Southampton Boat Show

A few weeks ago, Robbie mentioned in another post that a St Ayles would be on display, and another built at the Southampton Boat Show from the 11th to the 20th of September.

As we had just moved house from Fife to Somerset two weeks before, the build at the SBS was more of an undertaking than I would really have wished, but with the level of exposure available, it was an invitation that I could not refuse.

SBS has over 110,000 visitors, and we were to be right beside the main entrance – for most of the visitors, the St Ayles would be the first boat that they saw as they came through the gate. I was therefore pretty keen that we would tell the visitors as much about the skiffs as we could.

Katya Bacica of Rowporty was commissioned to put together a short video and brother Leo to do the artwork for a new leaflet. Knowing the beauty of Shieldaig, I had made my way up there to take photos specifically for the display boards.

Oarsome Chance provided one of their new Scottish Maritime Museum built skiffs for the static display, Jordan Boats provided the kit for the build, Robbins Timber the wood for the hull and the building frame, and Black Bear Boating the epoxy needed for the build. International Paint have promised the paint for the charity that will be completing and using the skiff.

When it comes to building in a restricted space, this must have been about the smallest space ever for a skiff’s construction. The tent was about 26ft by 13ft, and not only had to contain the build, but also the base for the Wooden Boat Trade Association who had invited us. Thankfully all of the timber from Robbins was cut precisely to size, and the stems were provided by Martin Hughes at the Scottish Maritime Museum. Our aim was to get the kit at least as far as getting a gunwale strip glued, so that the hull could be trailered to a store until the decision was made to where it will be going.

The Show opens on Friday for Press Day, this saw us building the strongback and getting the moulds and planks all cut out of the plywood sheets for storage as there would not be the space for cutting out later. This unfortunately meant that there was not much for the visitors to see, but OC1 drew much interest.

Show Entrance

On Saturday, the moulds started going up, and by the end of the day we had something vaguely boat shaped. It is not that easy to be building a skiff while having regular interruption from members of the public asking about them – and there were plenty. Ricky Le Bloas from Ardglass was there and fielded any of the questions from members of the public.

Ian R

With this being on the WBTA area, I was able to call on the skills of Ian Richardson from Orkney who has been building beautiful wooden boats for about 50 years. The scarphs for the hog were cut in one go. Ian will be “consultant” for the builds of the two kits that have gone to Stromness, so he was taking a keen interest in the proceedings. By Sunday evening the stems and the hog were glued, and after a long while baling the display boat, Monday saw us fairing the hog, frames, and stems ready for starting planking.

The main problem with Tuesday was the weather. With frequent showers, work was interrupted regularly by a sudden influx of people sheltering from the rain, but we had the benefit of an influx of volunteer helpers from Releasing Potential, the first charity to be supported by Oarsome Chance. With Milly and Steve in attendance the work started progressing faster, and by the end of the day we had the garboard glued. At that stage, I felt that we deserved a bit of a break, and had a slightly earlier finish. The shavings from the hog and stems also provided a very comfortable bed for Mollie the dog.Molly

Millie and Steve were back on Wednesday, and so was the rain. By 1pm we had Plank 2 on, and the crowds had all but gone. The rain came down continually with the wind; planking in such a confined space with many additional people was not easy, but in spite of this, we had the third pair on by the end of the day.

Monsoon Wednesday

Millie returned on Thursday morning, and with her help and the use of a horticultural heating element to heat the laps, pairs 4 and 5 were on by the end of the day.

The heating element made a big difference to getting the planks glued up and I would recommend it with reservations for groups gluing their boats in barns and sheds over the winter. The main problem of course is that it can get very securely glued to the hull if you are not careful, so before laying it out over the lap, make sure that all excess epoxy has been scraped off. They can be obtained in various lengths from horticultural suppliers.

Heating Element

Friday morning was a little more relaxed with only one pair to glue which was accomplished with the assistance of the RP volunteers, then the stems in the afternoon. As the sun came out and warmth returned, I was able to talk to more people. There was great interest from many, and I am sure that before long Skiff clubs will be appearing around the Solent and Portsmouth harbours, and further afield.

The last two days were far more relaxed with fewer processes to complete. The great moment of turning the hull was on Saturday afternoon, with the press in attendance (well, they arrived a few minutes late!).

The Turn

The first lamination of the gunwales went on on Sunday, and the hull was ready to be trailered to temporary storage on Hayling Island until it can be moved to the recipient charity.
I feel it was a great achievement to have built the hull as quickly as we did. It was at the cost of a couple of errors that will require some fixing, but one of my abiding memories of the week will be the number of people who came to the tent over the last weekend to say that they were amazed that we could have built such a large boat so quickly. Interest has been piqued in a big way.

Ready to go

In closing, I must thank:

Oarsome Chance – for the loan of OC1 for the display boat.
Releasing Potential – for the volunteers without whose help it would not have been possible to get where we did
Robbins Timber – for supplying the timber for the hull and the building frame.
Black Bear Boating – for the generous supply of Epoxy.
International Paint – for the paint that will be used to complete the skiff.
Wooden Boat Trade Association – for the invite to build the skiff at the Southampton Boat Show, and the assistance and tips from their members.

Alec Jordan

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Dates for Next Year Please

Well organised clubs are starting to send their dates for next year’s events in to SCRA so that we can start to put together the 2016 calendar.   We do have the Worlds in Strangford Lough at the end of July, which will cause some distraction, but we must remember that the local regatta is the building block of coastal rowing, where friendships are renewed, new rowers get to race in their first events, and everyone can ruminate about the qualities of different oar designs.  And eat cake.

So please drop an e mail to Sue Fenton (scwfenton<at> with your dates as soon as you know them.  We can publish an update before the AGM (where early clashes can be discussed if necessary).  We should try to avoid nearby events from clashing with each other, but accept that with the number of clubs we now have, there is no problem with three or four events going on at the same time in different corners of skiffiedom.  Events in the calendar so far are as follows:


Date Venue Organisers
28/29 May Ullapool  Ullapool CRC (and friends)
4 June Cork Ocean to City
4 June Broughty Ferry Broughty Ferry Boating
24/25 June Portsoy Portsoy Coastal Rowing Club (Traditional Boat Festival)
17 July Craster, Northumberland Craster Coastal Rowing Club
25-30 July Strangford Lough  St Ayles World Championships
28 Aug Great Tyne Row  (provisional date)


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Love and Marriage Skiff Style

Building and rowing St Ayles skiffs has brought many communities together, but we think this is perhaps the first time that the St Ayles has brought a bride and groom together (and taken them away again).  On Saturday 3rd October, Finlay Robertson married Elisa Ogrzewalla  at St. Andrew-Blackadder Church, North Berwick.

03-10-15, North Berwick, Scotland, UK. The wedding of Elisa Ogrzewalla and Finlay Robertson. Members of the North Berwick Rowing Club row the couple from the town's west beach to the Glen Golf Club. Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography

Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography

03-10-15, North Berwick, Scotland, UK. The wedding of Elisa Ogrzewalla and Finlay Robertson. Members of the North Berwick Rowing Club salute the couple (in the third boat from left) as they row from the town's west beach to the Glen Golf Club. Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography

Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography


03-10-15, North Berwick, Scotland, UK. The wedding of Elisa Ogrzewalla and Finlay Robertson at St Andrew Blackadder church. Members of the North Berwick Rowing Club make an arch of oars. Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography

Photo © Simon Grosset / Q Photography

What made this a particularly romantic occasion, is the story.  Both are members of North Berwick Rowing Club,  Finlay having joined through a family connection and Elisa having been introduced to it by another young German living in North Berwick.  Both Finlay and Elisa raced for North Berwick at the St. Ayles Skiff World Championships at Ullapool in July 2013, where they found they had more in common than the odd blister and a love of the sea.  One year later,  at Ullapool Skiff Regatta 2014, Finlay proposed to Elisa. The setting for this proposal was on Skiff John B (one of the three St. Ayles Skiffs, built by north Berwick Rowing Club),  sat on the shore on Ullapool beach.

The connection with rowing has continued, so much so that, after the wedding ceremony on Saturday,Finlay and Elisa were rowed from the beach in North Berwick Bay, just down from the Church,  1 mile along the coast to The Glen Golf Club in Milsey Bay, where their reception was held.  The vessel used was Skiff John B.  They were escorted by a flotilla of North Berwick skiffs: St Baldred, Blackadder and Zev.

They set off on honeymoon on Monday October 5th.   They are on a road trip visiting many coastal locations around Scotland.  Ullapool will be their most significant destination!

A lovely love story.  Make your own: Ullapool Regatta 2016 is on 28/29 May 2016 and the St Ayles Skiff World Championships is to be held at Strangford Lough from 25 to 30 July 2016.

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Sunset Rowing

So,  the days are getting shorter but with that comes the joy of gorgeous evening rowing.  A round up of some of your superb photos of sunset rows of late….














Firth of Clyde

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Killyleagh Regatta 2015: Our Man in the Narrows Reports

Another fine tale from Our Man in the Narrows, Mr Rory Reilly.

Killyleagh Regatta Sunday 27th September

And so to the final regatta of the season. Killyleagh had set a brute of a challenge course of 5.3 kilometres as well as five 1,000 metre sprints. High pressure settled over us, the sun shone and all was set for a great day.

Our skiff had been put to the test with so many different crews getting out for practice in the week before as we tried to include everyone who was available. This meant that we had 22 competitors racing on the day with just three doubling up.

I was convinced we had done enough with a rejigged crew to win the Challenge but yet again Dundrum raced like a pack of hounds, always chasing us down and snapping at our heels. It didn’t matter what we tried or what mark we rounded they were always there. Once again our winning margin was less than a length. I want to get away from this, it can’t be good for the heart! Our crew certainly earned this victory!!

Next up were the Over 60s who scampered off the blocks and got a length on the opposition by the mark. I think I could have done them more of a favour on the way back by keeping closer to the opposition but we allowed Dundrum, on the far side, to pip us to the post. Again less than a length.

Our Under 45 crew had showed lots of promise during the week and they certainly lived up to expectations; despite being down on the start they ran out comfortable winners, with guess who second? – Dundrum.

Our women’s crew is slick and they had been training well during the week. Being a length or so down on the start left them with much to do but on the other side of the field the arch enemy were powering away and Dundrum led around the mark and kept their lead all the way home. Darn! But our day will come with this crew.

Interestingly our Over 45 men’s crew was the least experienced and were up against some of the strongest from the other clubs. This showed but there is potential here and a winter of consistent rowing will see huge progress. Oh and who won? Dundrum of course!

Last up were our Juniors. Unfortunately Michael was away competing in his sailing boat but we had a very willing sub and the girls played a blinder. They held a much bigger and stronger Killyleagh crew for the first 250 and rowed well to come in second. Again good progress is being made and this is the first step towards our Junior squad.

We’ll miss the excitement and the fun of our regattas. The camaraderie has been great, the hospitality wonderful, the banter fierce, the competition likewise and we are already planning a few joint-training weekends over the winter. It’s time to think about gyms and rowing machines, about how to cope with 30+ active members through the winter and how to get enough time on the water as the evenings draw in and we are limited to weekends. The Skiffie-Worlds are certainly an exciting prospect and we look forward to seeing where we rank among the best. It could be an exciting ten months in Strangford Lough.


Thanks Rory, for another great account of skiff rowing from the 2016 Worlds venue.


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Results from the day’s events were as follows:

Town Rock Challenge 1st Strangford 2nd Dundrum 3rd Killyleagh
Over 60’s Sprint 1st Dundrum 2nd Strangford 3rd Killyleagh
Under 45’s Men’s Sprint 1st Strangford 2nd Dundrum 3rd Donaghadee
Women’s Sprint 1st Dundrum 2nd Strangford 3rd Portaferry
Over 45’s Men’s Sprint 1st Dundrum 2nd Killyleagh 3rd Portaferry
Junior’s Sprint 1st Killyleagh 2nd Strangford 3rd Portaferry

The overall winner of the Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club Perpetual Trophy was Dundrum CRC.


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Paxton Report 2015

Blyth, Gosforth, Gateshead, Alnmouth, Amble, Eyemouth,  Dunbar, North Berwick, Portobello, North Edinburgh, North Queensferry, South Queensferry turned up with 14 boats,  lots of spare crew, lashings of ginger beer and a cloudless sky for a very enjoyable row in company from Tweedmouth up the River Tweed to Paxton House and back.  Rather than trying to summarise a wonderful day here, please check out the great photos that have been published over the past few days on the Scottish Coastal Rowing Facebook Group.   It is worthwhile joining the 1000 members of the Group, to see what others have been up to, and learn from  shared experiences.

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Cockenzie Demolition Row


Skiffies who have ever visited Boatie Blest at their home in East Lothian may have noticed the very large power station, which dominated the skyline above the small harbours at Cockenzie and Port Seton.  The following report is from our demolition correspondent, Gareth Jones:

Cockenzie Power Station opened in 1967 and the two chimneys, just short of 500 feet high, have become one of the Forth’s best known landmarks.  That all changed on Saturday 26th September when the chimneys were demolished in spectacular fashion.  Boatie Blest’s three skiffs, Boatie Rows, Boatie Blest and Boatie Lodge were all out on the water and were joined by skiffs from their neighbours at North Berwick and Musselburgh as well as from Anstruther and Dunbar.  Oh, and hundreds of assorted vessels from canoes to paddle boards, ribs to yachts, fishing boats to lifeboats all vying for position outside the marine exclusion zone in front of the power station jetty.  There was a party atmosphere, with shouting between boats and lots of banter on the VHF.  Porty had been due to attend too but didn’t quite make it in time.

The skiffs managed to get prime position at the front of the flotilla, with only a Police launch between them and the shore and everybody was focussed on the chimneys when, at 12 noon exactly, there was a sudden explosive flash with huge fragments of concrete firing from the base of each tower.  Almost immediately the boats and crews were hit by a solid thump and then a sound of the explosion.  Slowly and in perfect symmetry the two chimneys bowed to each other and lent inwards before merging, like two hands coming together and dissolving into each other.  The structures combined and appeared to turn to little more than a fine smoke, while larger fragments from the tops splashed violently into the water near the sea wall.  As the stacks fell rings of smoke spilled out evenly and the concrete fell into a dark cloud of dust.  A second equally loud and body shaking thump marked the demolition of the landward turbine hall before everything fell strangely quiet and a large dark cloud rose and slowly drifted to the east.

It was a decidedly odd feeling, knowing that the massive reinforced concrete structures that had acted as landmarks for 50 years had been reduced to rubble and dust in just a few seconds.   Hard to imagine the months the chimneys had taken to build and the years of service they had seen, resisting the gales while helping provide Scotland with power.  Belching out polluting gas and dust particles, reaching as far as Scandanavia.   The fishermen who had used the chimneys to mark safe passage around the bands of rock around Cockenzie and children and adults for who the sight meant that they were near to home.  Gradually the realisation of what had happened sank in.  Some people clapped, some, cheered while many just sat and looked.  I am sure more than a few had tears in their eyes.

Photo: Louise Laing

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Ayle of Quinte Raid, and Further Adventures



In Picton Bay, Ontario, members of the Ayle of Quinte Coastal Rowing Club have been preparing recently for their St. Ayles Raid, but with the best laid plans, those of us who know coastal rowing will know that sometimes conditions just don’t quite fit those lovingly tended plans and so it was, on September 12th, with the very first expedition day, when strong winds, cold temperatures and  the relentless downpour (sounds familiar?) saw Day 1 cancelled, disappointingly for all the club members and rowers involved.  The first leg should have seen the raid row from Trenton to Bellville, though on a more positive note, members of Trenton Rowing and Paddling Club, had their first taste of rowing a St Ayles skiff and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Day two then became day 1 of Quinte’s raid, and a remarkable change to blue skies and sunshine, saw Sea Shadow and Sea Spirit set off from Massassauga Point in westerlies to Northport for lunch and a crew change – winds picked up for the second crew, who rowed on to Green Point, ready for Stage Three.


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Stage Three saw the skiffs row 12km on Hayward Long Reach, though rowing into the wind slowed the pace a little,  Bellewille’s Quinte Rowing Club’s Hudson touring double joined the skiff’s for the 22km stretch on the Adolphus Reach of Stage Four, before taking a deserved day off before the final row back to their home port.




The final leg of the Raid back to Waupoos Marina, saw the skiffs leave the sheltered waters of the Bay of Quinte and embrace Lake Ontario proper – but once more challenging conditions required decisions to be made, and the final leg of the great Raid was called off due to unfavourable conditions.

The End Of Raid party went ahead as planned on dry land though, disappointment forgotten and achievements celebrated.


And then….

…Ayle of Quinte Skiff Club’s Stewart Bates coxed the Royal West St Ayles skiff to a second place finish in the 2015 Exciseman’s Chase. The chase, an 8km time trial long distance race from Maidens harbour out to Culzean Castle and back.



And then….

…Ann Fee, (pictured below at number one) Chairperson of Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club, was welcomed aboard Ayle of Quinte’s regular Tuesday row, and had a grand chat about skiffs, racing, World Championships and international friendships.

Hope you make it back in time for Killyleagh’s annual regatta Ann!

Ann, sitting in bow, with Ayle of Quinte Crew




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Karitek Sponsor Freshwater Sprints


Karitek, who produce specialist trailers and launching trolleys for St Ayles Skiffs, have kindly agreed to sponsor the 2015 Freshwater Sprints.  Representatives from the firm will be attending the event, and able to discuss needs with St Ayles skiff Clubs.  Kari-Tek are based in Ayrshire, and have been supplying Scottish Kayakers with boats and equipment for many years.  More information on their range can be found on their website

Thank you to Karitek for your support.

Details of the event can be found on a previous post and in the Notice of Race.  Please make sure you are known to your regional captains if you would like to race.  At least one representative of every club should attend, so that they can take part in the AGM which follows on from the days racing.



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Killyleagh Regatta 2015


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