2015 SCRA Club Survey – Action Please Club Secretaries

SCRA are trying to gather a bit of information about those who are using St Ayles skiffs, in order that we can work out how the Association can best serve them, and so that we can use the aggregated information to make representations to outside bodies, who may not be aware of the size and nature of what we do.  Last weekend was a stunning example of the amount of activity going on, with four busy regattas in different parts of the country all happening at the same time.  People beyond our own clubs should get to know about this!

A survey is being sent out to club contacts that we hold, and we would be very grateful if those running their club can take a few minutes to complete the survey and submit it.  It is probably worth having a click through it first, as there are some questions on it that might take a bit of digging.  For instance we are trying to get an idea of age and gender of coastal rowers, so it is helpful if clubs can let us know the age and gender breakdown of their memberships.  We are also seeking information on facilities, accessibility, and the potential impact on localities of holding events.  There is also a request about your clubs intentions with regard to the 2016 Worlds!  We only want one return from each club please, so would be grateful if each club committee can ensure that one person is detailed to deal with this matter.

We would be very grateful if club secretaries could respond to the survey within two weeks if at all possible.  We are hoping to use some of the aggregated information for a presentation at the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Marine Recreation at the start of next month, and will also pass on some aggregated information to be used at the Southampton Boat Show, where we understand there will be a skiff in construction displayed, with some information about the development of the St Ayles skiff and encouragement to more groups to become involved.  We will also endeavour to share useful information coming out of the survey in advance of the 2015 SCRA AGM, which will be held on 24 October.

If you are part of a group that feels they should have received a link to the survey but has not please contact Karen:  karenmcgonnell@hotmail.co.uk

Many thanks in anticipation,

Robbie Wightman

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Broughty Ferry’s First Skiff Rowing Regatta


broty start

Broughty Ferry Boating held its inaugural Regatta on Saturday 1st August and welcomed teams from local clubs Anstruther, Crail, Newburgh, Pittenweem, Queensferry, St Andrews and Wormit. Races were held on a rectangular course on the Tay making full use of the Royal Tay Yacht Clubs Facilities which BFB is part of. Great attention was paid to the organisation and refereeing to enable some close and competitive racing. There were six races each of two waves of four boats.

The first race, the Mens 45+ was won by Broughty Ferry who pulled out a strong lead in the first wave from Crail who came second and Anstruther third who led home the second wave from Newburgh when they were disadvantaged when they incurred a penalty turn for an infringement but recovered well to come in second in their wave. Result 1st Broughty Ferry 2nd Crail 3rd Anstruther.

The second race was another success for the home team in the Ladies 60+ second to Broughty Ferry were Pittenweem with Wormit third. This was pleasing as both these clubs were participating with smaller numbers on the day. Result 1st Broughty Ferry 2nd Pittenweem 3rd Wormit

Race three was the Mixed Open, and again Broughty Ferry put their stamp on this with a powerful row when they were being pushed by Crail who finished third as Anstruther took second place when they held off Queensferry and Newburgh in a close finish in the second wave. Result 1st Broughty Ferry 2nd Anstruther 3rd Crail

In the lunch break a novelty race had been organised between the Bro’ty “Dads Army” and the “Ladies Land Army” (fixers gofers and washer uppers). With the men in their normal orange boiler suits and the ladies in suitable fancy dress the spectacle was enriched with the sight of walking sticks and zimmer frames for the men and Gloria the ladies Cox AKA Ralph H. Once underway the men raised a spinnaker in the shape of an umbrella which incurred them a penalty of precisely the same as their winning margin which was enough to hand the race to the ladies.

broty land army

Once the hilarity had died down and the lunch break was over the first race of the afternoon was the Mixed Decades race, with some close rowing in the first leg Anstruther rounded the buoy from Crail with Broughty Ferry and Wormit in close pursuit, the second wave had the crowds roaring with a close finish between St. Andrews and Newburgh who were closely followed by Queensferry and Pittenweem. Result 1st Anstruther 2nd Crail 3rd Broughty Ferry

The Women’s Open race was next on the card with Crail pulling out a lead on Anstruther to make the first turn these two were followed by Broughty Ferry and St. Andrews. In the second wave Newburgh led home St. Andrews, Queensferry. Pittenweem and Wormit. Result 1st Crail 2nd Anstruther 3rd Broughty Ferry.

The final race on the programme was the Men’s Open which encountered a flash down pour just as it started with the wind behind it the Tay became a torrent of chop and spray as they set off. Broughty Ferry, Queensferry, Pittenweem and Wormit had the worst of it in the first wave and although the home team pulled out a substantial lead it wasn’t enough to feature as the second wave had some close racing between Anstruther, Crail, Newburgh and St. Andrews. Result 1st Anstruther 2nd Crail 3rd Newburgh.

The final trophy of the day was one by the home club for the overall points on the day this was closely contested with places changing constantly. Result 1st Broughty Ferry 2nd Anstruther 3rd Crail 4th Newburgh 5th St. Andrews 6th Queensferry 7th Wormit 8th Pittenweem.

Broughty Ferry Boating are pleased to have had the support of fellow skiffies to make this a great day, and thanks to everyone who helped make it happen a great BFB team effort.  One ex-rower e mailed the SCRA to say:  “Broughty Ferry put on a stonking event yesterday. Absolutely Fantastic! Incredible organisation. Very nice friendly people also.”  Photos below are from Ian Mills, those above from Annabel Baker.

June2015-19588sm June2015-19607sm June2015-19625sm June2015-19630sm June2015-19655sm

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Collieston Regatta 2015

Spoiler Alert:  No close racing pics to follow.


In glorious sunshine, skiffs from Isle of Mull, Portsoy and Catterline/Gourdon, joined Collieston on Saturday 1st August for an impeccably planned regatta which in the end was all but abandoned due to challenging sea conditions, deemed unsafe for multiple skiffs on the water.  Following a period of  risk assessment and pancake eating, decisions on the viability of the event were postponed until Safety Officers left through the swishy harbour mouth and returned disheartened.


Each club made the individual decision whether to put a crew out for a social row, with a maximum of two boats on the water at any one time, accompanied by safety boats.  All crews took the opportunity for a sunshiny watery roller coaster ride, and reported back with waves of enthusiasm.

With a freshening breeze, a period of monitoring followed, waiting on the incoming tide for any improvement, and meanwhile a pop up nail bar allowed all keen skiffies to co-ordinate with skiffie attire.



With traditional 2K and slalom events cancelled, attention was directed to the Admiral’s Transfer (this year incorporating ‘The Ice Cream Dash’) and this harbour test of navigation skills and resilience commenced in  afternoon.


Crews were challenged to this time trial event, consisting of beach launch to a starboard turn round a marker, back to start point by way of a 540 degree turn reverse to shore, where a nominated crewmember would disembark, eat a waiting ice cream, and re join their crew.  Skiffs would then traverse the harbour, to a club member waiting on the pier, throw a bow line to that person who would then transfer a ‘The Admiral’s Booty’, and upon successful completion, sprint back to their start point.




Coastguard Rescue Helicopter did at one point appear, in the event that the condition known as ‘ Ice Cream Head’ (aka brain freeze) became a real and serious threat to health and safety on the day.


Results were announced following Crew Supper that evening, with Collieston Ladies incurring a thirty second penalty as a result of rule breaking due to their nominated crewmember not finishing their ice cream before re-boarding the skiff.  Joint first place was awarded to Dervaig (Isle of Mull) Ladies and Collieston Ladies.

So, the event didn’t quite go as planned, part and parcel of coastal rowing in Scotland, but the reliable skiffie enthusiasm and banter was present in abundance, and it was a day of challenging rowing, fun and laughter, catching up with old friends.

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Musselburgh Races

Eskmouthe Start

Eskmuthe, who pull their members from the conjoined towns of Musselburgh and Fisherrow, welcomed skiffs from neighbouring towns, as well as a small contingent of rowers from Northumberland, for their second skiff regatta.  The course was in the relative shelter of the beach to the East of the Harbour, and consisted of a race out for 500m to a line of buoys, and then back to the beach.  RowPorty deserve special mention for taking time to be with their neighbours at the same time as a contingent of their rowers was up at the Shieldaig Boat Races.  The anticipated “paddle” race was called off because of the weather conditions.   Results of the categories that did go ahead were as follows:

Mixed Open
Boatie Lodge 6.41.4
Skiff John B 7.04.2
Icebreaker 7.25.2
Steedie Falconer 7.40.4
Honesty 8.58.3

Boatie Lodge 7.40.1
Icebreaker 7.47.3
Skiff John B 8.27.7
Steedie Falconer 8.43.3

Skiff John B 6.43.6
Boatie Lodge 6.44.5
Steedie Falconer 7.27.1
Icebreaker 7.35.1

Boatie Lodge 7.41.5
Skiff John B 7.58.9
Icebreaker 8.24.3
Steedie Falconer 9.29
Honesty 11.9.5

Pick n Mix
01 BOATIE LODGE 07:27.94
03 SKIFF JOHN B 08:32.18
04 HONESTY 08:59.44
05 ICEBREAKER 09:04.35


eskmouthe side


eskmouthe return

Thanks to Jon Gerrard for the photos.


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Meet the Arran Skiff at the Arran Show 2015

Arran Coastal Rowing Club will be showing islanders the progress on their first skiff when they take the hull along to the Arran Show on Wednesday 5th August.   The hull was turned fairly recently, and work has commenced on fitting out. Anyone on the island should nip along to the show and find out how they can get involved with completing the boat build and then rowing it, and in due course perhaps representing the island in races against other communities.

More details on the Arran Coastal Rowing Club  Website and Facebook page from which the photo above is taken. Membership forms can be downloaded from the website.  The Facebook Page also reports the good news that Arran Junior Sailing Club have been given a grant from Awards4All, to enable them to build a skiff and buy a trailer, which is just great news all round.

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The Boat Race Comes Back to Shieldaig




After tremendous rain the weather cleared in time for Shieldaig’s inaugural regatta which revived a tradition of rowing races round their island in clinker built boats. Of the 9 skiffs in the race, 2 were racing for the first time. Yackydoola, newly launched from Siabost on Lewis, and Chanonry Maid from Fortrose made their race debut along with skiffs from Gairloch, Porty, Coigach, Wick, Avoch and two from Ullapool.
The course was from a row of lane markers, round the island, back through some rocks to a finish off the beach. It provided exciting close racing with nail biting overtaking situations amidst very beautiful scenery. The village fronts on to the sea and all the boats pull up on the shore to change crews, so the whole event is compact and makes excellent sport for spectators. Over the five races Coigach produced a strong performance and took the overall trophy, with Avoch second and both Ullapool boats a close third equal. The weather ranged from warm sunshine to showers so heavy they foamed the sea. Altogether a fine regatta in very atmospheric scenery with friendly efficient organisation.




Hopefully the success of the regatta will lead to Shieldaig having their own skiff in order to take part next year.  Organiser Ruairidh Maclennan was keen to thank the teams who attended, saying “I just wanted to say a very quick thank you to you all for coming yesterday and making our first regatta such a success. I’ve already had an incredible number of people offering to get involved in our own skiff build off the back of yesterday’s event.”  These photos are from Alec Jordan.  There is a set of photos from Steve Carter here, and I expect more will be going up on the SCRA Flickr Group.





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Busy Weekend of Racing!


Sunshine and showers at all the skiff regattas on in Scotland this weekend.  Events were held at Fisherrow on the Forth, Broughty Ferry on the Tay,   Collieston in Aberdeenshire, and Shieldaig in Wester Ross.  Reports and results to follow as soon as we have them.

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Portsoy 2015 Photos from Kathy Mansfield

Scotland, Portsoy   © Kathy Mansfield Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2015

Scotland, Portsoy © Kathy Mansfield
Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2015

Award winning marine photographer Kathy Mansfield was at Portsoy again this year, and her excellent photos (and indeed the back catalogue for previous festivals) can be found on her website.  The photos from 2015 have all been organised in one of her galleries.  All photos available for purchase.

Scotland, Portsoy   © Kathy Mansfield Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2015 St Ayles skiff racing

Scotland, Portsoy © Kathy Mansfield
Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2015
St Ayles skiff racing

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A New Coastal Rowing Club for Urban Glasgow?

Please spread this word, and see if we can start a new community rowing club in Glasgow.  For over a decade now GalGael have been a well-known landmark on the Govan landscape. During those years they have built a growing reputation for making a real difference to many who struggle with the challenges of today’s modern culture. One of the ways in which they have achieved this is through involving the community in traditional boat building and restoration. In this way, people find skills, purpose and inspiration.  One of their projects has been to build two St Ayles skiffs, Gobhancroit, and Lady Danger (the latter being the only skiff that we are aware of which has been named after a lipstick used by one of the builders).


Although rowers from the project have attended a handful of events, those organising activities at Galgael have recognised that as it has not been a core activity amongst their own projects, the skiffs have not been used as much as they could be.  There is therefore a desire to start a new Coastal Rowing Club in the centre of Glasgow, whose members will take on the responsibility of making sure that the boats get plenty of use, represent Glasgow at some of the enjoyable events on the SCRA calendar, and help to maintain the boats, and who knows….  perhaps inspire the building of more boats.

Galgael can continue to help by providing the two skiffs, and helping with storage, trailers, use of the pontoon at Riverside and other things, if some urban coastal rowers will come forward to get things moving on the water and administer a club.  If you are interested in becoming involved please, please get in touch with Ben Duffin, the lead boat builder at Galgael:   ben@galgael.org .  Also of course if you can think of anyone living in Glasgow who would benefit from enjoying the Govan Coast, please pass this message on to them.  This might of course include students from coastal communities who are missing the joys of community boat use while they are hard at their studies in the city, but could be anybody.  You do not need to be a highly tuned athlete to enjoy the benefits of rowing St Ayles skiffs.  Thankfully.

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Shawbost launch Yackydoola: A Rowporty Report

Rowporty’s Adventure to the Outer Hebrides
By Andres Leslie
Twenty members of Rowporty and their families made the annual pilgrimage to Lewis to attend the launch of An Eathar’s new skiff, Yackydoola, on Wednesday 15th July 2015 with our good friends at Siabost, a coastal community on the west coast of Lewis.  This year’s programme extended over 4 days, which included the launch of Yackydoola, 2 ceilidhs, a Hangi, and over 30 miles of coastal rowing.  See the report on BBC alba of the launch of Yackydoola:
There is a video of the launch posted on An Eather’s facebook page, which can be viewed on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=028H_z5jxRM
After the launch, which took place in the fresh water Loch a’ Bhaile, in Siabost, we were all treated to a lovely lunch at the old school, soup, sandwiches and cakes made by the generous Siabost ladies.

After the launch of Yackydoola, three skiffs (Jenny Skylark from Portobello, Yackydoola and the Stornoway skiff Madadh Ruadh) were launched in Stornoway harbour to take part in the Stornoway Parade of Oar and Sail as part of the Sail Stornoway (https://www.hebceltfest.com/).  We had 3 crews row JS around the harbour and out to the Rubha Airinis light house in glorious sunshine and a light breeze.  The fish were not to be found.

After a day of rowing we refuelled with a fish supper in Stornoway before heading to the ceilidh at the Sea Angling Club in Stornoway, which saw some energetic dancing by those attending and some local tuneless singing about rambling and gambling, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, probably for the wrong reasons.

On Thursday 16th July, the 3 skiffs were launched at Crossbost on the East coast of Lewis, south of Stornoway, with the aim of rowing to Keose, around 5 miles.  We had wall to wall sunshine and rowed in company, with a fishing boat for safety cover, plus 2 yachts and the dipping lug.  The row involved navigating past salmon farms in calm sheltered waters.  We spotted sea eagles in flight and made it to our picnic lunch on a beach with piles of discarded scallop shells.
Rowporty ‘borrowed’ the Stornoway skiff for the day, which enabled virtually everyone to get a long row.  Others had the opportunity to crew the dipping lug back to Stornoway, where they were fortunate enough to see an orca!
Thursday video https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=26&v=ZR8quw0yIE4&hd=1

The Falmadair trust maintains the sail vessels:

The plans for Friday 17th July changed due to the increasing wind speed and direction, so Murdo and his team at An Eathar arranged for us to launch Yackydoola and JS in Uig, at a little place called Uigean, near Miavaig to row out to Loch Roag.

Seatrek were kind enough to offer one of their large ribs to accompany us and offer safety cover.  The row involved rowing past several islands (Flodiah, Gousam, Fuaigh Beag) and returned via Grasabhaig.  The wind had picked up but thankfully the return journey involved being pushed along by the wind while we fished.  Only 2 small fish found on that day.

Rowporty had 2 crews for this long row, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Those on land had the privilege of an Ian Mackay special tour around the Tweed Mill, which involves taking over the place for an hour!  The tour was cut short as Ian was called away on an emergency, he is the local fireman as well as a master weaver, crofter and the nicest man you are likely to meet anywhere.  In the afternoon, some of those still on land, where able to enjoy a tour of the local Norse Mill and Black House with Angus Macleod, who has been so good to us over the past years.

In the evening we all met at the Old School in Siabost for a traditional Ceilidh.  The Ness Melodeon Band 7 accordions, which had everyone up dancing, a mixture of Rowporty and Siabost locals, a fine blend.  There were a number of people taking turns for a song including Martine from Port Seaton, Ruby and Phoebe from Rowporty, Beth, Jennifer Spiers and several local Gaelic singers, including Ian Macaulay, Annie Maclennan, Wasp and Calum Angus Macdonald.


On Saturday 18th July, another early start!  This time we launched the 2 skiffs on the local fresh water loch at Siabost for tester sessions for local families.  The weather was a bit dreich in the morning, but this did not put off the locals as there was a steady stream of people wanting to have a shot at one of the rowing boats.   At one point we had 9 adults and children in JS!

At 1pm we were back at the Old School in Siabost for another lunch of soup, sandwiches, tea & coffee and a selection of home baking.  Further taster sessions took place in the afternoon, until around 4pm, where the Yackydoola and JS eyed each other at the start line of a 1.5klm race around 3 buoys.

The race started well with Yackydoola getting a few yards ahead before JS overtook her on the way to the first buoy. The race was on as Yackydoola’s cox tried to overtake JS on the way to the second buoy by heading directly to buoy 3.  It was a tight race around buoy 2 and 3. In the final straight, in sight of victory and in front of a large crowd (4 people, 6 sheep, 2 highland cows, 3 ducks and one goose) the boats where gliding along side by side, so close in fact that one of Yackydoola’s fine new oars with oak inserts, knocked Cathy clean off her seat, causing some hilarity and excitement, the boats crossed the imaginary waterly line to the sound of Ian Mackay’s pick up truck’s horn and cheers from the gathered crowds!

Then there was enough time to load the boats onto their respective trailers and head for the feast that was the Hangi. They been holding a Maori Hangi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hāngi in Siabost for the past 15 years and we were lucky enough to be invited this year. As you would imagine, it was a feast which we devoured with gusto.  Then came puddings, every kind of crumble and cake you can imagine, to die for.

The prize fiving took place after the Hangi.


Finally, a big thank you to An Eathar CRC for their warm hospitality and for all those in Siabost, who have been so generous with us again this year.  We look forward to returning the kind hospitality when you come to see us in Portobello in the not too distant future.

From Rowporty’s view point, it was great seeing the birth of another skiffing club with all the vibrancy, enthusiasm and friendship that comes from building a beautiful skiff and getting it on the water.  A great addition to the Siabost community and we hope it helps to strengthen community bonds and enables new links to be forged with other coastal communities.

Many thanks

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