St Andrews CRC – Adaptive Rowing – Letter from Disability Sport Fife

St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club received the following letter from Disability Sport Fife – Adaptive Rowing

Coastal Rowing – a Sport for All

Disability Sport Fife recognises the St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club as a strong partner with members who are fully committed to inclusive practice. There are 300 affiliated boats all over the world. The St Andrews club is affiliated to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA).

The St Andrews club attracts members of different abilities from a range of backgrounds. Members build and maintain club boats and have the responsibility of lifting their equipment in and out of the water at every session. Members had their first introduction to adaptive rowing through the Newcastle Gateshead Club when the two clubs met up at the Great Tyne Row and shared their experiences.

The St Andrews Club members built their skiff, named the Blue Bay, to accommodate an adapted / removable seat. Key supporter, the St Andrews Harbour Trust installed the first phase of pontoon development that crucially provides open access for those with mobility challenges. The club also acknowledges support received from the Fife Countryside Trust and the University of St Andrews through the “rowing the waves project”.

Normally all equipment has to be made of wood but the SCRA committee waived the rules to offer full and free participation for adaptive rowers in regattas. Several non rowing disabled individuals volunteered to trial the adapted equipment and skiff modifications were carried out accordingly. An adaptive rowing group was formed of members with different skill sets. Access training was established for individuals and also as members of a 5 person crew. Club members learned by trial and error. They must be congratulated for their commitment and determination to include all communities, regardless of ability.

The St Andrews Coastal Rowing club members already include members with double leg amputations and progressive medical conditions that result in loss of power and balance challenges. Equipments modifications have to made to accommodate different members. In some instances the only modification that will have to be made is to schedule entry at high tide. The St Andrews Harbour Trust plan to install a winch and when that happens, skiff access will be so much easier for members with mobility difficulties.

Club members with disabilities have already competed in regattas and one member was part of the team that completed the great river race

Members hope to encourage more adaptive rowers to join the club and experience the thrills and pleasures associated with the sport. Access may take a little longer for some but members are patient and committed to an inclusive ethos and practice. I was informed by the club adaptive rowing coordinator Julie Hardisty, that a sense of humour is essential and that St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club hopes to encourage other clubs to set up local programmes. Julie can be contacted for further information at

Richard Brickley MBE – President Disability Sport Fife

Comments are closed.