After a miraculously rain-free regatta (well, nearly) the heavens opened, and a slightly bedraggled Association convened early in the evening in the nearby Kirk Hall, Callander - splendid radiant heating beamed at us from practically every direction – for the 2013 AGM.
Edited highlights and access to the main reports here for now – a full and exhaustive (and possibly exhausting) report on proceedings to follow.
- Robbie Wightman (Convenor);
- Topher Dawson (Treasurer);
- Adam Graham (T&D);
- Ali Grant (Rowporty) (coaching programme development);
- Peter Ashe (Rowporty) (Secretary);
- Stuart Mack (C&PS);
- Barbara Waughman (Anstruther);
- David Todd (Scottish Fisheries Museum).
(and Sue Fenton from Seil kindly allowed herself to be co-opted, subsequently.)
Then we got stuck in to the Measurement Rules Resolutions (voting record available here). This took us some while…
The first St Ayles race on the West Coast of the US took place recently. There are now two skiffs in Portland, Oregon. On this occasion “Rosie” took line honours ahead of ”Doineann”. A meeting is planned in Portland to formally discuss the logistics of setting up a local rowing club, with the two St Ayles and the potential for one or two more via high school builds. The rowers of Portland are keen to be part of a North American St Ayles Association, and believe that there are other places on the West Coast where there is early interest in becoming involved in the Class. Those who met the Rosies at the SkiffieWorlds in Ullapool will remember them with great fondness, and we wish them all well.
There will be a gathering of St Ayles skiffs from the North of Scotland on Saturday 9 November at Avoch on the Black Isle.
The purpose of the gathering is to show the villagers of Avoch the type of boat that they are going to be building, and how enjoyable it is to have them on the water. As you can see from the poster skiffs from Coigach, Ardersier and Helmsdale will be there. Yes, Ardersier, who’s boat Esther is now on the water, although awaiting her official naming ceremony.
Just as we reported a big growth in boats in Moray and Aberdeenshire a few weeks ago, the numbers of skiffs further North are due to increase dramatically too. Loch Broom has had skiffs from the first year of our sport, in the ownership of Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club, Ullapool High School, Loch Broom Sailing Club and Coigach Community Rowing. These were joined by East Coast Boats at Helmsdale and then Wick, who are both now moving on to the building of their second boats.
The Avoch Community Rowing Club are really in the vanguard of a third wave of Northern Skiffs. It looks like their involvement is going to spur near neighbours Fortrose on to build a skiff. With Ardersier just across the Inverness Firth there is a real prospect of being able to meet up by skiff from time to time.
On the other side of the country Assynt Skiff Group are building in Lochinver, and further north strong interest is being expressed in Kinlochbervie.
South of Ullapool, Loch Gairloch have received their kit, and Poolewe are fundraising.
Enquiries have also come in from other places including Lairg (Loch Shin), Cromarty and Invergordon. On the Western Isles there may be a second Stornoway Build at some point, and there is also interest on the West Side and from further down the archipelago.
So far we know of major 2014 Northern Events at Coigach (17/18 May) and a return to the Skiffie Worlds venue of Ullapool on 11/12/13 July. There will also be the Lochalsh Row a 16 mile coastal row organised by Plockton Small Boat Sailing Club, probably to be held some time in May.
Please do comment below if you feel you have been missed out! Update news from Argyll will follow at some point soon!
Two architects that were rowing for the Blakeney team from Norfolk at the 2013 skiffie worlds are keen to help skiff groups build their own boat houses. They have already helped the community with a self-build boathouse project constructed in June 2013 on Tiree. They have started a company called Tog Studio who lead the design and construction of live building projects with groups of individuals who have little or no construction skills.
Through their work on the Boathouse, they have devised a kit of parts for building the boathouse that can be supplied to community groups who might be looking to construction a workshop and storage space for boats. Sounds like a familiar concept!
Above is an image of the Tiree boathouse, now known as ‘The Noust’. There is now a film of this project online on their website which can show you the building process in a bit more detail. http://www.togstudio.co.uk/film/
Scottish Coastal Rowers took a turn inland for the Freshwater Sprints at Loch Venachar near Callander this weekend. We were delighted to welcome the skiffs from Catterline and from Eskmouthe, taking part in a coastal rowing event for the first time. The Catterline skiff also took on crew from the new build currently taking place in Gourdon. All togther there were 15 skiffs taking advantage of the novelty of rowing on sweet, flat water, surrounded by mountains and trees. Eskmouthe and Catterline were joined by skiffs from Seil, Troon, Royal West, Carrick, Cumbrae, North Berwick, Port Seton, Portobello, Queensferry, Anstruther, Newburgh, Pettenweem, Crail.
The inter-region race was won by the “Rest of the World” crew (Stroke Jo from NBRC, 3 Rob from Catterline, 2 Sean from Cumbrae, bow Eleanor from Portsoy), ahead of Fife who were followed in turn by North, Argyll, South East and Clyde.
Newburgh won the victor ludorum and were presented with the Heath Lambert shield. Going into the last race of the day they were equal on points with North Berwick but managed to win the new club long distance race where North Berwick placed second in the open category behind Boatie Blest (from Cockenzie and Port Seton). Crail came third in the overall points, followed by Boatie Blest and Row Porty.
This event brings the 2013 SCRA regatta season to an end. There are a considerable number of new skiffs being built over the winter, and we look forward to welcoming them to the 2014 events circuit.
Photos/ Video to follow.
Teaching With Small Boats Alliance (TWSBA) Conference
October 15 – 18, 2013
About 120 people – educators, youth program administrators, boat builders, museum officials – from all over the U.S. – west coast to east – attended this conference. Topics ranged from how to organize a community program to how to teach steam bending to kids. There was much emphasis on the educational (STEM and core curriculum) value of involving kids in boat building, as well as vocational training and improving the lives of at-risk and under-served kids and adolescents. The enthusiasm and commitment of everyone there was truly inspirational. My kind of classroom:
I took our St. Ayles Skiff, launched it, and tied it at the dock by the L. A. Dunton and Joseph Conrad, next to the new whaleboats for the soon-to-sail Charles W. Morgan. My presentations, on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, were to introduce people to this class of boat and to let them try her out. 40 people took William S. Shipp for a spin, and everyone returned to the dock with a smile.
I met a group of people who have built skiffs like ours, and we are planning regattas as the US fleet grows. Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island boats can gather and race in the Hudson River as well as at the annual North American Championships at Mystic Seaport. The Hull Lifesaving Museum in Massachusetts has open-class racing in late fall, and even winter, and I’ll be following up with them. Bayfront Maritime Center in Erie, Pennsylvania has two boats, an enormous program, and a very enthusiastic staff. There are some very interesting developments in Charleston, South Carolina, I’ll be staying in touch with them. We hope that Rocking the Boat in the Bronx, and maybe Alexandria Seaport Foundation in Virginia will build soon, too. Accordingly, we are starting to discuss organizing a North American association of skiffies.
One thing in particular that struck me was the problem that plagues so many youth boat-building programs: “Well, we built this (these) boat(s). NOW what do we do with it (them)?” That question is neatly answered by the enormous appeal of rowing and racing the St. Ayles Skiff. We have a growing number of rowers at Renbrook – teachers, parents, and kids. At last spring’s launch of our boat I told folks I simply don’t have another St. Ayles Skiff in me. Now I’m thinking we could use a second boat.
I was very impressed by the new fleet of whaleboats that were built by contributing youth programs (like Rocking the Boat and the Apprentice Shop), museums and maritime centers, and even professional boat yards, like Gannon & Benjamin and the Lowell Boat Shop in Massachusetts. The Seaport needed seven new whaleboats, and now they have ten. The organizations that built these boats (each valued at around $120,000) made an enormous contribution to the Charles W. Morgan’s voyage next summer. There was much discussion about folks’ wishes to involve kids in rowing, sailing, and racing these beautiful boats. The logistics, and the complexity of the boats, present challenges. At one point Walter Ansel, a top shipwright at the Seaport, offered an interesting insight. He said that, at the risk of being struck by lightning, he wished to offer an opinion to attendees that perhaps an historically accurate 19th century yankee whaleboat is not the best boat to get kids involved with. Prevailing opinion, all during the conference, was that the more complicated the boat is, the less use the boat was likely to get. A Seaport staffer told me that they have already broken the centerboard handle on Rocking the Boat’s whaleboat, and it cannot be sailed until they repair it.
Walter Ansel suggested that the form of the boat certainly lends itself to safe, seaworthy, efficient movement across the water. See if you can pick out our boat, where it is tied up with the new whaleboats:
I rest my case.
I made a great number of contacts, people with whom an ongoing dialogue will keep Renbrook’s boatbuilding and rowing a rich and beneficial part of what we offer our kids.
Great news from New Zealand is that their first St Ayles Skiff Wee Tawera is ready to launch in time for spring and summer. In further good news a New Zealand Coastal Rowing Association has now been formed to promote the building and use of St Ayles skiffs in the country. Keep checking out the website for the New Zealand Coastal Rowing Association, as it continues to develop. There are currently 11 kits in New Zealand, which are supplied by the Australian Agent for Jordan Boats, Robert Aycliffe of Straydog Boatworks. In one of the photos below you will see the second skiff fully planked (and a lot of other interesting stuff!)
Wee Tawera will be on display at the cloud on Queens Wharf overLabor Weekend (25 to 27 October 2013) as part of the tall ships visit so if you are in Auckland do drop by to say hello and find out more.
From Scotland we wish the New Zealanders all the best as they set off on a journey which has brought so many of us new friends and has brought our communities together.
The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association AGM will be considering possible changes to the St Ayles skiff measurement rules. The rules are there, among other reasons, to try to ensure that boats are reasonably evenly matched, that they are safe, and remain affordable.
We are an association of our member clubs and groups, so it is the clubs and groups that are paid up members of SCRA who will have the chance to vote at the AGM. Anyone speaking at the AGM will be assumed to be speaking on behalf of their member club/ group, and clubs/ groups should please consider the proposals carefully in advance of the meeting and ensure that their delegate is appropriately briefed.
There has been a fair amount of comment on the various posts, which may help clubs in coming to their views. In particular please do read through the comments on the various pages on the Measurement Rules Tab above, and the post on 4 September 2013. North Berwick RC have put comprehensive comments in a document published on their website, which again may assist clubs in considering the issues.
We have received some submissions on specific resolutions as follows:
Resolution 1.6 By specifying that geralds should not be longer than 250mm and banning the fairing of plank edges to a radius of more than 3mm
In answer to queries hopefully this definition will assist …… at the stems, Geralds are formed. That is, on each plank, the overlap of the lower strake is tapered over about 8 inches to a feather edge at the end of the plank where it meets the apron. This allows the end of the plank to be glued to the apron with the outside of the planking mutually flush at that point and flush with the stem.
Resolution 1.7: By specifying that if gunwales are hollow that they must either (a) contain a volume of timber equivalent to the gunwales shown in the plans or (b) be of a dimension at least as great as the gunwales shown in the plans.
The captain of Boatie Blest has commented that this rule could cause many people to be unhappy for what is a small technicality and is concerned that many clubs will not realise that their own skiffs do not comply. “The idea is perfectly fine, the problem is people will be voting because they think there skiff matches the gunwales on the plans. I know of at least 4 (which have been racing regularly for two years) with no problems at all and the people who own these boats will not think that they are affected by this change. The number of boats with wood lighter than larch on the gunwhales is also higher than you think. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 10 boats currently racing are in the workshop this winter building new gunwales because they have voted themselves for this rule. In the long term having a rule similar to that makes sense, could even be that the rule is brought in to skiffs not already launched. I would be very annoyed if some of the boats I’ve been racing against since DAY 1 at Anstruther have to start changing gunwhales to match a rule which is about perceptions.”
Resolution 1.10: By specifying that thwarts must be a uniform width on the fore and aft plane for the whole span of the seat between the points where it is fixed to the sides of the boat.
Coigach have asked that the meeting vote against this resolution. They have built, fitted and used seats which would contravene this resolution if it were made into a rule.
Read their full submission (commenting inter alia on the thinking of the measurement group) the summary of which is as follows:
There is a lot of individuality shown by clubs in finishing their boats and this is one of the many attractive aspects of the St Ayles. There are many deviations from the original drawings and we think it is generally accepted that as regards racing, once an unfair advantage is not gained or safety impaired these departures are acceptable and even to be welcomed.
1 No effect on safety, our seats are 30mm hardwood.
2 No great weight saving, as before 30 mm hardwood when the plans show 20mm larch, some boats have only 15 mm seats, our boats are well above 150 kg.
3 No performance advantage.
4 The reduced area of the seat makes moving through the boat much easier, a benefit in changing crews on long distance races such as the Thames GRR and also swapping over crews on our stony beach in poor conditions.
5 Whatever vague drawbacks to social rowing the committee envisage have not emerged in a season’s use, and could quite easily be overcome by a temporary alteration if needed.
6 It is our boat and we like them, no one else has to make this modification as it gives no racing advantage other than a small weight saving.
Resolution 1.15 (a) by specifying a standard rudder profile, in line with the design drawn by Mr Iain Oughtred or in the alternative (b) by specifying a minimum underwater wetted surface area of 850 cm squared, calculated against the expected waterline of a skiff with a normal weight crew rowing in salt water and that rudders must be attached to the sternpost at two points.
North Berwick have indicated that they oppose this resolution, and have produced a paper by one of their members to support their position. The paper can be found on their website.
A View from the States:
The SCRA is currently the World Class Association for the St Ayles skiff, and it is therefore important to note how the class is built overseas. Gardner Pickering supplies kits in the US and in response to some queries, especially with regard to the greater use of plywood explains:
“We started over here putting St. Ayles in high school shop classes. In an effort to keep these builds going, I started supplying more parts. I think that the plywood inner stems and rudder work well.The inner stems are two layers of 18mm and one of 9mm. The plywood seats are overly heavy and not stiff enough, but it was one more thing that the schools didn’t have to source, and most have used them. 18mm x 200mm plywood seats need two stiffeners, one on each side of the frames. I understand that the seats are being moved a bit. Pine would be better here than plywood. The rudder ( supplied as part of the kit) is as close as I could get from Iain’s drawing. It fits well. The rudder yoke seems to be more popular than the curved tiller. ”
These are important issues, and this is a crucial time to consider them. SCRA is the worldwide class association for the St Ayles skiff, at least until such time as an international association is formed. At the moment in Scotland we have 50 skiffs launched, and not unreasonably the rest of the world will look to us to responsibly take the lead in ensuring that the class can continue to develop fairly. A large expansion in the international fleet is reasonably anticipated, and the fleet is likely to more than double in the next two years. It is worthwhile making the effort to get things right for those new boats, even if it means making some changes to some of the boats that are already on the water. If any changes are required to skiffs already on the water,it is proposed that there will be the possibility of obtaining an exemption certificate for a period.