What a great year 2013 has been. There is so much love in these boats, and so much shared experience and friendship.
Our St Ayles fleet has increased considerably. In December 2012 we had 38 Scottish skiffs, 2 in England, and six in the US, giving a total of 46 skiffs in use. We have since then welcomed to UK waters two skiffs from Portsoy, and one each from Blakeney, Fairlie, Isle of Seil, Catterline, Girvan, Kyles, Wick, Eskmuthe, Kilmelford, Ardersier. Coigach launched their second skiff, and Boatie Blest launched their third. The international fleet was boosted by four further launchings in the US and the first(of many!) skiffs in New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Two skiffs are now in use in the Netherlands, meaning that all together 69 completed St Ayles skiffs will be seeing out the old year.
In May the 100th skiff kit was sent to St Andrews Sailing Club. The kit is being assembled on the first floor of the sailing club, and the first launch will be preceded by an entertaining journey which will involve the removal of a window frame and probably a balcony too! Astonishingly having reached 100 skiffs kits within 30 months, it has only taken a further 6 months to get to 150 kits. Our sport is continuing its exponential growth!
The SCRA ran another UKCC level 2 coaching course in April, with hospitality from Royal West of Scotland Boat Club, and assessor and instructor input from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association, for which we remain very grateful. Coaches from Mid-Argyll, Portsoy, Pittenweem, Boatie Blest and Galgael all gained their qualification and gained skills and knowledge to take back to their clubs. The Association also put on a get together for the coaches who have gained their qualifications over the last three years, so that experiences can be shared and quality improved throughout the member clubs.
Social events for the year kicked off with a Ceilidh aboard the Glenlee, a tall ship in Glasgow. This is a venue that we hope to visit again in 2014. We hope everyone will bring their boats this time! Watch this space. Of course the social whirl never really stops, with every regatta and fundraiser bringing folk together.
All our clubs will have organised internal events, social rows and tours, and will have given many people the chance to try the rowing for the first time. However it is the regatta circuit that brings us together, and we enjoyed a record number of events this year. Coigach opened the year in May, and for most the last chance of an open race was at Loch Venacher, in the SCRA Freshwater Sprints. In between skiffs took part in another 22 events in the UK. Seil, Carrick, and Kyles all organised events for the first time, joining established favourites on the circuit. St Ayles skiff clubs also enjoyed racing in the Great River Race, the Great Tyne Row, the Carrick Cup and the Dalriada festival, which are all open to a variety of fixed seat rowing craft.
The highlight of the year for many was of course the Skiffie Worlds at Ullapool. We simply cannot thank Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club, and the others involved in organising the event, enough for bringing the world wide Skiff community together. Messages of appreciation for the event continue to come in from around the world.
So thanks for this year, and here’s to the next! All the best for 2014, skiffie friends.
Scottish Coastal Rowing Association
This year has seen an incredible jump in the number of skiffs around the coast of Scotland, and increasingly, the rest of the UK. Since this all started just over four years ago, no-one has been able to make any accurate predictions as to the growth of our new rowing class. While I had wild dreams when we started that one day there would be these skiffs all around Scotland, I had certainly not anticipated how quickly this would be achieved.
The worldwide interest has continued to grow. The month of May saw the 100th skiff ordered by St Andrews Sailing Club, and in June, ten skiff kits were ordered in New Zealand. At Ullapool in July, I spoke to representatives from several places around the Scottish Coast who were interested in building a skiff for their communities, and for the rest of the month it all went quiet…
August saw orders in Tasmania, and Oregon and Ohio in the USA, but it stayed quiet in the UK, with only one order from Newcastle. Had Ullapool put people off?
Barely into September, Wells Next the Sea in Norfolk decided that they would emulate their neighbours Blakeney with an order for two, and we started filling in the gaps around the coast with orders from Tobermory, Newport on Tay, Burghead and Lochinver. October saw orders from Gourdon in Aberdeenshire, the Moray Firth, Gairloch, and more for Islay.
Even while I was trying to sell the skiffs in the Caribbean in November there were orders coming in from the Moray Firth, and very pleasingly, the Outer Hebrides from the Nicholson Institute in Stornoway and from Grimsay, as well as working further north on the mainland to Kinlochbervie. The Caribbean? Well, there is definitely interest, and we will be following up, with the intention to cut the kits in Barbados and ship to the other islands from there. Watch this space, as they say.
December is usually a quiet time for selling the kits, but I had a call from Poolewe that they had their money together, and their kit was shipped up to the Black Isle with those for Fortrose and Avoch. With thoughts that that would be it until the New Year, I resigned myself to not reaching the 150 mark by the end of the year, even with the welcome news from the USA that a school in the Finger Lakes region of New York state had ordered a kit. Then, as so often happens, out of the blue, a call to say “How soon can you ship a kit?”. Another kit for Islay High School! Surely, that would be it – bringing us to 148.
This morning, just getting into the car to do the last bits of Christmas Shopping, I received a call from an organisation outside Scotland, but still in the UK, that they finally had their funding to purchase EIGHT skiffs, bringing us to a total of 156 skiffs around the world. We canot publish who they are at the moment, but that news will be released in January.
That is where we end 2013, but there are still many places that are planning on building St Ayles skiffs – I am reckoning on another 16 kits being ordered in the first couple of months of 2014, from all around Scotland, and some new areas of England, including Morecambe Bay and Devon, as well as more from Northumberland and Norfolk.
In Australia, there are several more places making plans, and likewise in the USA.
British Rowing are keen to encourage and support the building and rowing of St Ayles Skiffs in England, (if anyone in England reading this wants to know more please contact me). There has been more interest from South Africa and Brazil, and we intend to licence local companies to cut the kits there during 2014.
For everyone who has bought a skiff from me, this year, or in previous years – thank you.
Jordan Boats & CNC
John Gerrard of Boatie Blest has created an end of season poster featuring an image from the Start line of the Skiffie Worlds. Anyone interested in purchasing one of these lovely articles in the old railway poster style can do so online. On the subject of possible Christmas gifts for the skiff lover in your life, we should have mentioned before now the Boatie Blest DVD release of “Row It Like you Stole It”. The video follows a variety of plucky underdogs as they strive for success at the Boatie Blest Regatta. As well as getting the emotion of being in a St Ayles skiff club, some handy tips can surely be picked up on how to run a friendly, welcoming and efficient event. The feature won the Palm d’Oar at the ‘Pans Film Festival, and comes with a souvenir edition of Ahoy! magazine. A copy of the DVD can be yours for a mere £10, by contacting Andrew Doney by e mail. andrew*at*edinburghsportscars.fsnet.co.uk. A preview of the film can be seen on youtube.
CRA Blakeney have issued an invitation to all St Ayles skiff groups to join them on a rowing tour of the North Norfolk Broads in August 2014 and for their regatta at Blakeney on 16 and 17 August 2014
For the tour camping accommodation has been booked at Barton Turf Adventure Centre for anyone wanting to camp in their own tent, or ready equipped tents can be hired. There will also be limited space for caravans and campers. There is plenty of B&B and hotel accommodation available in the area for those not wishing to camp.
A programme of events is planned involving picnics, social events and friendly competition. The tour will explore the rivers Ant, Bure and Thurne and Barton and Hickling Broads. It will be suitable for four oared skiffs, gigs, and sculled boats. Secure overnight mooring will be provided. It may be possible to include non-rowing members of groups, if space allows.
Blakeney Regatta will be held on the subsequent weekend (16-17th August), so it will be possible to complete your visit to Norfolk with racing on Blakeney Harbour. More information about the regatta will be available later. If you, or your club are interested in taking part please contact Adrian Hodge: email@example.com (01362 668847)
Check out the 2014 Calendar for the dates of all UK St Ayles events notified to SCRA to date. In addition to the Tour of Norfolk and Blakeney Regatta, English events listed at the moment are the Great Tyne Row on 20 September 2014 and the Great River Race on 27 September 2014 and Blyth (Northumberland) with a provisional date of 19/20 July 2014. In addition there is a race from Scotland to England and back….. more details on that to follow.
Update: Loch Broom Event Postponed due to weather warnings.
Two events are taking place this weekend involving St Ayles Skiffs.
Somewhere on Loch Broom (exact location may still be dependent upon wind conditions) there will be a winter match between Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club and the Coigach Coastal Rowers. The match will include races over a variety of categories that both clubs are able to produce crews for. Afterwards the two clubs will enjoy mince pies and warm words and indeed other clubs have been invited along to participate. The racing will start at 10.30 on December 14th.
Meanwhile on the same day, some distance to the South, Blakeney will be taking their St Ayles skiff Hoi Larntarn to Norwich to take part in the Carrow Cup. The cup is a processional race on the River Yare in Norwich and this year marks its bi-centenary. Around 120 fine boats will be competing, but there will also be a selection or around 15 fixed seat traditional boats, including Cornish pilot gigs and a Norwegian faering, but this year anyway, only one St Ayles. The traditional boats race on handicap, based on the nature of their boat with a further allowance for female crew members, so that all sorts of boats and crews can compete together. The local amenity society, the Norwich Society, has presented a silver trophy specifically for traditional boats.
Following the extensive review, consultation and voting by the SCRA clubs at the 2013 AGM, the St Ayles Skiff Building and Measurement Rules have now been revised and published. They are available on the Measurement Rules tab, above or by clicking here. All current builders should make sure that they are aware of the rules and make every effort to comply with them. Those considering alterations to their skiffs should also ensure that any such alterations are within the rules, so that other clubs are not embarrassed by having to question innovations. All those already with skiffs should consider whether they comply with the recently agreed measurement rules, and if they have any concerns or difficulties in this regard should contact the SCRA committee through firstname.lastname@example.org .
We will be publishing a further document, on method for measurement and some guidance, shortly.
‘The AGM agreed that measurement rules should be be enforced more vigorously, and that the committee: “should seek to appoint a class measurer or a measurement group to oversee the application and enforcement of the measurement rules and provide assistance to regatta organisers in scrutineering.”
We would love to hear from volunteers who could share their knowledge, experience and understanding of the technical aspects of our boats with other clubs and in particular new builds. Diplomats please do get in touch. It would be very helpful to have individuals who can assist with measurement coming forward, given that this is more about building good skiffs rather than ‘saying No’,
In addition the observant among you will have noticed the Welcome Pack page on the Boat Building tab. We are developing a pack that will be of use to all those who receive a new kit. The purpose of the pack is to help share the knowledge, built up over the years since the first St Ayles skiff was launched, with new boat builders. We want new builders to be able to build a competitive and seaworthy craft, which their community can enjoy rowing in. We hope the welcome pack will help builders achieve this within the new measurement rules.
The St Ayles Skiff has been nominated for an award, which will be decided by an online vote. Classic Boat magazine has nominated the design under category 4 “Spirit of Tradition, less than 40 feet” in the Classic Boat Awards 2014.
If you have ever rowed in a St Ayles skiff, especially on a wild day where the traditional hull form has looked after you, riding over the waves, or if you have just admired these lovely boats from or on the beach, or if you have seen how much enjoyment they have given to people in your community, please consider voting by visiting the voting page on the Classic Boat website. It is an international magazine, so votes are welcome from around the world.
Iain Oughtred has drawn a beautiful and sea worthy boat, and Alec Jordan has done a great job of turning it into a kit that communities can build for themselves. These two, plus of course the boats themselves, deserve a bit of recognition. In less than four years, communities have built and launched 70 of these boats, each one a beautiful and valued community asset. Many more are currently in build, and the design has spread rapidly around the world with communities in Mainland Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand having built and launched St Ayles skiffs.
It only takes a moment, so please vote and pass the word on!
A welcome pack is being developed for new builders, to help them catch up with what we have learned in 4 years of building and using St Ayles skiffs. Part of this will be a paper on building oars, and this has now been uploaded to a sub tab on the boat building tab…. click here if you want a shortcut! This is full of very important information which will improve your rowing experience.
Included on the tab are free plans for four different sets of oars used by skiffies. Help yourselves, with thanks to Alec Jordan, Alan Pendrid, Topher Dawson and John Macintyre for supplying these.
… and if you have ever wondered what it is like for the oar, St Michael’s Rowing Club in Dunlaoughaire have made an oar’s view video to enlighten you. Great soundtrack too, and as ever with the Irish there is a bit of crack (at 1:40).
Congratulations to Ewan Kennedy of the Isle of Seil Rowing Club for winning the 2013 Cruising Log Competition!
The competition is open to all members of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association clubs. Ewan’s log, published on his Scottish Boating Blog describes a four day expedition in the SeilSkiff, Selkie. The adventure starts and finishes from Selkie’s base on the Isle of Seil, taking in visits to the Islands of Seil, Luing, Shuna and Insh. Sailing was experimented with, but most of the 30 miles of so of travel was conducted under oar, in company with a three other boats of diverse type. As well as a passage under the “Bridge over the Atlantic”, and through the exciting tidal waters of the Cuan Sound, the crew fit in a poignant visit to a beautiful bay in Seil Sound which is about to become part of an industrial scale fish farm development.
The log will inspire others to plan carefully and look at ways in which the St Ayles Skiffs can be used to explore our coastline. Thank you to all the rowers and clubs who submitted entries. If you are planning an expedition for 2014 remember to record it for the benefit of others, and as a reminder for yourself of good times, and of course to submit as an entry to the 2014 Cruising Log Competition!
There will be a public meeting in Findochty Village Hall on Thursday 5th December at 19.00 to gauge interest in building a St Ayles skiff for the village to use. Wendy Clements of Portsoy Coastal Rowing Club has been invited to the meeting to give a perspective from along the coast on how they went about starting building a Skiff.
The meeting is being organised by Findochty Water Sport Club, which has been in operation for over 30 years. As one might guess from the name the club members are already involved in a diverse range of activities including sailing (both racing and cruising) sea kayaking, motor boating, creel and rod fishing. The club can call upon a wide range of skills and wants to involve the whole community in building and using a St Ayles skiff, so please go along if you are in the area.
See an earlier post about other clubs on the Moray and Aberdeenshire coasts.