Hurrah for Helmsdale

Saturday 27th June saw a superb day of skiff racing in Helmsdale at Bunillidh’s first St Ayles Regatta.

From the host club:

On the first sunny day of the year, Helmsdale enjoyed the good weather and the spectacle of the Bunillidh Rowing Club’s first regatta.  There were eight St Ayles skiffs in the Harbour for a day of hard fought competition.  The teams were from Anstruther and Newburgh in Fife, Burghhead in Moray, Ullapool and Achiltibuie from the west coast, Wick in Caithness and Avoch in the Black Isle.

The eight clubs raced over the 1km course for most of the day and were watched by a large crowd of locals and visitors to the area.  The Helmsdale team have travelled to other events throughout Scotland in the last three years but this was there first ‘home’ fixture.  In the first race of the day, the Over 40’s women, the newly launched Avoch boat ‘Zulu’ was the convincing winner.  A great start for them in their first season of rowing.  Helmsdale then won gold in the Over 40’s Men in a very close finish with Newburgh.  The tide had turned and Helmsdale continued to do well with two more golds in the Over 50’s mixed and the Mixed ‘Decades’ race. In the ‘Decades’ race the teams must consist of rowers from four different decades and shows the wide appeal of this new sport.




 The class of Anstruther however was too great for Helmsdale and they pipped the home team in the overall points table for the day.  This was however a great result for Helmsdale, to come second to the club who started the whole thing five years ago shows great progress.  The St Ayles skiff was the brainchild of the Fisheries Museum in Anstruther and now there are over 130 of the boats launched in Scotland and beyond.





The success of the event was down to the support the club received from the local community and businesses.  The Bunillidh Rowing Club were also supported by grant funding from the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund, Timespan Creative place award, the Community Council and the Community Bus Association.

All of the clubs involved had a great weekend of rowing and enjoyed sampling the local hospitality; the 100+ rowers from across Scotland pledged to return to Sutherland.  It is likely, following on from the success of the weekend ,that Helmsdale will make it a biennial event.

Golspie are currently building a skiff so hopefully Sutherland will see more rowing in the next few years.

Thanks to Bunillidh for a great report received in timely fashion and photos supporting a job well done.

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12 Mile Row at Loch Fyne Viking Festival

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From our viking correspondent:
There can be no finer preparation for a twelve mile row than to start the day with a few raids.  Morning starts 7.00am with the traditional Viking breakfast of bacon rolls and coffee,don costume brush you’re beard and board the Long ship Freydis.  First stop Lochgilphead in torrential rain beach the ship and plunge into the loch, a wee pillage round the town and back aboard.  Second stop Ardrishaig more beaching of ship and plunging into the loch,there is no elegant way to depart a Long ship, the clouds part the sun shines,we still get a drenching at the battle of Ardrishaig, as the battle hardened school kids assail us with every conceivable method of firing water.
fyne view
Row time, and the rowers board their St Ayles skiffs as the sun continues to shine and the wind disappears.  Three St Ayles  skiffs set off  being the two Mid Argyle boats and one from Pittenweem.  Visiting rowers from Troon, Pittenweem and Royal West join the one mid Argyller in one of the home skiffs, and end up leading the field home in 2 hours 15min.
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fyne winners
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On dry land there was a presentation of the Trophy and a case of cider to the scratch team.  The trophy will be held by Mid Argyle, a bottle of vodka and a bottle of wine respectively to the other teams. Hot food buffet provided for all in attendance.  The hospitality at every stage of this festival is truly something special.  The organisers Hans Kok and Phil Robertson who built the Long ship are keen to have more skiffs at this event.  If you go next year you will get looked after.
fyne trophy

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The Gryffon Freshwater Launch

On a beautiful evening the skiff” The Gryffon” (number 102) was launched at Castle Semple Loch in Lochwinnoch (Venue of the 2012 SCRA Freshwater Sprints). Skiffs from Troon and Firth of Clyde attended along with members from Royal West to welcome the new skiff onto the water.  The skiff was constructed by pupils at Gryfe High School in Houston(Renfrewshire) supervised by a dedicated teacher Mr Geff Webster.  The enthusiastic pupils soon picked up rowing techniques and had a very enjoyable time.
gryffon row
gryffon swan

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Bendigo Build Becomes ‘Billie’


Since last August, the Bendigo Bank funded latest Tasmanian skiff has been taking shape, under the guidance of build Lead Peter Heading and Project Manager Graham Rankin,and now she’s complete, the Tasmanian St. Ayles Fleet becomes four, with ‘Billie’ joining ‘Imagine’, ‘Swan’ and ‘Chiton’.  ‘Billie’ is named after the Living Boat Trust’s much loved canine mascot, President Peter Laidlaw’s faithful collie, who sadly passed away recently.  Peter himself also stepped up to pipe ‘Billie’ into the water, following her naming by John Young.



‘Billie’ was welcomed on the day by ‘Imagine’ and ‘Swan’.

Congratulations to everyone at the Franklin’s Living Boat Trust on crafting another beautiful St. Ayles skiff down under.


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Sail/Run/Row/Run/Sail/Row Race at Newhaven

newhaven skiff finaleThey called it mid-summer madness, and there was plenty of that before the racing even started with Newhaven rowers and Forth Corinthian Sailors, who jointly organise the Forth Midsummer Challenge starting early  erecting gazebos, organising cake, priming bbqs and ensuring the coffee was good and hot!  Each team was made up of a skiff crew, a runner and a sailing crew.  The runner being taken afloat as a passenger on each marine leg, trying to get some recovery in before pounding the street between Granton and Newhaven Harbours. Racing started well when the yachts (with runners on board) made their way out to the bay to start the race. They raced over to Newhaven harbour and the runners ran back to Granton harbour and their waiting skiffs.   The skiffs (with their runners on board) then raced 1.5km before returning to the harbour. The attending skiffs were Dunbar, Broughty Ferry, Newhaven, North Berwick, Anstruther, Boatie Blest (Cockenzie/Port Seton), Crail, Wormit and Eskmuthe. newhaven figureheadThe runners made their way on foot back to Newhaven harbour and the waiting yachts which then sailed back to Granton harbour.


After five keenly contested legs of sailing, running and rowing, everything came down to the last skiff leg which this year was arranged on a rolling ‘Grand Prix’ start basis, with the skiffs lined up in the order that their teams had completed the first five legs of the race. Boatie Blest took pole position, with their hosts Newhaven in second and Wormit, attending their first ever regatta, holding onto a respectable third. The rest of the teams stretched out behind with Anstruther and Crail bringing up the rear. The skiffs completed a lap of Granton Harbour in this order before the horn sounded and they were off, out of the harbour and round a 1.5km course. Anyone who thought it was a foregone conclusion was wrong – Boatie Blest were first to the turn, but it soon transpired that something pretty special was happening behind them as Anstruther charged through the field determined to make up as many places as possible. In the end, they made up seven, pipping Newhaven for second and giving Boatie Blest a real run for their money. An amazing showing, which earned them an impromptu award at the end!  newhave real medals

Final results:

  1. Boatie Blest / Kashangie II
  2. Anstruther / Castellar
  3. Newhaven / Maxine
  4. Broughty Ferry / Lady Nadonna
  5. Dunbar / Indulgence
  6. North Berwick / Silver Lining
  7. Crail / Dorado
  8. Eskmuthe / An Cala
  9. Wormit / Eclipse

Special mention also has to be made of the fine showing from both Broughty Ferry and Wormit, both in their first racing season, and those teams who gamely turned up with one crew to row both legs.

newhaven anster By this time the sun was shining, the burgers were sizzling, the beer was suitably cooled and the choir was singing! All teams then joined Newhaven for food, drinks and prize giving!  Photos on Newhaven Facebook Page.

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Duchess and Boat Builders meet at Portobello

porty duchess

The Duchess of Rothesay (Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall) met representatives of  RowPorty and boat builders from the Muirhouse Youth Development Group when she visited Portobello on Tuesday afternoon.  She had been invited along to help celebrate 10 years since steps were made towards improving Portobello prom with the creation of Portobello Sailing and Kayak Club and the opening of the Beach House Cafe.

PSKC was in its very early stages when some of its members decided to include coastal rowing in its activities and built a St Ayles skiff.  “Icebreaker” was launched in time to take part in the first ever St Ayles skiff regatta at Anstruther in May 2010.  RowPorty has become one of the most successful clubs in Scottish Coastal Rowing, with a membership of around 120 and a willingness to help and encourage other communities getting started in this boat building and rowing obsession.porty princess

As well as seeing boats 4 and 15 on the register (Icebreaker and Jenny Skylark), the Duchess was able to admire the skiff built by the Muirhouse Youth Development Group, which is all painted and almost ready to launch.   The young builders were unwilling to disclose the skiff’s name to the Duchess, explaining to her that do so at this stage would be unlucky. Three youngsters have formed the core of the building team, tutored by Nik Savage and encouraged and coordinated by Ali Grant. The boat was built within Craigroyston Community High School , Edinburgh and Ali and the team are indebted to Head Teacher, Stephen Ross, and his team for all their support in making this project happen.

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Fisherlass in the Gulf du Morbihan

In the south of Brittany, each year since 2001, the beautiful Gulf du Morbihan sees a week long maritime festival attract boats of character from near and far, with it’s narrow inlets and islands, harbours and endless exploration, providing a near perfect idyll for gigs, skiffs, sail boats and elegant tall ships, a celebration of European maritime heritage.  La Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan divides the registered boats into separate flotillas who then each follow their own individual daily programme, stopping off for midday picnics and evening entertainment in the hosting harbours along the way before finally mingling to cruise in company in the final parade.

This year, ‘Fisherlass’ of Pittenweem, travelled the distance from her home to Portsmith and onwards to the Gulf du Morbihan (meaning ‘little sea’ in Breton).  And as great adventurers do, her crew recorded their journey along the way, with as many oysters and galettes as there were boaties.


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Read Pittenweem’s wonderful adventure in full and enjoy more great photos, video and visual snippets of their well recorded log.





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Magnificent World Championship Trophy



With the announcement of the 2016 St Ayles Skiff World Championships being held in Strangford Lough the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther are delighted to be able to unveil the recently re-plated Worlds Trophy. The trophy, put up by the Fisheries Museum and made by Steve Husband, is a beautiful hand crafted replica of a St Ayles skiff  and will be awarded to the club with the best placing across all the championship categories. It was presented in 2013 to Coigach CRC from Achiltibuie in the North West of Scotland,  who were the first ever winners of the title.  Along with clubs from around the globe,  Coigach will be on Strangford Lough  from 25 to 30 July 2016,  eager to get their hands on the trophy at the end of 2016 Skiffieworlds.


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Firth of Clyde Regatta


Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club will be holding their second annual regatta in Largs on Saturday 22nd August and all interested clubs are invited!

Local clubs as well as those further afield are encouraged to attend and camping facilities will be available. If your club is interested, get in touch.  See contact details below.


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Houston, We Have a Skiff.

Gryffe High School, in Houston, Renfrewshire, Scotland,  will be launching their new skiff The Gryffon this Tuesday 23 June at 7pm on Castle Semple Loch.

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