Improve your rowing technique with SCRA

SCRA has worked with rowing coach Tim Down, and Raw Film productions to produce a series of coaching videos on the basic aspects of fixed seat rowing technique. We hope that you like them and find them useful. Many thanks to Newhaven Coastal Rowing Club for taking part in the exercise. To whet your appetite here is the introduction. There are six films all together. These basics are a useful resource not matter what type of fixed seat boat you happen to row. We are very happy for these films to be shared widely and freely, but would be grateful if you could acknowledge SCRA when doing so. Please watch for the individual films being released over social media over the next couple of weeks.

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More Skiffs Joining the Fleet: Alnmouth 12 May

There have been quite a few more skiffs launching recently. There are now 183 skiffs on the UK section of the Register of St Ayles skiffs. We have received the following invitation in from Alnmouth Community Rowing in Northumberland for you to join them for the launch of their second skiff.

Alnmouth Community Rowing second skiff is very nearly ready and we have set a launch/naming day!Sunday May 12th. In the fine tradition of the skiffie community it would be great to see you in the bay at Alnmouth, Northumberland.  We would love to be able to launch the newest member among the assembled fleet on the water.  So do please come if you can and definitely bring boats with you!Details are still being worked up but there will be a short ceremony around 3pm so ideally you will be able to get down here in good time before that and stay on for a bit too.  We will communicate more details nearer the time.  Obviously the weather and sea gods may conspire against us, and unfortunately the tide will be low.  At the very least we will get her wet even if there is no rowing in company and all that.We are very much looking forward to it, and hope you can join us.  It would help the admin if you could let us know you intend to join us; please email to Dave

Launch of Alnmouth’s First Skiff

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See You at Skiffieworlds?

We look forward to welcoming the following clubs the the World Championships for the St Ayles Skiff, being held at Stranraer in July 2019. Entries from Tasmania and USA are also in the course of being processed. If you don’t see the name of your club on this list, offer to assist your stressed club captain with any admin. There have been one or two electronic glitches. If you think you have entered, but your name is not on this list, please contact the organisers. You should have received an e mail confriming receipt of your entries….. with details about the raffle to win a car! The organisers really want to see the entries come in ASAP to help with their planning. It is going to be great and we look forward to seeing all the clubs below, and hopefully a few more, there.

All Aboard Watersport – England
Alnmouth Community Rowing – England
Arran CRC
Ayle of Quint Skiff Club – Canada
Broughty Ferry Boating
Bunillidh RC
Catterline CRC
Crail RC
Cumbrae CRC
Dundrum CRC – Northern Ireland
Eastern ACRC
Eskmuthe Rowing Club
Findhorn CRC
Firth of Clyde RC
Gourdon CRC
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, USA
Living Boat Trust – Tasmania
North Queensferry CRC
Orkney RC
Strangford CRC – Northern Ireland
Queensferry CRC
St Andrews CRC
Troon CRC
Ullapool CRC
WSV Woudrichem, Holland

Strangford (Photo: Allan Robertson)
Skiffieworlds2013 at Ullapool

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Worlds – Entries Please and Volunteers for Umpiring etc

We hope that everyone is looking forward to Skiffieworlds at Stranraer as much as we are. The organisers are issuing two special pleas.

The first is to get your full entries in please. There is nothing as cheery as seeing the entries flood in. We had 70 expressions of interest of those intending to enter….. it would be good to convert them all into full entries before the deadline of Fifth May, and the sooner the better to keep the organisers excited. So, please get your entries in!

Secondly, we need to recruit volunteers who are going to help make the whole event the friendly, happy and efficient event that we all want it to be. If every club could supply three or four volunteers, that should be us most of the way there. There is a general call out for volunteers on the Skiffieworlds website. For general volunteering please contact Stranraer directly.

However for the umpire roles, it we would be grateful if you could let one of the Chief Umpires know of your availability by e mailing to advise what umpiring roles you would be happy to fulfill (eg Boat Umpire, Beachmaster, Start/ Finish Umpire and Assistant,Runner, Computer Genius…..although we will settle for competent rather than genius….. all to help with the timing and publishing of results). Please also let us know what days you will be available (as hopefully by now you will know what events, if any, you have made it through your club’s rigorous selection criteria to row in.) Volunteering is rewarding in itself, and without the commitment of a whole lot of folk we will not be able to run the event. So thanks in advance!

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Troon Expand Fleet with Wemyss Skiff “Lady Isle”

Troon Coastal Rowing Club launched their club built Wemyss skiff on the 30th March 2019. After a ballot of club members the skiff was named “Lady Isle”. Prestwick Coastal Rowing Club and Carrick Coastal Rowing Club along with Troon’s own two St Ayles Skiffs welcomed “Lady Isle” into the water.

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Western Isles Series

Two regattas are signed up as part of the Western Isles series. It is hoped that a third may be added. Western Isles based boats should try to attend both, and visitors are very welcome to bring along their skiffs and to experience the events (ceilidhs after each of them). There is an upper limit on numbers of entries, so get in contact sooner rather than later. See the posters below for Stornoway(1 June) and Tarbert (27 July) events, complete with contact information. It is great to have a series in the Western Isles, where there are now so many skiffs, so please do try to support the events if you can.

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SCRA Life Jacket Guidance

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association’s Rules of Racing insist that Personal Flotation Devices (eg Lifejackets) must be worn by all crew members whenever they are on the water on a race day. Most, perhaps even all, clubs also insist on the wearing of PFD during training or recreation outings in club owned boats.  They choice of PFD, fit and maintainance remain the responsibility of the individual and their club. However here are some tips which we hope you you will find useful.

Harness Style Life-Jacket

This is the most commonly used type of PFD in coastal rowing. An inflatable bladder is stored inside a cover that will pop open when the bladder is inflated. The bladder is secured to a webbing arrangement which goes over the shoulder and has a buckle around the waist. Even uninflated, this type of life jacket is useful in a rescue situation as it gives hand holds to for a rescuer to use when hauling a casualty aboard a rescue boat.

A harness style life-jacket can be either auto-inflate (a device in the firing mechanism will cause the life jacket to inflate when it is submerged in the water), or manual inflate (a toggle attached to the firing mechanism has to be pulled by the casualty before the life jacket will inflate and help at all with buoyancy. An unconscious casualty cannot manually inflate a life jacket, which is why some prefer auto-inflation. However if you are trapped under an upturned skiff you will be hampered in getting clear of the skiff if your life jacket has inflated, which is why at least one club has moved entirely from auto-inflate to manual following a broaching incident. SCRA has a video of a life jacket being deployed.

Foam cell buoyancy aid: This is a waistcoat style, which relies on the material within it to support the rower in the water. It will have less buoyancy that a full life jacket, and will not cause an unconscious casualty to float with their face above water. Particularly for the younger rower it can give a better fit, and does not rely on any other actions or parts to start working. It is easier to swim and self rescue wearing a buoyancy aid than a fully inflated life jacket.

“Bumbag” or “Pouch” or “belt pack” Lifejacket

Many rowers like these life jackets because they are less likely to get in the way of the rowing stroke. However properly worn, the pouch should be at the front and not the back. They are more complicated to deploy, at a time when complication may be the last thing that is needed.

Pouch Style Lifejacket

 It requires to be pulled over the head at the point when it is needed. It is not clear whether this must be done before or after inflation.  Users should ensure that they are clear as to how a lifejacket should be used before putting it on. The bladder of the pouch type is not strapped down to the back of the wearer’s waist belt like other lifejackets, and is held from popping off the wearer’s head only by the tightness of its fit and the the angle of the wearer’s head, although in some types ribbons may be included which need to be tied when in the water.

Wear your Life Jacket Correctly

Fit- Make sure that the straps are adjusted so that your life jacket fits well. Test this by placing your fist under the buckle. If there is a gap between your fist and your body, your life jacket is too loose. You may have to adjust your life jacket fit as you take off layers of clothing. See the RNLI video on fitting your life jacket.

Crotch Straps help keep the life jacket in the correct place to have a casualty floating safely with their head above the water. Crotch straps should be worn if fitted (although some rowers cannot tolerate wearing them whilst actively rowing). Educate yourself on why a well fitted lifejacket with crotch straps is better by watching this video.

Check and Maintain your Lifejacket

Look after your life jacket so that it will look after you. You should check fairly regularly for visual signs of damage, and also that the cannister is in good condition and has not worked loose. The RNLI had a useful film on undertaking checks. Annual professional service is also recommended, and early replacement of any life jacket that is no longer reliable.


Individual rowers should take responsibility for ensuring that the lifejacket or buoyancy aid that they wear is appropriate for the type of activity they are taking part in, is checked and maintained and is properly fitted. Clubs can of course assist with this by providing policies, information and guidance, and take responsibility for checking and servicing club owned life jackets . Clubs should formally risk assess their activities, and use the outcome of that risk assessment to inform their policies with regard to use of PFD as a part of reducing the severity of identified risks. Clubs should keep a record of the life jackets they supply, when they have been checked and serviced and any issues identified.

A life jacket is useless unless worn, but is also likely to be useless if it is poorly fitted, or has not been looked after.

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Coastal Rowing on the River Ayr

It is always a privilege to be involved in exploring a piece of water new to the rowing world. A partnership of South Ayrshire Council,The University of the West of Scotland and Ayr Academy are considering introducing various water sports to the River Ayr. To help with this Troon Coastal Rowing was invited to carry out a trial row. On  the 7th March Troon launched on the river and carried out rows both up river and down river. They are told that they were the first wooden boat on the river in fifty years.

Robert Burns, reminds us that at this time of year, creeping up rivers can be a good idea to get away from the stormy seas of the firth:

The tide-swoln firth, with sullen-sounding roar,
Through the still night dash’d hoarse along the shore. 
All else was hush’d as Nature’s closed e’e; 
The silent moon shone high o’er tower and tree; 
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam, 
Crept, gently-crusting, o’er the glittering stream

Although to be fair, Burns might have been influenced a bit by drink when he was writing a poem describing the conversation between the Auld and New Bridges over the river.

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SCRA Youth Series 2019

Since 2017 a a new series of regattas for Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs has been established.  The SCRA Youth series was aimed at encouraging junior rowers, from ages of around 15 to 18 to take up coastal rowing and meet up for friendly competition and more.  Each regatta in the series is organised by an SCRA member club, and guaranteed to have races for boys, girls and mixed crews at under 19 and under 17 age groups.  The series is divided into two circuits, North and South, although clubs could enter any of the regattas they wished.

In the past regattas Youth Series regattas have been organised at Portsoy by Deveron and PortsoyNorth Berwick, Ullapool, FOCCRs at Largs, Portobello ( by Eastern ARC) and Avoch.

We are very proud of our young rowers, and would really like to see clubs supporting them and this regatta series for another year.  Most regattas struggle to put on more than one or two junior races, just because of the need to fit races into a tight schedule.  The youth series has allowed clubs to bring much larger numbers of juniors along to events.

Youth Series Racing at North Berwick on a pursuit course

If your club would like to host one of the youth series regattas for 2019, please get in touch ASAP with Cameron Hughes of the SCRA committee on .  The wider rowing community and the juniors in particular will appreciate your support.  Guidance on involving youngsters in your club is available elsewhere on the website

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The Picnic Class Series 2019

Pick up a March/ April copy of Watercraft Magazine for an article about the SCRA one person rowing class, the Picnic Class. The SCRA Picnic Class Series for 2019 will consist of the following events:

1 June 2019 – Royal West Regatta – Races will use Royal West Sixteens (rather than your own picnic boats)….. However priority entry given to picnic boat owners. Contact Karen Graham.

15 June 2019 – The Argyll Open – Based near Tayvallich on Loch Sween there will be informal races in the morning and then a picnic expedition, probably to the stunning Faerie Isles in the afternoon. Thereafter the opportunity for an overnight camping expedition for those that want it. Contact Ben Wilde:

31 August – The Nith Raid – 10 Miles with a strong flood tide among potentially dangerous sandbanks. Racing against sailing boats also. Contact: Mark Zygadlo –

26 October – Freshwater Sprints – Mens and Womens sprint races for the Picnic Class Trophy. contact Robbie Wightman

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