiff phenomena continues unabated.  So far THIS YEAR 18 skiffs have been launched in the UK, and in the next couple of weeks we can expect a few more to hit the water.

First up Avoch (in the Black Isle) will be officially naming their recently completed Skiff “Zulu” on Saturday 16 August.  Meet the new boat at the Harbour at 3pm, from where she will process through the village behind the pipe band, before launching at the industrial estate slipway.  All being well there will be a have a go session from around 4pm.   And of course there is a party!  In the shed.  All skiffies will be made very welcome by the skiffties.


Stand Back and Admire in Amble

Stand Back and Admire in Amble

Next up Amble (in Northumberland) are very keen to get their skiff launched at their local lifeboat day on 24 August 2014.  At the moment the boat is well ahead, but still plenty of painter work to be done.

The Broughty Ferry skiff is due to be launched on Sunday 31 August.  She will be the third skiff on the Tay, joining the two already in use at Newburgh…..  but more will be coming!  Broughty Boating hope to have a few local boats join them for the launch that is  scheduled for  3pm. Anyone interested is welcome to come along to the Broughty Boathouse next to the Royal Tay Yacht Club, Broughty Ferry. And, talking of more coming, Wormit Boat Club are hoping to launch their skiff on the south side of the Tay on 21 September…  more details to follow in due course.

Meanwhile in the Western Isles, the community group Croitear Òg St Ayles Skiff are planning to launch Barra‘s first St Ayles skiff on 6 September.  Keep in touch with news leading up to the launch on their facebook page.

Over in the Netherlands  WSV Woudrichem are progressing steadily towards completion of their second skiff. Their launch date is set for 19 September in time for the Great River Race where she has been entered.  Woudrichem will compete in London with 3 St Ayles Skiffs including the Dwarsbongel (NL02), which has been on loan to the club over the past few months. All visiting skiffies are welcome at the launch.

Woudrichem Admiring NL03

Woudrichem Admiring NL03

These are the ones we know about….  if you know of others, please let us know:




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Firth of Clyde Regatta at Largs on 23 August 2014

Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club are organising their first regatta at Largs Marina on 23 August.  This is another event on the Clyde/ South West circuit, following the recent success of the Sail and Oar Festival on Cumbrae.  The event is on at the same time as the highly successful and testing regatta at North Berwick and a small event for some North East boats at Stonehaven.

For the Largs event most of the races will be on a 200m sprint course along the harbour wall, although there will be a long distance there and back race to the Cumbrae water sports centre on Cumbrae, with a crew change at the centre.

Cox’s Briefing  10 am.  Race Start 10.30- 11am

Camping is available  on beach /grass next to marina .  There is a £10 entry fee per boat which will include entry to the evening Ceilidh in the main marquee with live music provided by Ra Gaels.  Please contact Martin Hughes to let him know how many skiffs you are bringing:  martinh221<at> 


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