Zephyr Launched in Avoch

Sunday the 28th of February saw the launch of Avoch Community Rowing Club’s second skiff named ‘Zephyr’. She joins the club’s first skiff ‘Zulu’ which was launched in August 2014 and is the 114th skiff registered in the UK.
A beautifully sunny early spring day gave the perfect back drop as ‘Zephyr’ was piped through the village to the clubs launching site where a simple naming ceremony was held. She was accompanied by over a hundred people on foot as well as four skiffs from other local clubs Ullapool, Burghead, Findochty and Chanonry as well as a couple of canoes!
After a few well chosen words from the former chair of the local community council (and club member and skiff builder!) Angus McWilliam and plenty of applause, ‘Zephyr’ slipped effortlessly in to the tranquil Moray Firth.
The name ‘Zephyr’ has been synonymous with the fishing industry in the village throughout the years. One of the last of the large vessels to operate from the port in its heyday shared the same name and there is still a small fishing boat present today with the same call sign. Zephyr is also of course a wind and hand carved into the bow is a swirl of wind.
Many of the crowd took up the invitation to try rowing for the first time and as the sun set everyone warmed up with teas, coffees and mountains of cake at the club shed. A big thank you to everyone who made the day a great success especially the other clubs who came to support the event.

All the best to the Avoch rowers and their beautiful new skiff!

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Oars at the Ready!

Deveron Coastal Rowing Club will officially launch on Saturday 19th March at Banff Harbour from 10am to 3pm.

Come along and watch races between clubs from St Andrews, Avoch, Portsoy and Burghead and also get the chance to give rowing a go! Teas, coffees, soup and Home baking will be available as well as raffles and stalls.

Well done to the pupils of Banff Academy for all their hard work and all the best to the new club!

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New Coxes Trained in Argyll

The Argyll Cox Training weekend was held on Easdale Island and the Isle of Seil, and attended by enthusiastic wannabe coxes from the Isle of Mull, Mid-Argyll, the Isle of Luing and the Isle of Seil.

Many thanks go to Ali (Portobello) and Andrew (St Andrews) from the SCRA committee for running the course; Nick Hunter for allowing the use of his shore for launching visiting skiffs; Louise, Helen/David and Sue/James for providing beds and Sue (Argyll rep, SCRA) for the soup!

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Photos from Isle of Seil Coastal Rowing Club


Chance to Row at Loch Tummel


Loch Tummel Sailing Club are throwing open an invitation to Coastal Rowing Clubs to bring a skiff and row on the beautiful Loch Tummel on one of their open days on 14th, 21st or 28th May.

The clubhouse will be open for refreshments and there will be a chance for any rower who would like to try sailing to get afloat in a suitable boat.  A great chance to claim another loch for coastal rowing, and meet the natives at the same time.  Perhaps it will even inspire a local group to build and row a St Ayles skiff on the lovely freshwater lochs of Perthshire.

Loch Tummel was enlarged in the 1950’s when the Tummel Hydro Scheme was built and now is some 11km long, the sailing club was formed in 1960 at Foss on the south shore and has been one of Scotland’s leading sailing clubs with several members going on to compete nationally and internationally.
This area – with not just Tummel, but also Loch Rannoch and Loch Tay – would seem ripe for the formation of rowing clubs.
If you are interested in this opportunity please get in touch with Neil Ferguson from Loch Tummel Sailing Club. Find out more at lochtummelsc.org

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St Ayles Skiffs in England…. Busy Year Ahead

There are more events than ever before for St Ayles skiffs in England.  This reflects the big increase in boats launched south of the border, and boats in build for that matter.

Alnmouth Community Rowing are kicking the season off in Northumberland.  On the 20 March they will have races for local skiffs and a social at their base in the beautiful village of Alnmouth.  Weather permitting the community club will also host an expedition around Holy Island (Lindisfarne) on 7 May.  This will of course be an interesting expedition not least because it involves rowing over a road when it covers at High Tide.  Will this be a first for St Ayles skiffs?  The expedition will only take place if the weather conditions are favourable, and a reserve date of  21 May has already been pencilled in just in case.

The briefest sojourn onto English Territory will also take place on 7 May, when the Bell Ringers Raid takes competitors from the Scottish Town of Annan across the Solway to the Bowness, where the skiffies will try to steal the local church bell.  The race partially recreates a  raid in 1626 when some men from Annan raided and stole the bell at Bowness which was the maximum insult in those days.  We do however hope that our skiffs do better than those historic raiders who sadly, due to a combination of heavy bell, small boat and a lot of alcohol lost the bell in the Solway.

Amble has its Puffin Festival on 4 June.     The exact format of the skiff events has yet to be finalised however it will most likely include some short sprint races, a row in company round Coquet Island (weather permitting, or up the river Coquet past Warkworth if the weather is poor.)   There is a live music festival, and other attractions in the town over the weekend.

Down on the South Coast, Oarsome Chance and Langstone Cutters, amongst others are driving on the St Ayles design.  The furtherst south UK St Ayles regatta will take place on 17 June over a diamond shaped course.

Gateshead CRC are hosting a weekend of rowing events on 9th and 10th July.  On the 9th a sprint regatta will run from around 11am (giving time for visiting clubs to travel).  The format for the Regatta will be straight sprints over 500m or 1km .  On the Sunday there will be a “Tour de Tyne”, rowing in company  taking the Tyne bridges in and returning for a BBQ at Derwenthaugh. Accommodation and secure parking will be available for travelling clubs.
Craster, another Northumbrian Village, are busy building a skiff.  To give a bit of urgency they will want to get in on the water and get some practice in before their first event, at their Harbour Day on 16 July.  More details to follow.
Finally the Great Tyne Row  will take place probably around late August, exact date still be be confirmed.  This Classic Autumn race is a 16 mile time trial through Newcastle City centre and down to the mouth of the Tyne.  Around 40 boats completed the course in 2016, with a good selection of St Ayles skiffs in their number.
The full SCRA event listing can be found through the 2016 events tab above.  Follow the instructions there if you would like to have other English St Ayles events added to the calendar.


20 March Alnmouth Alnmouth Community Rowing Season Launch, BBQ & races
7 May Solway/Annan Annan Harbour festival + raid on England – Bell Ringers’ Raid
7 May Holy Island Alnmouth Community Rowing Circumnavigate Holy Island; 12 miles (21 May alternative if weather unsuitable)
4 June Amble Puffin Festival
17/18/19 June Chichester Harbour Langstone Adventure Rowing St Ayles skiff racing  on 17th – diamond course
9 July Gateshead, Tyne Gateshead Community Rowing Club Sprints
10 July Gateshead, Tyne Gateshead Community Rowing Club Tour de Tyne
16 July Craster, Northumberland Craster Coastal Rowing Club Harbour Day
29 August Great Tyne Row (provisional) Long Distance TT

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New Zealand Raid 2016…. in Pictures


You may have read some posts about the KiwiRaid, 15 days of stunning touring in St Ayles skiffs in the warm waters around Aukland, with the odd reggatta thrown in. However you will be blown away when you see Murdo MacLeod’s full photo report in the Guardian, where you will find the picture above and many others.  Just stuning, and what an adventure for all those who took part.

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Wow, Look Who is Rowing on Scotland’s Coast

Thank you to all the clubs who took time to complete our 2015 membership survey.  This has provided interesting information, which will help to develop our sport.  Results of the survey indicate that at the time of the return, Scottish SCRA Clubs had 2196 members and in addition 2214 non members were taken out rowing in the 12 months leading up to the survey.   Most clubs run some sort of initiative to take non members out rowing to share what we enjoy.  That was 4410 people out rowing in St Ayles skiffs in Scotland last year.
We were very interested to find out that St Ayles Skiffs really are bringing rowing to people who would probably never have rowed otherwise.  A massive 90% of our skiff rowers had no experience of rowing in any form before rowing in a St Ayles.   Those 10% with experience will have got it in a variety of forms, some having rowed many years earlier in slide seat boats at University or College, and some having had previous experience of rowing on the sea in fixed seat boats.  However it does surprise many people that our communities have built a sport so independently of organisations which existed before 2010!
The survey also looked at the general boating experience of our club members, whether they had knowledge of the sea in motor boats, sailing boats and the like.  75% of our rowers had no significant boating experience  before rowing in a St Ayles.    We have always claimed that building and rowing the St Ayles has allowed communities to get out on the water together for the first time in generations, and to look at their town from a different angle.  The survey shows that for the vast majority of club members that is indeed the case.  They are of course indebted to the seamanship knowledge of the other 25%, which has been shared and built upon to the benefit of all rowers.
We suspect that we get closer to a gender balance than any other marine recreation, and most other sports. The survey shows that  53 % of our rowers are women.
All age groups within a community are involved. Across the clubs the highest proportions of members are seen in the age categories of 50 – 59, followed closely by the 40 – 49 years olds, and then >60 being the next largest group.  So then we can again see the data showing the success of the St Ayles model as an opportunity for social inclusion and the pathway to fitness that coastal rowing provides for what competitive sports consider to be harder to reach groups.
However, it also highlights the potential to develop our youth pool, and grow the sport at these levels.  To an extent it reflects the structure of coastal communities.  Most of our clubs will find that any youngsters that have been rowing with them are likely to leave the community at age 18 to go to further education or work elsewhere.  They tend not to return until they are in their 30s.  The age group of 18 to 30 is therefore generally light on numbers.
Building the boat yourselves gives a club real ownership and cohesion before the first stroke is pulled on the water.  It is relatively cheap and easy to set up a club (you don’t need a boat house, all you need is access to the water). Average Cost of Club membership is £35 per year, although it is difficult to make a straight comparison, as some clubs charge a small session fee.  However what is clear is that every effort is made to prevent there being a financial barrier to taking part in our sport.

Our biggest club at the time of the survey was  Rowporty, with a total of 146 members.  
Remember, if you can build a boat, you can build a club.  In fact if you can build a boat, you can do just about anything.  And you will have a boat.  Well done to all those who have got their communities, and the sport as a whole, to where we are now.  We continue to grow with new skiffs being launched and new communities starting boat builds all the time.  Good luck to them, and we look forward to welcoming you to the wonderful activity that is coastal rowing.

Find those involved on the SCRA  clubfinder.  If there is not a club near you……. please start one up. You will make a lot of new and grateful friends.   Photos from Alec Jordon (top, at Shieldaig) and North Berwick Rowing Club (bottom, featuring Crail visiting NB).





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Incident Reporting: Helping to Share Knowledge With Skiffies

Please will all Clubs check their entry on the Club Finder page on the SCRA Website, and intimate any changes to secretary@scottishcoastalrowing.org .   The  SCRA Secretary will shortly be sending out to all listed contacts a document designed to aid the reporting and resolution of Incidents or “near misses”. This will allow the Association committee to consider whether there is learning that could be shared amongst all clubs perhaps by way of a “Safety Alert” to be issued,  or simply by way of a regular update of matters which will help clubs review their own risk assessments, protocols or practices.  Reporting will also help the committee consider whether SCRA Rules of Racing or Measurement Rules need to be adapted or amended.

The Incident Report Form is designed to help clubs to carry out investigations themselves for the  benefit this might bring to their own members.  However the ethos of the St Ayles is that we share our knowledge and encourage other communities.

In order to preserve anonymity, the Committee only require to see Page 1 with page 2 for Club use.  Once a report has been submitted, the Committee will consider the report and if required prepare a Safety Alert or Guidance which will be issued to all SCRA member clubs in an anonymous form.  

Andrew Rendle



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Inland Coastal Rowing: Loch Muick 18 June

mull notice of race

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Cork Ocean to City Race Saturday 4 June 2016


Early Bird registration has opened for this years Ocean to City Race.  The special offer of 30 euro per seat is available for a short period only.

Ocean to City – An Rás Mór-  is Ireland’s very own long-distance rowing race attracting hundreds of participants annually.  Now in its twelfth year, it has grown from its origin as a race for traditional fixed-seat boats into an all-inclusive rowing event, embracing everything from traditional wooden working boats, currachs, skiffs, gigs and longboats to contemporary ocean racing shells, kayaks and canoes.  2015 saw eight St Ayles skiffs joining in the race, meaning that there is now a trophy specifically for best performance for a St Ayles, which will be awarded whenever there are more than five St Ayles in the fleet. Last year the St Ayles all took part in the Ocean Course, which is around 15 nautical miles with an entertaining variety of water conditions.

Start times are staggered with the slowest boat types leaving first, and the fastest boat types leaving last. With ocean and city course finishing times varying between 1:45 and 4:30hrs, An Rás Mór is much more than just a race… it is a test of endurance, a personal challenge and a shared effort.  A great time was had by all the participants at last years event.

In the 2015 event the skiffies were all made to feel most welcome, and took home their fair share of prizes.  Coigach brought home the Trophy for fastest  St Ayles.  They were followed in Second Place by a crew from North Berwick, who were also runners up in the overall competition for mixed crews, decided on handicap across all the rowing fleet.  Coigach (mistakenly relocated to Wales on the prize list) also took home the trophy for fastest  wooden boat.  The St Ayles trophy haul was completed when Jeremy Duffin was recognised as boat builder of the day, for his work on the stunning Strangford Coastal Rowing Club boat Strangfjǫrðr.  Coigach have said they are not attending this year, so there is a chance for another club to get their name on a trophy.

More information at www.oceantocity.com


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