Stranraer Regatta and Oyster Festival

Stranraer Regatta Report 16th & 17th September 2017

Stranraer were proud to hold its first St. Ayles Skiff regatta. A small but special group of clubs made their way to the furthest south west corner of Scotland to the beautiful Loch Ryan as part of the South West challenge 2017. The regatta coincided with the inaugural Stranraer Oyster Festival which provided the opportunity for some interesting dance techniques to be observed at “the Bash” on Saturday night alongside 500 other locals and visitors.

Annan kindly brought 2 boats to enable extreme novice crews from Stranraer to “have a go”. Whilst the camaraderie and friendly intense rivalry was noted amongst the odd bit of crew sharing and minor category stretching to get more boats out for each race. Over 60 categories rapidly morphed down over 50, and youth to novice with consultation of the visiting teams.

Saturday was a pleasant relief from the gales of the days before but with still some short chop conditions (and least likely conditions to occur on Loch Ryan with our regular sheltered breezes from any other direction) of a due northerly 12 knot cool breeze. However, after bacon rolls, cups of tea at the Coxes briefing and some Boat House envy, Colin the local coast guard and beach assistant waded into the seas to help all the boats launch for the first race.

The first race started to set the scene with Boatie Blest (with help from St Ayles ladies) showing Killyleagh and Carrick the way and Sketrick just warming to the task in the races to come. By the time race 2 got under way clearly Sketrick had recovered from their long journey and were starting to get going with a close race for first with Boatie Blest coming a second only 5 seconds behind and Carrick in third and Killyleagh fourth. Sketrick and Carrick sat out the third race with not enough of the right kind of crew to convince the umpires they could take part, by now it became obvious that Stuart from Boatie Blest lives on the boat, when he wasn’t rowing he was coxing. Also, the deep technical discussions had started (which to the newbies of Stranraer was both fascinating and enlightening), “rowlocks or pins”, “blade length adjustment and gearing”, (Perhaps this coastal rowing thing has a bit more to it than just building a boat and going for a row ed? – so as Stranraer start to build their first skiff in their new boathouse next month lots of close-up photos started being taken!) Race four was a humdinger as the over 50 men took to the water and a ringer was spotted (Topher) in the Sketrick boat. The race was close and finally Sketrick held off the Boatie Blest challenge by only 5 seconds and the fastest time of the day at 13 minutes and 50 seconds.

Race five brought great excitement, you could nearly hear the whole of Stranraer stop to cheer their hapless brave Novice crew onto the water. The Stranraer Novice crew took to the water and were very proud to fight off Annan Novices to come a creditable 3rd, Alan Thompson had kindly coxed the Stranraer crew and repeated the favour the following day. It should be noted that Boatie Blest had finished so far in front that this was a moment when Stuart was seen on the shore, tea in hand watching the Stranraer team cross the line! (We have a lot to learn).


North from the beach to Ailsa Craig


Lunch break was well deserved and the chop was building and the drizzle decided to try and dampen the motivation of the crews, but to no avail. The final three races were going to be critical to who would lift the trophy. First the Men’s Open with Sketrick, Boatie Blest, Carrick and Killyleagh in that order, which tightened the top of the table going into the Women’s Open. But again, Boatie Blest put on a big performance followed by Carrick, Sketrick in third and Killyleagh fourth. As the last race loomed it was clear the calculators were out (although later perhaps not all coxes had read the race instructions fully to realise it was the best 5 to count!), Boatie looked like they had it in the bag and nobody could pass them but could Killyleagh catch Sketrick. It was again close racing but Boatie Blest stamped their authority again, Killyleagh did beat Sketrick on the water, but not enough to pull them up to second overall.

As the boats came off the water and the crews crawled on hand and knee up the beach, they could smell the burgers and sausages on Hugh Parkers BBQ, unsurprisingly many them found some alcohol too. Those staying conveniently on Roy’s clipper in the harbour rushed off for showers to cool down (really ed?) The prize giving came and went with discussions of the day, what had been and what could have been if only.


Boatie Blest with their prize

The Bash at the Castle hotel was the main event for the Oyster festival and many crews joined us for the party and were still seen dancing at midnight. Clearly the impending Sunday 5k “fun” duck race was but a training row for these well-tuned athletes.


Colin helping the boats with their Le Mans Starts on Sunday

Sunday dawned to light winds and a calm sea. The course was laid. The fun race started, each crew 2 minutes apart in reverse order of club results from the previous day. (“I like a good chase” was heard from a small Irish voice). The clock started on land with a crew member running 100yds down the front to a paddling pool full of plastic ducks. Once one had been collected they returned to their boat le Mans style starting from the beach and off to the furthest mark turning to Port. On to a second mark making a triangle turning also to Port. Finally, as they neared the shore again there was the “Super Duck” mark with a bag of Mars bars attached. Each crew stopped and collected a mars bar and finally returned to the shore and ran to the start with a duck and wrapper. To add some spice some special prizes were also on offer, “Best Duck Impressions”, “Most Notable Cox” and “Most Notable Teamwork”.


A happy Stranraer Crew after the 5k Duck Race

The results speak for themselves, again the friendship and camaraderie shone through as the Stranraer crew, a combination of the local coastguards and staff from Jewsons (who are supplying much of what Stranraer need to build their boats) could not start with the rest of the boats and was in fact ready to go after all the other boats were ashore. Not wanting to leave the novices out at sea by themselves several clubs reselected a second crew to re-do the whole race again!

Stranraer greatly enjoyed hosting the regatta and are now even more (was that possible?) excited about getting their own boats built ready to be competitive in 2018 and beyond. A huge thankyou to the skiff community for being so friendly and easy to host. An equally large thankyou to our large team of keen volunteers to made it all possible.

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Uist St Ayles Skiff Living the Dream

Bogadh ‘An Aisling Bheò’ ann an Loch nam Madadh, Uibhist a Tuath, an-dè.

Image may contain: 2 people, mountain, sky, cloud, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

Living the Dream from Uist launched to join the growing St Ayles skiff fleet in the Western Isles.  Photo from Liam Alastair Crouse, posted on Scottish Coastal Rowing Facebook Group.

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Exciseman’s Chase 2017

Pictures from Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club website.  The results from Saturday’s Exciseman’s chase were as follows:
1.Sketrick 34mins,
2= Killyleagh and Royal West 36 mins,
4= Carrick and Firth of Clyde 38 mins,
6= Cumbrae and Troon 39 mins,
8. Girvan 41 mins and
9. Preswick 44 mins.
Due to heavy seas the race was shortened and kept within Maidens Bay  but otherwise followed the same format, with crew changes halfway. The day ended with a Hog Roast and other refreshments.
The largest turn-out yet for the Excisman’s was accompanied by great weather and all seemed to enjoy themselves.

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Nith Navigation Race Results 2017

The 2017 Nith Navigation Race day dawned a bit wild and woolly, with briefing and bacon rolls in the Nith Hotel this year (as the cafe burnt down 2 days after last years race) watching the rain and the tide coming in, in it’s ferocious way.
After the usual busy start it was obvious that Skettrick meant business, as they rowed at least 400 meters down stream against the 4 knot tide then wound up to an incredible speed with the bow wave crackling more like a destroyer. They kept this up all the way, arriving in Dumfries first with all the other boats close behind having to use several arches of the bridges at the same time.  Annan rowed well managing to hold off the pack of skiffs until after the Kingholm Quay when they started to find the going a bit tough.
But Skettrick have set a great time for the 6 miles of the Nith,  48 minutes 15 seconds (around 8.1 miles per hour……  we love that tidal bore), not far off the current St Ayles record of 45;30 set by North ‘Queensferry in 2014.
This year all boats carried a sample of the cargo’s that used to be brought into Dumfries which had to be delivered at the finish, timber from Canada, Slate from Wales, Port from Portugal and Wine and Brandy from France and of course Tobacco from Virginia and many more.
The sun actually came out for the finish in Dumfries and after a break several crews rowed back to Glencaple to build up the miles before the Castle to Crane Race.  Crews then mustered again at the Swan for the prize giving……….. what a race with every crew putting everything in.
CLUB Total time Position
Sketrick 48.15             1
Killiley 50.05             2
RWS  Jolly boat 50.10             3
Carrick 51.45             4
FOCRC 54.15             5
Royal West 1 59.15             6
Annan 1 60.45             7
Renegade DNF
Annan 2 DNS

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Findhorn CRC- Their First Regatta!

Findhorn Coastal Rowing Club Regatta 9th September 2017

This was Findhorn Coastal Rowing Club’s first regatta with 10 teams entering from all round the Moray Firth.  As our sport continues to grow, we celebrate when clubs start running new events for their neighbouring clubs to enjoy.  We are grateful to the club for promptly sending in the following report:

Findhorn were joined by Portsoy, Avoch, Findochty, Burghead, Collieston, Cullen, Cromarty, Golspie and Chanonry. Many of the clubs got into the spirit of the day and wore fancy dress as well as some great dressed boats.

The conditions for racing in Findhorn bay were challenging with a very unforgiving incoming tide for the shorter races at the beginning of the day. There were a few caught up in a less than quick slick starboard turn rowing into the oncoming tide. Lessons were learnt in very different sea conditions compared to the open waters of The Moray Firth. However it was great to see the tradition of the regatta returning to Findhorn and many of the local spectators reminisced about the by gone days of the regatta, using the piers as a traditional start line. With the draw made up of head to head races between the clubs this made for interesting viewing.

As high tide approached the racing moved into longer events. I say “longer” than what was advertised to been 1.3km races. This proved to be a slight under estimation so we could avoid too much chaos with a single buoy turn for all 10 boats to race around. It was a grand sight to see such an armada of skiffs racing down the bay. Once the women’s and men’s open had completed, the mixed race and scramble race had a much more realistic 1.3km distance to fight it out over and gladly the single buoy turn was not the carnage we had envisaged.

With racing complete the overall placings were 1st Avoch, 2nd Golspie, 3rd  Burghead, 4thFindhorn, 5th = Cromarty & Collieston, 6th Portsoy, 7th Chanonry, 8th Cullen, 9th Findochty. With all Clubs receiving a commemorative trophy and bottle of Local Gin.

The event went on into the evening with a drumming workshop  proving especially popular for those who wish to improve their timing, and live music from the fabulous Boat Shed Band.

Many Thanks to all for entering into the spirit of the day and making it such a fun event. We are already looking forward to next year.

(photos by Annie Cheese and Iain Rollo)

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Great River Race – The full results

There were only 10 St Ayles racing on Saturday, with one using plastic oars so not counted for the GRR Trophy for the fastest St Ayles.

What that plastic oared skiff from Dartmouth did was to be first boat over the line by a margin of 2 minutes and 41 seconds in 2:32:52. The WSV Woudrichem Vet mens skiff was the next St Ayles over the line at 2:36:16, coming 2nd in the Veterans 4s, and winning the Jordan Boats Trophy for the GRR St Ayles competitors.

Third skiff in was Woudrichem’s mixed crew in 2:40:50, winning the Mixed crew trophy.

All the St Ayles results here.



Felton Flyer




Groot & Grut




Groot & Grut






St Ayles Rowing Club


St Ayles




Groot & Grut


St Andrews


Sandbay Century


St Andrews


Blue Bay


Kings Lynn CRC


Ouse Rewet


Kings Lynn CRC


Lynn Rewet


Though the Dartmouth crew were racing with the plastic oars which would disqualify them from normal competition, I have included their result here as a St Ayles crossing the line first, and by such a significant margin brings the skiff to the forefront of the huge crowds in London. It was also an excellent effort from Dartmouth in one of our boats that deserves to be commended.

St Ayles RC deserve a big mention as just before the start their rudder was attacked by a mooring buoy chain which snapped off its business end. The crew rowed the whole distance with cox Babs using a paddle as a steering oar.

Also worth mentioning were the thunderstorms which affected the race, shortly before the leaders arrived at the finish. These were of the intensity associated with tropical storms – fortunately the worst of these lasted only a few minutes rather than the hours or days being experienced in the Caribbean. Rowing in those conditions is not fun, though it could be said that Scottish Rowers are well used to rowing in torrential rain!

I spent the afternoon with Bonnie from Langstone Adventure rowing on the river bank, talking to potential St Ayles customers from Australia and South Africa as well as the owner of a kit in Kuwait (supplied from Australia), as well as numerous people from the Thames and its Estuary. Hopefully next year we will see a bigger entry. The success of the St Ayles on Saturday will help.

Alec Jordan

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Woudrichem Glory at Great River Race

Congratulations to Dutch St Ayles skiff club WSV Woudrichem, who had a very successful day at the Great River Race.  There were five Dutch St Ayles rowing at the event, four from Woudrichem and one from Heusden.  Woudrichem’s “Groot & Grut 3”, rowed by “Martin’s Dream Team” came in second in the Men 40+ category,  in a time of 2:36:16.

However in the mixed category Woudrichem went one better in “Groot & Grut 2” with team “Rowmotion” coming in as best mixed crew at the Great River Race on handicap in a time of 2:40:50.

We will post a link to the full results of the Great River Race 2017 as soon as it becomes available, and will advise which crew has been given the trophy for fastest St Ayles, which is awarded on age and gender handicap.



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Queensferry Crossing Royal Opening Monday 4 September 2017

There was a short notification period for this event but when the brief details were posted on the SCRA web site the notifications from Clubs wishing to attend came flooding in! Initially the Flotilla Manager, Rob Thomson asked that each pair of skiffs should be accompanied by a motor boat. It was politely pointed out to him that we had managed the 2014 Golden Anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge without such extensive cover and he relented allowing us to be escorted by Queensferry’s John Howell and his crew in the committee boat ‘Faithful’

Clubs arrived in good time and enjoyed a cuppa and a bacon roll at our shed prior to taking to the water before 10.00am in time to join our column at 10.30am. We had a total of 17 skiffs from pairs, Queensferry and North Queensferry, North Berwick, Eskmouthe, Golspie, and single skiffs from Kinghorn, Dunbar, Collieston, Portobello,

Newhaven, Troon and finally albeit a tad late a big well done to Eastern who rowed up from Portobello and joined the Flotilla in time for the big opening then rowed back after the event. I never saw them but was made aware that they were there. Well done!

After some mild jostling, we joined our column led by White Wing from the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther. It was good to have a blether with Dave from the Fyfie early in the morning. The mood was buoyant and the skiffs were magnificent in their column and on the signal when the Queen cut the ribbon we hoisted oars and made a great deal of noise with the rest of the flotilla. This mwas followed by the fly past of the Red Arrows. Always an attraction.

After the Queen drove over the new crossing to the sound of horns, klaxons and cheering the lead vessel gave the order to disperse to home ports and there was the usual wonderful camaraderie of helping each other off the water and loading boats back onto trailers. Back to the shed to avoid the heavy rain but who cared now! Some enjoyed a hog roast roll courtesy of Port Edgar Yacht Club. There was evidence of some skiffs having enjoyed a bottle of fizz although I was told it was found floating in the Forth!

An historic event and our skiffs and our wonderful sport were to the fore and gave such a good account of ourselves. I want to thank you all for your participation, your enthusiasm and your friendship.  Thank you to Rob Thompson for organising the event.

Please visit our web site and look at the many photos on the flickr page taken by our snapper, Barbara Agnew. Thanks Barbara.


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Nith Navigation Race: Notice of Race

We have another busy weekend of rowing events ahead, including the Exciseman’s chase on Saturday and the Nith Navigation Race on Sunday.  There is still space to join the Nith, and all crews taking part should note the details in the:

Nith Navigation Race 10th September 2017-  Notice of Race



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St Ayles Skiffs at the Great River Race

The Great River Race is a fantastic spectacle, with hunners of fixed seat rowing boats riding the tide from the Docks up to Richmond on the River Thames in London.  Every year there are some St Ayles skiffs taking part, and Jordan Boats has presented a trophy for them to race for.  The trophy is given to the fastest St Ayles on handicap,  rather than simply being the fastest over the course, so that neither age not gender will be a barrier to a crew winning it.

The Trophy is currently in the hands of Dutch club WSV Woudrichem, who have every intention or retaining it.  The club is sending three crews, one made up of juniors, one of men and one mixed crew.   A second Dutch Club, Heusden will also be sending a skiff. The two skiffs based at Langstone in Hampshire, Bella and Bonnie, will also be there as will Lynn Rewet and Ouse Rewet from Kings Lynn in Norfolk.

Fife is sending down three crews, two from St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club and one from St Ayles Rowing Club of Anstruther.  Given the links with the rowing the waves project, SCRA have received a letter of support for St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club from the Director of the Royal Geographical Society, Dr Rita Gardner!  She wishes St Andrews well for the race, and goes on to give advice that all crews should follow:

“The Society has a long tradition of supporting expeditions that enhance our understanding of our physical and human environments.  I would like to encourage all the participants to share the geographical stories of the riverscapes they pass through, while rowing the thirty one mile stretch of the River Thames from Millwall to Teddington, when they return, tired, but with a greater sense of wonder for this magnificent river and the city it meanders through.”

We will publish a link to the Great River Race Results 2017 as soon as they are available.


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