SCRA Guidance for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits)

SCRA Guidance for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits)

*** 30 July UPDATE ***

“Further to the First Minister’s Statement at lunchtime on 30 July, we would suggest that the changes implemented over the coming days and weeks, in Phase 3, do not permit any further changes to the guidance previously issued below. Stuart, our Convenor, is in constant communication with SportScotland.

The SCRA Committee will be conferring with SportScotland as to any potential changes that could take effect during Phase 3.

We would encourage clubs to consider all the implications of a safe return to rowing relevant to their club.

Be prepared as it will happen some day.”

SCRA Guidance for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits).

This guidance is being issued following the publication of ‘Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis’ (21 May ) and in light of the First Ministers Briefings on 28 May, 18 June, 9 July & 30 July. The route map sets out Scotland’s journey out of lockdown in four key phases. As we are sure you will be aware, there is to be little change to the current situation with regards to rowing St Ayles skiffs. (The exception being a crew of five living in the same household, and in compliance with other published requirements). Phase 1 does lift the restrictions for solo vessels such as picnic class, or those that can be used by a household group, to get back on the water. However, these activities should only be undertaken after careful risk assessment and compliance with advice regarding hygiene, social distancing with regards to launching and recovery where others may be present and travel distance to participate.

The advice of the SCRA is to continue to be patient and wait until restrictions are eased, in particular, those in relation to social distancing. This will not be in Phase 1, 2 or 3. It is simply not possible to row, complying with 2 metres social distancing, as the diagram below illustrates.

If each person has a circle around them of 1m radius/2m diameter, then to be 2m away from someone, your circle and their circle should not overlap. (If we were Victorian ladies wearing hoop skirts of radius 1m then we would not be able to get closer to other hoop skirt wearers than 2m.)

We are however, looking ahead to the re-introduction of on-water activities and how we do that safely in St Ayles skiffs, whilst adhering to Scottish Government guidelines and those of significant others, such as harbour authorities, RNLI, health bodies etc.

We know that exercising on the water brings enormous benefits in terms of both mental and physical health and our activities are often the lifeblood of our communities. If nothing else, now is an ideal time for clubs to take note of the most recent guidance and carefully risk assess their own activities in accordance with this, so that they are fully prepared to get back on the water once restrictions permit. You can read the Scottish Government’s ‘route-map’ here.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/

Risk assessments may pick up things which means that clubs cannot yet return to the water, or need to make significant changes to the way they operate, before they do. Clubs should also take into account the views of their members and the local community. It is worth noting that the evolving Covid-19 situation may mean that clubs in different parts of the country commence activities at different times.

When we reach the stage that clubs can get out, we will need to change some of the ways that we do things. At this stage, revised and simplified draft guidance below is restricted to going for a row with your club mates. Taking part in organising events will require a different risk assessment and may not occur for some time after rowing locally is possible. To begin with, it may be useful for club committees to do a virtual ‘walk-through’ of a typical rowing session to identify and take steps to respond to potential risks.

Here is some guidance which may assist with making safe decisions.

SCRA Guidance for when rowing resumes:

  1. Do not attempt to go rowing if you feel unwell, or have any symptoms consistent with Covid 19, or are supposed to be shielding, regardless of whether this may result in a row being cancelled.
  2. Consider safe management of those requiring assistance to get in / out of boats and whether this is possible within current advice and personnel.
  3. Use your own, clean equipment (water bottles, clothing, VHFs etc). If borrowed or club equipment is used (life jackets, seat cushions etc) this must be thoroughly cleaned between crews.

 (It is the soap and thorough scrubbing and then rinsing that helps to disable and remove any virus, and it does not matter if the water is hot or cold. Washing-up liquid is as good as soap for removing the virus. The soapy water should also help remove any virus from your hands at the same time).

  • Be mindful of ‘contact’ areas on the boat such as gunwales, seats, tillers, including rope tillers, etc and ensure these are wiped for each new crew.
  • Wash your hands before and after rowing. If you wear gloves, ensure your gloves are clean each time.
  • Follow Scottish Government advice with regard to face coverings. The face covering is to protect others, not the wearer.
  • The ‘Test and Protect’ contact-tracing app, may necessitate personal mobile phones being carried. (People signed up to this app receive a text alert on their phone, notifying them if they have been in contact with a person subsequently testing positive for Covid 19). However, be mindful that mobile signal may be absent in some areas.
  • Be more cautious than normal. You want to reduce the chances of others being called out to assist you until all support services are fully up and running.
  • Wash down the boats and oars with soapy water and/or disinfectant after the outing, paying particular attention to the parts which you know you have touched.
  • Wash / wipe down your kit when you get home, including your gloves. Wash your hands after your activity, and before you engage in other activity.
  • Further consideration will be necessary for those with club houses or undertaking boat building and routine maintenance.

If you are intending to take a picnic class boat or other small boat out, please only do so after carefully risk assessing the proposed activity, and at all times being very considerate of others and take extra care.   Remember that although what you are doing is probably not a club activity, any negative feedback or outcome will probably affect your club and indeed the whole fixed seat coastal rowing community.  Ensure that your local harbour authority are happy for you to use whatever facility you need to use to get on the water.  Follow the advice in the SCRA guidance document above in so far as it is applicable to your activity and always comply with Scottish Government advice re hygiene, social distancing and distance travelled to participate.

The future will be very different. Even into Phase 4 and beyond some of the hygiene and social distancing requirements may continue. Clubs need to consider the implications, such as more life jackets, access to cleaning/sanitizing facilities at their launch sites, etc. In the coming days, we will be adding to this post with examples of procedures developed by clubs, so please look out for these.    Last update: 30 July 2020  

Scottish Government updates are here:

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

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Castle to Crane 2020: Join us from your Home Waters 19/20 September

We are very keen to go ahead with Castle to Crane Race, but this year we are holding back from bringing everyone to the River Clyde. Instead we are inviting crews of any fixed seat rowing boats, wherever in the world they are, to join us by undertaking a 5 mile (or 8047 meter) time trial on their own waters and submit their own time for the Castle to Crane Race (Home Waters International Edition) 2020. This will hopefully allow the maximum number of people to get back onto competition on the water, and recognises that getting everyone to travel to be together in the one place may still not be wise come September.

Entries for this rowing from home challenge will open in a couple of weeks. Entry is open in any fixed seat rowing boat and we very much hope that all the major classes will be represented. Usually Castle to Crane is undertaken in coxed boats, but for the 5 mile time trial we are happy to receive entries from boats that are normally rowed without a cox such as Picnic Class Boats and several classes of Curragh.

There will be a 48 hour window of participation over the weekend of the 19/ 20 of September 2020. We are happy for the same boat to be used by more than one crew, and rowers can row in more than one crew, provided each 5 mile time trial is completed within the window. More information [e.g. entry fee, rules] to follow … still finalising some details. Keep your eye on the Castle to Crane Race webpages for updates. Enter the time trial with optimism and confidence. We have an “alternative challenge” lined up for any crews that find they are unable to complete the course on the water together for whatever reason. Go coastal rowers!

Castle to Crane: 5 Mile Time Trial on your home waters, 19/20 September 2020
Crews Passing Dumbarton Castle (photo Steve Thomson)

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Ten Years of Scottish Coastal Rowing

Congratulations to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association on how far it and the community it serves has come since it was formed on 29 May 2010.

On the Start Line, Anstruther 2010

The SCRA was formed at the very first St Ayles Skiff regatta, which was attended by skiffs from Anstruther, Cockenzie & Port Seton, Portobello, Coigach, Ullapool and North Berwick. They were all new to the sport, and indeed the North Berwick boat was launched for the first time ever shortly before the first race. These communities and others had been building St Ayles skiffs under the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, an initiative developed by the Scottish Fisheries Museum and Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats. The Project involved the Scottish Fisheries Museum commissioning Iain Oughtred to design a boat, which Alec Jordan could supply as a kit to communities for construction. The idea initially was to resurrect coastal rowing on the Fife coast, but the Project was so successful that six months after its launch skiffs were in build all around Scotland.

The six clubs with skiffs were joined at a meeting during the regatta by representatives of other clubs, including Dunbar, Royal West of Scotland (Greenock), Eyemouth and Queensferry. The meeting founded the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, and formally adopted three key documents: The SCRA constitution, the SCRA Rules of Racing, and the Measurement Rules for the St Ayles Skiff class. Robbie Wightman of North Berwick, Ian Clark of Royal West, and Topher Dawson of Ullapool were elected as Convenor, Secretary and Treasurer. The Association acknowledged (and continues to acknowledge) the great debt it owes to those who were involved in the preceding Project. The influence of bodies such as the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, Irish Coastal Rowing Federation, and Shetland Yoal Racing Association must also be acknowledged for providing inspiration. However it was important that the new sport of Coastal Rowing was organised by and on behalf of those who were actually taking part in it. Except for the racing organised by SYRA in Shetland, there had been no inter-club coastal rowing in Scotland for decades. Thus the need for the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, its rules and structures.

In the first season of racing regattas were held at Anstruther, Portobello, Eyemouth, North Queensferry, Portsoy, Cumbrae, and North Berwick. At least one rower managed to race at every regatta in the season, something that is no longer possible. The sport has grown so much that on some weekends four or five regattas can be on at the same time in different corners of Scotland.

Convenor of SCRA Stuart Mack (stroke) and Past Convenor Robbie Wightman (bow) enjoying a row with other SCRA committee members at Portsoy

SCRA has been a forum for clubs to share the knowledge that they have built up. The strength of the Association comes from the clubs that form it, and the work and dedication that goes in to keeping those clubs going. Each club generally starts with a group of enthusiasts wanting to build a boat. The SCRA completed and hosted the instructions for building St Ayles Skiffs. Sharing knowledge has always been an important function for SCRA. The association has gone on to develop guidance and training for coxes, rowers and umpires.

Most of the events that rowers take part in are organised by SCRA clubs.  SCRA keeps a calendar of events, so that everyone can plan where their blisters will come from. SCRA itself though has organised major events that bring the clubs together, including Castle to Crane (a 13 mile race from Dumbarton to Glasgow in September each year), touring events (the Jacobire Muster, RowAround Scotland) the Freshwater Sprints (held in October each year, and raced by regional teams) and of course SkiffieWorlds, the world championships for the St Ayles Class. 

The St Ayles skiff movement became a world wide phenomenon fairly early on. The first overseas builds were in the United States. These were joined by builds in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Netherlands, with more countries joining later. The SCRA assumed responsibility as International Class Association, and spread good practice and (with varying degrees of success) compliance with the measurement rules, so that international racing could be fair and successful.

The idea for Skiffieworlds came from Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club. After a competitive bid process, SCRA (acting now as Worldwide Class Association for the St Ayles skiff) asked Ullapool to host the first Skiffieworlds, which it did superbly in a glorious week in July 2013.

Skiffieworlds 2013 at Ullapool

The St Ayles Skiff movement became increasingly international. Skiffieworlds 2016 was awarded by SCRA to SLLP, and hosted on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

Strangford (Photo: Allan Robertson)

SkiffieWorlds 2019 was held in a July week in Stranraer.  It was attended by more than 30,000 spectators.  It featured over 1,500 athletes and the economic impact on the area of the event has been independently assessed at between £3.5million and £4million. SCRA is passing the responsibility for awarding and organising SkiffieWorlds to a new body, St Ayles Skiff International (SASI), who will announce in due course where SkiffieWorlds 2022 will be held.

St Ayles Skiff International agreement at Stranraer

register of the St Ayles that have been launched can be found elsewhere on this site.  Also check our clubfinder to see if there is a skiff near you.

With the formation of other national class associations, and St Ayles Skiff International, SCRA can concentrate more on the functions that it performs for its member clubs closer to home. The sport of fixed seat rowing continues to grow in Scotland, with 80 or so member clubs of the SCRA, with another 20 or so SYRA clubs, giving the opportunity for thousands to participate in fixed seat rowing every year. A variety of fixed seat boats are now in use, with Teifi Skiffs, Cobbles, Jollyboats, Celtic Longboats, Pilot Gigs joining the St Ayles Skiffs and Shetland Yoals at events such as Castle to Crane. The SCRA Picnic Class continues to grow, with a championship race at the Freshwater Sprints each year.

It is, of course, a bit of a shame that we are celebrating our 10th Birthday at a time when no one is out on the water in St Ayles Skiffs because of a global pandemic. Our major birthday celebration is Rowaround Scotland, and positively it is going ahead. Please do follow our virtual progress on the RowAround Scotland website.

SCRA has come a long way in ten years, and continues to grow. The friendships that have build up in our communities and between communities is its greater acheivement. SCRA is not just about boats, it is about people, great people at that.

Many folk are owed thanks, from those behind the project that started all this off, the past and present members of the SCRA committee, the clubs and member committees, and all those who have taken part with enthusiasm and a real sense of community. Happy Birthday.

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Tenth Anniversary of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association

“Today, the 29th May 2020, exactly ten years after taking the position on, Robbie Wightman is stepping down as Convenor of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.
His passion for building a community of coastal rowing has been incredible and we speak for the many when we say just how grateful we are for all his hard work. Over the last ten years we have built lots of boats, we have visited places we may never have visited, we may have taken up a new sport or ignited an old one, we have participated in World Championships (pretty cool, right?!), ceilidh danced, raced in regattas, enjoyed being out on the water, seen some wildlife and met some pretty incredible people. All thanks to Coastal Rowing. We could say so much more as to how proud we all are but I think the video says it all.
Along with the help of the SCRA committee and my friend Sofia, I have put this video together to show the positive impact my Dad has had on so many of us during his time as Convenor. 
I hope this video brings you all some joy in this crazy time.”

Isla Wightman

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SCRA and Covid-19 – 24 May Update…… Not Rowing Yet

The SCRA committee are considering the Scottish Government phases for coming out of lockdown. They are consulting with others with regard to what this may mean for rowers. What is clear is that normal club activity of going out on the sea with club mates in a St Ayles Skiff cannot resume in phase 1. The committee are intending to publish guidance for all. It is recognised that with care, resumption of on water activities in single person boats, or in boats where all are members of one household, may be appropriate when phase 1 is initiated.

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SCRA – “Kindness Matters”

We all agree that rowing is good for our mental health. The sense of openness and being at one with the elements, the chance to be with other like-minded people and the buzz of physical exercise, are all things that have a positive impact on our wellbeing. Many people gravitate towards rowing clubs to capture those feelings, to feel a sense of belonging, for friendships and laughs. So, being without that for the last couple of months has no doubt taken its toll on a few of us.


Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme running through this is “Kindness Matters”. The level of kindness we have in our coastal rowing community is something to be truly proud of. So, if you aren’t already doing so, how about marking this week by checking in on your fellow club members and letting them you know you care? Or sharing stories, photographs etc that help remind people about all the adventures you’ve had together – and will continue to have in the near future? Whatever you do, it will matter to someone.

Stay strong, look after yourselves and each other and don’t be afraid to ask for help, nor to offer it.

For further information and support, please check out the following:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health
https://www.samh.org.uk/find-help

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SCRA 12 May 2020: Not Yet Time to Return to the Water

Current Scottish Government advice is to protect yourself and others:

  • stay at home
  • only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands regularly                
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs should continue to follow the advice of the Scottish Government, which at the current time precludes a return to rowing in our wonderful St Ayles Skiffs. Our clubs are all very community minded, and understand that the restrictions on their normal activities are for the benefit of the whole community. Any pronouncements of the Westminster government with regard to permissible activity do not apply to activities in Scotland and should be ignored by Scottish Clubs.

The SCRA committee continues to monitor Scottish Government advice, and is endeavouring to work with other organisations to prepare for the stepdowns in lockdown that will come in due course. We are currently consulting clubs on steps that could be taken, when rowing is once again possible, to reduce the risk of community transmission of the virus.

We send our thanks and best wishes to the key workers who are working hard for the benefit of others. We send our best wishes to those who have been affected by the virus, and our condolences to families who have been bereaved. We hope that everyone in our community stays well, is able to enjoy exercising outside on dry land, and is able to join us back on the water as soon it is prudent to do so.

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SCRA: Change of Convenor

Robbie Wightman has been convenor of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association since the organisation was founded. Robbie is going to formally step down from that role 10 years after taking it on. In accordance with clause 6.3 of the SCRA constitution, the recent meeting of the committee of the SCRA appointed Stuart Mack to take over the role. The hand over will take place on 29 May 2020, the tenth anniversary of the Association. All official SCRA correspondence should continue to be sent to the secretary.

Stuart Mack (centre with dark glasses) and Robbie Wigthman (right with white tee shirt) along with the majority of the SCRA committee, meeting at Loch Tummel for a weekend in September. Photo by Wendy Clements

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Covid-19 Support Grants

Some (but not many) SCRA affiliated clubs are potentially eligible for Scottish Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) business support grants. To be eligible, clubs need to have premises attracting a ratable value.

Scottish Government have introduced two grant schemes to help owners of non-domestic properties deal with the impact of coronavirus,. The Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grants provides £25,000 grants for businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000. The Small Business Support Grants provides £10,000 grant for clubs with a rateable value of £18,000 or under. These are grants not loans and do not need to be repaid. The grants are not ‘means tested’ i.e. an applicant does not need to evidence the financial impact of the pandemic on their business. However they are only available to clubs with premises attracting a ratable value.

Full details of these grants are available at: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/grants-to-help-businesses-during-coronavirus/

For detail of wider advice and support for sports clubs and community organisations visit the SportScotland website:

  • Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grant: Sports clubs can apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. The website includes a list of types of properties which are or are not eligible. The list of eligibility covers many types of sport clubs and facilities but is not exhaustive. If eligibility is not clear, encourage clubs to consider applying.
  • Small Business Support Grant: For this scheme clubs need to be claiming Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), Rural Rates Relief, or Discretionary Sports Relief. The website includes a list of types of properties which are or are not eligible. The list of eligibility covers many types of sport clubs and facilities but is not exhaustive. If eligibility is not clear, encourage clubs to consider applying. If a club has more than one property they should consider the guidance around the overall cap on property value for SBBS and the guidance on claiming grants for more than one property.

Clubs are responsible for considering their own eligibility and should read the guidance on the Scottish Government website. Applications are made through the club’s local authority website, with the Scottish Government website linking to the appropriate page on each local authority website. The application is straight forward and clubs can apply for a grant from now until 31 March 2021. Local authorities will aim to make payment within 10 working days of receiving a grant application form.

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St Ayles Skiffs to be set up in Tauranga, New Zealand

In 2019, the Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust opened the Tauranga Boxing Academy programme for at risk youth, a programme based on a model initially developed in Wellington, New Zealand. Board Chair Craig Nees recognised the need to provide local youth with opportunities to be engaged in activities that provide positive health and mental benefits, as well as develop important life skills.  He wanted, through the Academy, “to inspire youth to believe in themselves and achieve dreams they never thought possible”.

The St Ayles skiffs, donated to the Board by an old friend of Craig’s, Mike Mahoney, will be set up at the Kilum Park Boat Shed in Tauranga which is close to the Academy premise. The skiffs will provide an exciting outdoors option for youth to increase their confidence, in a region renowned for its water-based sports – sailing, surf-lifesaving, long distance swimming, outrigger canoes and dragon boating to name a few. Building and using the skiffs rewards time spent in the outdoor environment and also allows key skills to be learnt including teamwork, participation and comradeship, to name a few.

To date the Academy has been an outstanding success. From 12 starting members in July 2019,  the Academy now boasts over 70 registered members, with a further 70 or so joining through associated schools or other alternative education organisations. Numbers are set to grow even more in the post Covid era.

 

Members not only learn to get fit through boxing, but through being around sound role models to also learn important life skills. Head Coach Henry Fa’afili and assistant coaches begin each session by asking participants to focus on and discuss one of the core values of the organisation. These are expressed in both the Māori Language and English, and are returned to  throughout the whole session. The values are Whakaute (Respect), Manaakitanga (Kindness), Whakapono (Trust), Takohanga (Responsibility) and Manawaroa (Resilience). Members are expected to carry these values back with them to their homes, work and schools.

These values will also be at the heart of the new education-to-employment programme that is to be established from June 2020, using the Tauranga Boxing Academy premises. The programme, called Inspire, Believe, Achieve (IBA for short), is integrated with the Academy in a number of ways.

The heart of the IBA programme is an education-to-employment pathway focused on building connections and the resilience of at-risk youth subsequently, supporting them to find meaningful and sustained employment. Partnering with local employers who understand this vision is a key part of our programme.  Youth will engage in gym activities while being educated and up-skilled to become ‘work ready’ with pastoral support provided during the 13 week pre-employment programme, their work experience and also during the first six months while they are in employment.

As one of the first organisations to establish the skiffs, the Academy are proud to be able to help establish a tradition that joins them to a growing world-wide community.

We look forward to updating you on this story when ‘lockdown’ is lifted.

Two of the Skiffs – waiting to go to their new home at Kulim Park, Tauranga

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