Everyone’s a Winner

Last night, at a packed awards ceremony in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Collieston Offshore Rowing Club were named Club of the Year 2014, for outstanding sporting achievment.

Coastal rowing in a St. Ayles Skiff presented us with a unique perspective on achievment – just like you, we raised the funds for the kit, we built the skiff, we row the skiff. But there is so much more, isn’t there, to skiffing? Our nomination rewarded our inclusivity across our community – encouraging participation from our Under 16’s crew to our 60+ crew, embracing all genders, ethnicities and abilities. Our St. Ayles Skiff has introduced new and equal opportunity for physical activity and social inclusion in Collieston, especially in harder to reach groups including our older residents, women and girls.

Collieston Girls @Tobermory 2014

Since it’s foundation, the rowing club has been life changing for many folk – within our nomination we spoke about our increased individual and community wellbeing. Feedback from members is testament to the positive impact the club is having on the community. Tracy Coxon addressed a ‘thank you’ to the club recently –

“Dear all,
Just a wee note to say THANKS to CORC. This year has been amazing and CORC
has been so beneficial for me. I have got to know people that used to be just faces in
the village, achieved one of my dreams – canoeing the Ythan, seen Collieston from
the sea, and rowed with people from other clubs. I love the carmaraderie of being in a
crew and the motivational hell that is CORCfit; I’ve even grown some muscles! For
me, CORC has made Collieston come to life, so thanks to all involved.”

From Dave Huston, another member –
“I didn’t realise anyone was paying us any attention until we launched the Redsocks
and most of the village turned out to watch. The network of small villages that seems
to be forming around the rowing is brilliant too. There are loads of wee places I could
go now without feeling like a total stranger just because there will be someone there
to talk skiffs with.”

John Easton summarises the incredible community building that is going from
strength to strength in Collieston –
“It was a great feeling to be involved in the building of the Admiral Redsocks and see
how a range of ages and abilities came together with one object in mind. The sense of
pride which pervaded the launch was nothing short of remarkable.
Secondly, the club (CORC) has been the catalyst for an increase in social interaction
within the community. This shows in the enthusiasm for trips to skiff events, social
events and in the support which has developed for the winter ‘keep fit’ session which
CORC has instigated. This enthusiasm will be contributing to the health of the
individual and the community as a whole.”

Specific club highlights in 2014 included launch day on 22nd June, our first bumpy rows at Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival, hosting our inaugural regatta in August, and closer to home, taking the Redsocks to Slains School to promote community-linked learning and support their term theme of boats and boatbuilding, encouraging the extremely enthusiastic local kids to grab an oar, wear a lifejacket and remember your port and starboard!

Slains School Port and Starboard


The award last night recognised Collieston’s success  – but in the bigger picture, the incredible success story that is the St. Ayles Skiff. Most of you reading the above will empathise with my fellow oarsmen, and will have experienced the positivity that coastal rowing has brought to your life. This is your story and recognition for St. Ayles skiffing clubs everywhere.

Last night we had the opportunity to showcase skiff rowing, to the wider sporting community and have even encouraged Fiona Duncan, UCI Para Cycling Gold medal winner and Commonwealth Games 2014 Cyclist to come and try coastal rowing with us. Katherine Grainger announced the win via videolink, and had a suitably heartstopping pause following “And the winner is……….”.

Club of the Year crystal

photo 3(1)

Viv, with Viorel Etko, Bronze medal Winner (Wrestling) at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

In Collieston, as I’m sure in coastal communities near and far, coastal rowing has become a conduit for positive communication between parents and their children. Neighbours now row together. Seamanship skills and rowing techniques are being cascaded across the community.

We are creating community cohesion through sport, and feeling the benefits of it, contributing to community enrichment, healthy living whilst having some good clean fun, and always  working towards raising the public profile of the St. Ayles Skiff and encouraging more communities to feel the joy.

My thanks personally to Aberdeenshire Sports Council and Collieston Community Council for recognising the beneficial framework the St. Ayles Skiff allows for the introduction of sport for all.

Collieston felt priveleged to be chosen as Club of the Year last night and proudly accept the award on behalf of Scottish Coastal Rowing and St. Ayles Skiffies everywhere.


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