The newest St Ayles skiff was launched by the Duchess of Northumberland at Alnmouth on Saturday. The beautiful wee village has the calm waters of the Aln eastury on one side, and the less calm waters of the North Sea on the other side. Pride of Aln went the wavy route, having crossed the beach from a rather splendid boathouse.
Pride of Aln is the fifth skiff in Northumberland, joining Grace (Gosforth), Byker Belle (Byker), Coquet Spirit (Amble) and Crofton (Blyth) Many rowers from these other clubs joined the crowd at the launch. The clubs are working together to organise events for skiffies in the North East of England. Follow what they are up to on the North East Skiff Association Facebook Page.
What better way for skiffie folk to celebrate St.Andrew’s Day than a trip to Fortrose for an auspicious skiff launch?
Chanonry Sailing Club on the Black Isle have been busy for the past ten months with their first skiff build and have already completed successful sea trials at the end of October. Now all that remains is to officially launch ‘Chanonry Maid’ into the waters of the Moray Firth on Sunday 30th November, at 12 pm, to be welcomed by skiffie neighbours ‘Zulu’ (Avoch)and ‘Esther’ (Ardesier).
Everyone is welcome and taster sessions up for grabs – go, row, and let us know.
In an incredible show of community building, a combined initiative developed by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP, Northern Ireland), PSNI and Down Coastal Rowing Club, saw Northern Ireland’s boat-building efforts of 2014 come to fruition at their inaugural event The Narrows Challenges on Strangford Lough on 5th October. Since September, the County Down region has launched six community built skiffs, and these six competed in the local event on the largest sea loch in the British Isles. Strangford Lough covers approximately 150 km2 and is almost completely land-locked, opening to the Irish Sea through a long tidal channel, known as The Narrows.
The Narrows provided challenging conditions on the day and the intended course from Portaferry to Strangford was amended to confine racing to Castle Ward Bay. The main challenge saw close racing between Killyleagh skiff ‘Skart’ (local word for ‘cormorant’) and Strangford’s ‘Strangfjorthr’ with ‘Skart’ edging ahead to be first across the finish line and achieving the honour of first club to have their names recorded forever more on the The Narrows Challenges trophy. Kirkcubbin’s Black Neb Vixen secured third place in the main event whilst Best Performing Community went to Dundrum’s Danny Buoy’ who accumulated most points in the Sprint Challenge.
The Narrows Challenge is expected to become an annual event in the International calendar.
On the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the old whaling station community of Kaikoura is best known as a summer destination with whale, dolphin, seal and albatross watching, and since 26th October, St.Ayles Skiff watching too!
‘Kaikoura Lass’ was launched on a glorious day, with a wee gathering at Fyffe House, the original home of the first shore whaler Robert Fyffe. As the first crew pushed off from shore, they were applauded by fellow builders, friends and well-wishers, and builder/oarsman David Barrett comments it was a ‘great feeling to be part of the St.Ayles skiff movement and to be part of the enthusiasm generated from it’.
Kaikoura’s skiff was built by the small town’s Menzshed – Menzshed New Zealand is a national organisation that promotes healthy living for older, retired men, but as David explains, this didn’t quite fit the project needs for Kaikoura; the menzshed became a ‘community shed’ and community volunteers of all ages and genders were welcomed to the inclusive build. The group discovered Franklin’s Women on Water on the net, and subsequently with assistance from the SCRA, the wheels were set in motion. By way of community fundraising, Robert Ayliffe of Mad Dog Boats and the NZ Coastal Rowing Group in Auckland, Kaikoura took delivery of their kit in December 2013, and as the skiff progressed, membership built as well, and visitors from all over New Zealand, Australia, USA and Avoch were welcomed.
The group are in regular contact with NZ Coastal Rowing in New Zealand and it is the long term plan to meet and compete. In the meantime, ‘Kaikoura Lass’ is available to view at Fyffe House which is part of the NZ maritime Heritage Trail. The open water conditions in beautiful Kaikoura are often challenging, and she will be towed to suitable locations to be admired, rowed and raise awareness of the St.Ayles skiff class – with over 550 miles between Auckland and Kaikoura, it is hopefully only a matter of time before ‘Kaikoura Lass’ has some nearer skiffie neighbours!
Richard Budd, Graphic Designer and North Berwick Rowing Club member, kindly developed the SCRA logo for us.
Richard has produced a poster celebrating all the UK St Ayles skiffs launched since the Chris ‘Kannaird (skiff number 00) took to the water and launched the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project back in October 2009. Posters are big: 36″ x 24″. Clicking on the picture should take you through to the website from which they can be purchased (for £23.95) , but if that does not work try clicking here. Just the thing if a skiffie in your life is looking for a present. A smaller version is available here.
It is just astonishing to see so many of these skiffs built in the 5 years since the project started. Each one is a successful community project, and brings its builders, rowers, and community great pride. Well done to everyone who has been involved in bringing each of these boats to the water. Richard is working on an international poster too… details to follow.
Down under in Tasmania, ‘Taroona’ is the aboriginal word for the marine mollusc ‘chiton’, and fittingly, Taroona’s first skiff, launched 10km south of Hobart on 8th of November, has been named ‘Chiton’.
The project started on 5th August 2013 and shortly after, the group took delivery of the St. Ayles kit from Stray Dog Boat Works in South Australia. With advice and support from Franklin’s Women on Water, ‘Chiton’ has been patiently crafted by over thirty community builders in Taroona High School’s bus shelter!
In fresh conditions, Neptune (suited up) emerged from the sea at Melinga shore to address the gathered crowd and bless the Chiton, before she was launched officially by the Mayor of Taroona. Stories were recounted and the many hours that brought the build team, led by Damian Devlin, to the successful launch, relived.
The Taroona Coastal Rowing Pilot Project was suppported by a community development grant from Kingborough Council, and donations of cash, timber and cake from Taroona’s generous community. She joins Tasmania’s ever growing fleet of St.Ayles skiffs, total number now three, along with ‘Imagine’ and ‘Cygnet'; however the Living Boat Trust/ Bendigo Bank skiff build in Franklin has completed 29 full days of crafting and the skiff is almost ready for turning over, which will no doubt encourage the Spring Bay Community Boatshed builders – next to get a skiff build under way?
Come and have a go at skiff rowing. Others who are already involved will be there to share their enthusiasm. This was true this weekend past in two very different parts of the rowing world.
An Eathar on the Island of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides to the North West edge of Scotland was one example. SCR coach Ali Grant who was joined by Row Porty club mate Nick Savage and a boat and crew from Stornoway to help the local club to learn the basics of rowing and boat building. The club now have a St Ayles skiff kit, with the frame going together nicely for a winter build. Nick took time to explain to the Shawbost school children how to turn a few sheets of pre-cut ply into a beautiful rowing skiff. Enjoy their day in the video below.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world…..as mentioned in an earlier post, the community of The Warrnambool St Ayles Skiff Community Rowing Club in Victoria, Australia, held a wooden boat expo over the weekend, and they were delighted to be joined by two St Ayles skiffs from elsewhere in Australia. Robert Ayliffe brought skiff “John Liddy” over from Goolwa in South Australia and Jim Barr brought “Cariad” from the Welsh Church in Melbourne. This is the first time that two skiffs from mainland Australia have been launched and rowed side by side. (See seperate post shortly on Tasmania!)
The photo below, and others can be found on the Warrnambool facebook page. The local club already have two skiff kits paid for and ready to build, and the promotion through the wooden boat expo caused a bit of excitement and interest in the project from neighbouring communities, and it is hoped that Portland and Port Fairy will soon have their own skiff kits to build. Perhaps next year the lawn will be crowded with up to eight skiffs!
Local paper “The Standard” carried a report on the weekend.
Franklin’s Women on Water will be hosting a Scottish Fun Day on Saturday 8th November at Port Cygnet Sailing Club, Tasmania, as a fundraiser in the run up to their St.Ayles Skiff Championships in February 2015. Saturday’s event will celebrate Cygnet’s St. Ayles Skiff, and all things Scottish between 3pm and 9pm, with games, food and bagpipes. You may be in the area, or you may have friends and family there who would enjoy a row, followed by Scottish dinner of locally made haggis, black pudding and skirlie. If you go, let us know!
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