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Another Century reached.

We have had an interesting time over the past couple of weeks, with several invoices out for payment, and waiting with great anticipation to see who was going to get their money in to be the proud owners of the 300th St Ayles Skiff.

I am very pleased to be able to say that this milestone was reached this morning by a new club, on the isle of Tiree. We are expecting an order very soon from Coll, so before they get to race on the water, they will be racing to get their boats on the water.

It is a major achievement that after eight years we have this many skiffs either launched or in build. There are now skiffs in 12 countries, with more to come in the near future.

Thank you once again to all of you who have bought a skiff.

Alec Jordan
Jordan Boats & CNC Ltd

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Ferry Maid

Ferry Maid on the Forth

Queensferry rowing club’s St. Ayles Skiff, the Ferry Maid, out for a winter run before the Rail Bridge.


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Great River Race results & Photos

Seven St Ayles took part in this year’s GRR – four from the Netherlands and three from England.

On a somewhat grey day, I caught the skiffs passing Westminster from Vauxhall Bridge, then nipped on the train to catch them again at Richmond Bridge.

There were good results for the St Ayles crews – Felton Flyer from Dartmouth won the Mixed crew trophy, Blakeney came 2nd in the Vets 60+, and Woudrichem’s men came third in the Four Oared section. Felton Flyer was racing with Carbon Oars in gates, so would not have won the GRR Trophy, which would have been presented to Woudrichem – if the varnish had dried before we left Somerset on Friday. Another trip to the Netherlands coming I think.

Next year, we expect to see more entries for our skiffs, and there will be separate trophies for womens and mixed crews, and I’ll use better varnish on them which dries in time!

Alec J

















Southampton Boat Show

A few weeks ago, Robbie mentioned in another post that a St Ayles would be on display, and another built at the Southampton Boat Show from the 11th to the 20th of September.

As we had just moved house from Fife to Somerset two weeks before, the build at the SBS was more of an undertaking than I would really have wished, but with the level of exposure available, it was an invitation that I could not refuse.

SBS has over 110,000 visitors, and we were to be right beside the main entrance – for most of the visitors, the St Ayles would be the first boat that they saw as they came through the gate. I was therefore pretty keen that we would tell the visitors as much about the skiffs as we could.

Katya Bacica of Rowporty was commissioned to put together a short video and brother Leo to do the artwork for a new leaflet. Knowing the beauty of Shieldaig, I had made my way up there to take photos specifically for the display boards.

Oarsome Chance provided one of their new Scottish Maritime Museum built skiffs for the static display, Jordan Boats provided the kit for the build, Robbins Timber the wood for the hull and the building frame, and Black Bear Boating the epoxy needed for the build. International Paint have promised the paint for the charity that will be completing and using the skiff.

When it comes to building in a restricted space, this must have been about the smallest space ever for a skiff’s construction. The tent was about 26ft by 13ft, and not only had to contain the build, but also the base for the Wooden Boat Trade Association who had invited us. Thankfully all of the timber from Robbins was cut precisely to size, and the stems were provided by Martin Hughes at the Scottish Maritime Museum. Our aim was to get the kit at least as far as getting a gunwale strip glued, so that the hull could be trailered to a store until the decision was made to where it will be going.

The Show opens on Friday for Press Day, this saw us building the strongback and getting the moulds and planks all cut out of the plywood sheets for storage as there would not be the space for cutting out later. This unfortunately meant that there was not much for the visitors to see, but OC1 drew much interest.

Show Entrance

On Saturday, the moulds started going up, and by the end of the day we had something vaguely boat shaped. It is not that easy to be building a skiff while having regular interruption from members of the public asking about them – and there were plenty. Ricky Le Bloas from Ardglass was there and fielded any of the questions from members of the public.

Ian R

With this being on the WBTA area, I was able to call on the skills of Ian Richardson from Orkney who has been building beautiful wooden boats for about 50 years. The scarphs for the hog were cut in one go. Ian will be “consultant” for the builds of the two kits that have gone to Stromness, so he was taking a keen interest in the proceedings. By Sunday evening the stems and the hog were glued, and after a long while baling the display boat, Monday saw us fairing the hog, frames, and stems ready for starting planking.

The main problem with Tuesday was the weather. With frequent showers, work was interrupted regularly by a sudden influx of people sheltering from the rain, but we had the benefit of an influx of volunteer helpers from Releasing Potential, the first charity to be supported by Oarsome Chance. With Milly and Steve in attendance the work started progressing faster, and by the end of the day we had the garboard glued. At that stage, I felt that we deserved a bit of a break, and had a slightly earlier finish. The shavings from the hog and stems also provided a very comfortable bed for Mollie the dog.Molly

Millie and Steve were back on Wednesday, and so was the rain. By 1pm we had Plank 2 on, and the crowds had all but gone. The rain came down continually with the wind; planking in such a confined space with many additional people was not easy, but in spite of this, we had the third pair on by the end of the day.

Monsoon Wednesday

Millie returned on Thursday morning, and with her help and the use of a horticultural heating element to heat the laps, pairs 4 and 5 were on by the end of the day.

The heating element made a big difference to getting the planks glued up and I would recommend it with reservations for groups gluing their boats in barns and sheds over the winter. The main problem of course is that it can get very securely glued to the hull if you are not careful, so before laying it out over the lap, make sure that all excess epoxy has been scraped off. They can be obtained in various lengths from horticultural suppliers.

Heating Element

Friday morning was a little more relaxed with only one pair to glue which was accomplished with the assistance of the RP volunteers, then the stems in the afternoon. As the sun came out and warmth returned, I was able to talk to more people. There was great interest from many, and I am sure that before long Skiff clubs will be appearing around the Solent and Portsmouth harbours, and further afield.

The last two days were far more relaxed with fewer processes to complete. The great moment of turning the hull was on Saturday afternoon, with the press in attendance (well, they arrived a few minutes late!).

The Turn

The first lamination of the gunwales went on on Sunday, and the hull was ready to be trailered to temporary storage on Hayling Island until it can be moved to the recipient charity.
I feel it was a great achievement to have built the hull as quickly as we did. It was at the cost of a couple of errors that will require some fixing, but one of my abiding memories of the week will be the number of people who came to the tent over the last weekend to say that they were amazed that we could have built such a large boat so quickly. Interest has been piqued in a big way.

Ready to go

In closing, I must thank:

Oarsome Chance – for the loan of OC1 for the display boat.
Releasing Potential – for the volunteers without whose help it would not have been possible to get where we did
Robbins Timber – for supplying the timber for the hull and the building frame.
Black Bear Boating – for the generous supply of Epoxy.
International Paint – for the paint that will be used to complete the skiff.
Wooden Boat Trade Association – for the invite to build the skiff at the Southampton Boat Show, and the assistance and tips from their members.

Alec Jordan

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“Sunshine over Millport”

They may not have walked 500 miles but they did come from as far afield as Fairlie, Irvine, Troon, Greenock, Anstruther, Pittenweem & Port Seton to join Cumbrae in competing in the Cumbrae CRC Regatta this year. Again, another regatta on the West Coast blessed with beautiful weather and relatively calm conditions.

As with every year at Millport the event started the night before, with the teams arriving and getting settled in the campsite at the Garrison, described by one member of Boatie Blest as “Party Central”. Although comfortable dry accommodation was available at various hostelries and hostels on the island, the majority chose the field between the Garrison and the all purpose sports field as their home from home. Stuart Mack impressed us all with his recently acquired LARGE marquee.

Initial attempts were made by the race organiser on Friday night to establish the entries for the racing on Saturday, before a large number of highly tuned athletes retired to the karaoke at The George Hotel.

Saturday morning saw the arrival of Troon, with their customary pagoda, chairs, flags and cups of tea. All happy and eager to get racing.
A welcome sight to the slightly beleaguered “highly tuned athletes” who had been camped on Friday night. Final entries received, race programme written, coxes brief completed, umpires volunteered, the event got underway about 10am with the first of a series of head-to-head straight sprint events. The course was along the Newton Shore from Crocodile Rock jetty to the big stone in front of the Garrison, maybe 200-250 yards.

Results as follows:
Open Men 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St. Ayles
Open Women 1st St. Ayles, 2nd Pittenweem
40+ Men 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Troon
40+ Women 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St Ayles
50+ Women 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Pittenweem
Open Mixed 1st St. Ayles, 2nd Firth of Clyde
40+ Mixed 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd St. Ayles
50+ Mixed 1st Pittenweem, 2nd Troon
Decades 1st Boatie Blest, 2nd Troon

The Decades event required that the age of each of those rowing had to be from a different decade (Teens, 20’s, 30’s, etc.)

Due to local tidal and beach conditions the final two events of the day were planned as long distance timed processional races, very much as was run at Royal West in June. Crews waited “patiently” on the water for one member of their crew to run down from the Control Gazebo at the top of the beach and leap into the boat. They would then set off East along the shore line to the end of the moorings before turning South to The Eileans. The stretch between the two marks on the South side of the islands, kindly laid by Cumbrae Watersports Centre, kept crews on their toes, as the swells coming up the Firth from Wee Cumbrae were surprisingly large. Once round the second mark they turned North again in a sprint, with a following sea, to the beach. But the racing did not finish there. A member of the crew had to sprint back up the beach to the Control Gazebo where Colin “the timekeeper” from Anstruther clocked them back in. He was ably assisted by young Sarah Graham of Royal West who wrote down the order of returning crews.

As you can imagine the antics of some of the crews leaving and returning provided entertainment to skiffies and the general public alike. Think one boat lost its rudder on leaving the beach, during both races. A few folk fell into the water, instead of their boats. Heard that there is at least one VHF at the bottom of Newton Bay.

There were two races. The Best Crew category, where captains selected their Best Crew, and the 250+ Crew, where the total age of the crew (incl. cox) had to be at least 250 years.

The results and times were as follows:
Best Crew
1. Boatie Blest (11:54:36)
2. St. Ayles (12:23:56)
3. Royal West (13:40:27)
4. Pittenweem (13:58:02
5. Troon (14:34:99)
6. Firth of Clyde (15:10:75)
7. Cumbrae (16:29:02)

250+ Crew
1. St. Ayles (12:52:82)
2. Royal West (13:45:33)
3. Cumbrae (13:59:30
4. Pittenweem (14:50:56
5. Boatie Best (15:41:50)
6. Troon (16:12:24)

Overall Champion for the day were Boatie Blest, for the third year in a row. They were awarded the Newton Shield and a set of medals as well as bottle of Whiskey.

The overall results were as follows:
1. Boatie Blest – 284
2. St. Ayles – 276
3. Pittenweem – 198
4. Troon – 182
5. Royal West – 176
6. Cumbrae – 160
7. Firth of Clyde – 86

There were very encouraging performances by both Pittenweem and Troon yesterday. Finishing 3rd & 4th respectively in the overall rankings they also featured in 3 finals each with Pittenweem winning the 50+ Mixed event.

On Friday night there had been a request from some St. Ayles members that a Dolphin Show and Cocktails on the beach be included in the event programme. Not wishing to disappoint her pals Sarah Graham of Royal West arranged both. Just prior to the prize giving there was a performance by a dancing dolphin and then the presentation of cocktails for them to enjoy.
Sarah and pals

At the prize giving Cumbrae CRC deputy captain Austin thanked all those who helped out during the day from the town and visiting clubs.
With the kind assistance of Caledonian MacBrayne the visiting clubs enjoyed free passage to and from the island for the towing vehicles & boats. Thanks should also go to Emma Newton and her team at the Sail & Oar Festival, provided free camping and entrance to the Ceilidh, as well as the prizes on the day.

The friendly collaborative atmosphere of the whole weekend was great.

Next West Coast event is at Largs Marina in two weeks when Firth of Clyde host their regatta as part of a larger event being held by the marina. Racing will be later in the day and will take in not only the area near the marina but probably also up into Largs and maybe across to the Cumbrae Watersports Centre as well.

Adam Graham
(Photos to follow if folk send them to

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Islay Regatta 2014


Following on from the rowing events at last year’s Islay Festival of the Sea, Islay Coastal Rowing held the Islay Rowing Regatta 2014 at North Bay, Port Ellen on Saturday 2nd August. The weather was unfortunately not great for spectators but no problem at all for the gallant crews of men, ladies and mixed teams taking to the waves. Portobello and Mid Argyll rowing clubs along with Islay, launched their boats to do battle in nine different age categories. Using a circular course around the bay, at 10 o’clock sharpish, the first race got underway with the 50+ men, Islay coming home in first place with the fastest time of the day. As the rain started to come in the 50+ ladies took to the water, and using their strength and skill Portobello came home the winners.

Thanks to Jack and Bobby the racing managed to stay on time and the rowers worked their way through the categories.
Men’s 40+: Portobello
Ladies 40+: Islay
Men’s open: Islay
Ladies open: Islay
50+ mixed: Islay
40+ mixed: Portobello
Mixed open: Islay.
Only Islay had a team for the under 19s category so they raced alongside the 50+ and came in with a time of 18.25.

It was a great day, despite the rain, and made even better when Islay were crowned the overall Champions and received (fittingly) a handmade mini oar crafted by Jack.

To round off the weekend with our new friends from Portobello we launched the boats once again on Sunday and had a social row up the coast, past the distilleries to Ardbeg where we enjoyed some well-deserved clootie dumpling. We decided to come home via Texa Island, where upon the weather deteriorated and the rowers had to work hard punching into squally showers which made for exciting rowing. The homeward leg was true coastal rowing and the skiffs showed their remarkable design by taking no water, in what was some very choppy conditions.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped make it such a great weekend, especially Portobello and Mid Argyll for the effort they made coming to join us.






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Skiff Kit 100 Lift Out and Launch at St Andrews

The recently-formed St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club bought the hundredth kit in the early summer of last year, and has been building (directed by Nigel Ford and Les Hunter) over the winter in their upstairs clubroom by arrangement with the St Andrews Sailing Club (with oars being made by Clayton Hardisty in cooperation with the Fife Council Community Education Programme).  On Sunday April 6 came the great lift-out of the completed skiff, after much careful arithmetic to make sure it would clear the railing outside the picture window (already removed).













Virtuoso fork lift handling by Roger Coultherd (of Garden Mowers and Tools Ltd, St Andrews) lowered the skiff safely to the ground, and she lies safely in the Sailing Club Boatyard, looking beautiful, and ready for her launch.

The launch will take place next Sunday, April 13, at 3 pm  (high tide at the St Andrews Harbour Footbridge Slipway), with club members, friends and major funders (Fife Councillors and Staff, the St Andrews Community Trust, the St Andrews Midsummer Ball, the St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation) all present.  Welcoming our Skiff (her name chosen by pupils of Lawhead Primary School and to be revealed at the time) onto the water will be skiffs from St Ayles Rowing Club, which has given us huge moral and practical support from the beginning, and Pittenweem Rowing Club, which provided us with the indispensable building moulds. Maybe others? If you can, do come!! The more the merrier!!

On hand with a celebratory fanfare will be the children’s ensemble of the Fife Horn Union (directed by Margaret Douglass).

A landmark day for St Andrews and the Scottish Coastal Rowing project!!
Steve Spackman
St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club Committee

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Racing between Castles

Last year some of us enjoyed the Exciseman’s Chase which involved the foot of Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast. And again, there was an enjoyable Lochalsh Row in June. Well this year, how about a race between 2 Castles…a bit further afield??

Our Welsh cousins have just sent a promotional paragraph about their Castle to Castle race. It’s on 05th April – practically tomorrow!

Here are the details:

Annually we [the Welsh Sea Rowing Association] hold a race – the Castle to Castle, along the Menai Strait which separates Mainland Wales and the Isle of Anglesey. The length of the race is 12 miles, and runs from two famous castles both on the shores of the Strait. The race starts from the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club in Beaumaris, under both Menai Suspension Bridge, through the Swellies, and under the Britannia Bridge on to the finishing line at Caernarfon and The Royal Welch Yacht Club.

The race is open to any rowing boat class; we row Celtic Long Boats, as do most Welsh sea rowing clubs.

Date: 5th April 2014.
Start Time 12.30pm

If any of your members are interested or need more information please contact me:  elinspowell – at – or 07747600578.

…The tides could be interesting!

For those not familiar with this particular piece of Welsh coastline (see the first photo here for a glimpse of it), here is the relevant Google Map. Apparently one could walk the distance in something over 4 hours (no, not on water) – amusingly, they do not include a ‘by sea’ travel option…(must write and point out this glaring omission).

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News from the SCRA AGM (26.10.2013)

After a miraculously rain-free regatta (well, nearly) the heavens opened, and a slightly bedraggled Association convened early in the evening in the nearby  Kirk Hall, Callander – splendid radiant heating beamed at us from practically every direction – for the 2013 AGM.

Edited highlights and access to the main reports here for now – a full and exhaustive (and possibly exhausting) report on proceedings to follow.

The Minutes  of the 2012 AGM  were accepted as a true & correct record
Robbie Wightman narrated us through his Convenor’s Report
as did Topher Dawson with his Treasurers  Report
Existing Officers and Committee offering themselves for re-election were confirmed in post:
  • Robbie Wightman (Convenor);
  • Topher Dawson (Treasurer);
  • Adam Graham (T&D);
  • Ali Grant (Rowporty) (coaching programme development);
  • Peter Ashe (Rowporty) (Secretary);
  • Stuart Mack (C&PS);
  • Barbara Waughman (Anstruther);
  • David Todd (Scottish Fisheries Museum).

(and Sue Fenton from Seil kindly allowed herself to be co-opted, subsequently.)

Then we got stuck in to the Measurement Rules Resolutions (voting record available here). This took us some while…

Perhaps strangely, there was no Any Other Business.
The Committee had booked the hall until 8.00 p.m., thinking that would be plenty enough. In the event, we concluded the business at five to the hour!
With thanks to all for their contributions, whether verbal, or by card-waving at the appropriate moments.

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Draft 2014 Regatta Calendar

As at 6th October the dates already submitted are as below. Please get your dates to Adam Graham at prior to 19th October.

Date Venue Club
10-May-14 Anstruther St Ayles RC
17-May-14 Annan Annan CRC
17-May-14 Achiltibuie Coigach
18-May-14 Achiltibuie Coigach
7-Jun-14 Greenock Royal West
14-Jun-14 Troon Troon CRC
28-Jun-14 Portsoy Boat Festival
29-Jun-14 Portsoy Boat Festival
11-Jul-14 Loch Broom UCRC
12-Jul-14 Loch Broom UCRC
13-Jul-14 Loch   Broom UCRC
24-Jul-13 Glasgow GalGael
25-Jul-13 Glasgow Galgael
26-Jul-14 Glasgow Galgael
27-Jul-14 Glasgow Galgael
2-Aug-14 Collieston Collieston ORC
9-Aug-14 Cumbrae Cumbrae
10-Aug-14 Cumbrae Cumbrae
23-Aug-14 North Berwick NBRC
6-Sep-14 Queensferry QCRC / NQCRC
7-Sep-14 Queensferry
13-Sep-14 Queensferry QCRC / NQCRC
20-Sep-14 Tyne
27-Sep-14 London
4-Oct-14 Various TBC Regional groups
25-Oct-14 TBC SCRA Freshwater


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