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2020: Year 10 Row Around

It is a time of year for looking ahead. Of course many are looking ahead to Skiffieworlds, taking place in July 2019. We cannot wait. For more information about that Click on the Stranraer Skiffieworlds logo on this page.

However, some of us are looking even further ahead at the same time. We are very conscious that we have anniversaries coming up that we need to celebrate. Ten years ago there was only one Scottish Coastal Rowing Club south of Sumburgh Head (Royal West of Scotland ABC, who have been around since 1866). Ten years on, thanks to a lot of inspiration and hard work by a whole lot of people we have around SEVENTY coastal rowing clubs, and the sport is still growing. So we need to celebrate this remarkable story!

You can check back through the website to see the Report on the official launch of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project which took place on a remarkably lovely looking day in October 2009 at Anstruther. This in itself was a culmination of planning, designing and building. Following on from the launch the first St Ayles Skiff kits became available to community builders at the end of 2009. Building went on in several communities through that winter. They were aiming to be at the first ever St Ayles Skiff regatta. The big day came on 28 May 2010, when six skiffs were completed in time to compete in a regatta at Anstruther. The skiffs came from Anstruther (the prototype boat) Boatie Blest (first community built skiff to be launched) , Ullapool, Coigach, RowPorty, and North Berwick (paint still wet). Later that day a meeting was held where the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed with the six clubs who were racing being joined by Royal West of Scotland, Eyemouth and St Abbs, Dunbar and South Queensferry (and possibly others…… contact the convenor if you feel you have been missed out). Have a look at where our clubs are now on our clubfinder. But then the whole thing grew and grew and became a world wide phenomenon. Rather a long introduction but a reminder as to why we have to make sure we have a celebration. So how do we celebrate……? Skiffieworlds is coming up, and we consider that the celebration of the international spread of the boats. As for Scotland, drum roll please…..

We propose to hold a Year 10 Roundabout Relay around Scotland, hopefully involving every single Scottish Club. Clubs from outwith Scotland will be welcome to join in sections of the row. The event will be non-competitive. It will look to pull communities together, and hopefully inspire new folk to take part in coastal rowing, and indeed promote the viability of rowing boat based tourism.

Cruising on Loch Shiel with the Jacobite Muster. Photo Jon Gerrard

Our broad plan at this point is to be at Scottish Fisheries Museum on 28 May 2020, with a fleet of local boats rowing from there round the Forth and down to Eyemouth, then transfer over to Annan. From there to make along the Solway and up to Stranraer. The expedition will be split down into sections, with these the first two. The next section will be up though the Clyde to Kintyre. We will need a leader for each section to undertake passage planning and to organise the skiffs that will take part in each part of each section. The Argyll section will hopefully involve Islay in some way and will go from Crinan up through Loch Melfort inside Seil and up Loch Linnhe, before curving back to Morvern and Mull, also involving clubs from Iona, Tiree and Coll. There will then be an Outer Hebrides section, before the baton comes back across Skye to meet the clubs from Wester Ross and the west coast of Sutherland. Our outline plan is to have a road transfer from the west coast of Sutherland to an Orkney section, before a section going from Wick down to the Black Isle. The next section will be along the south shore of the Moray Firth, involving the remarkable clubs from that part of the coast. A transfer across to Collieston will be followed by a trip down the east coast, till we find Broughty Ferry. Then it will be a case of rowing up the Tay as far as we can go before visiting any inland lochs that need a fleet of St Ayles skiffs, and then finishing at the SCRA AGM. The baton will be opened at the AGM, to see if it contains a message from anyone.

This is all no small undertaking, and it is almost certainly not going to be something we will be trying to repeat, at least not before our 25th Anniversary! That is really why we are setting out our rough plan now, so that we can try to gather support and funding to make it happen. We need to appoint a coordinator for each section, and want that person to be drawn from one of the clubs on that section of coast. Each section will have a completion date, rather then being prescriptive about getting to a particular point at the end of each day. Our boats are small and crews must never be under pressure to depart if the conditions are not right. If you think you could pilot a section, or would like to nominate someone who should do so, please get in contact with . Similarly if you feel you can support the event in any other way, in kind or financially, please get in touch to register your interest.

Now, back to your 2019 rowing……….

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Best Wishes for 2019

What better way to start the New Year than out on the water with friends. Start as you mean to go on. Here are some of the clubs and rowers who ventured out on 1 January 2019. Best wishes for the New Year from Scottish Coastal Rowing.

Row Port and Eskmooth

North Berwick
Isle of Seil

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Festive Greetings

Plenty of rowing going on among Scottish Coastal Rowing member clubs, no matter the season. Here are some photos from our Facebook Group   posted by member clubs showing some of their festive activities. Please share your own, and let us know what you are up to for the New Year.


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Report from Ladies Rowing Race: Hurrah for the Fair Ones!

The Ladies Race, which had occasioned so much mild and exhilarating excitement among the members of the club, was a decided success and as Treasurer Nesmith-  the donor of the prize for the lady – said while presenting the prizes, that he hoped it would be the forerunner of many more such races.  The course was just a shade long for the fair ones, but they all pulled to the finish gamely, although several were within an ace of the last gasp:  With a little more practice and with a recognised club of their own –  which is being talked about for next season –  they would become quite expert at the art.

Mr James Orr started the races  and had the boats off to a fine start.  The race in the first heat was decidedly close,  Miss McInnes and J. Orr jun, just finishing half-a-length ahead of Miss Leitch and S. Smyth.

The second heat was if anything a harder race.  Right from the start Miss Miller and J.W. Leitch led till about two hundred yards from home , where the other crews sprinted, and Miss Myles and G.L Lyle and Miss L. Taylor and A.B. Moir gradually gained,  and the gun was fired with the boats in the order mentioned.

Half-an-hour’s respite was granted, during which time the ladies entered the clubhouse, and the first thing sought was a looking glass to see if their curls were in order! The rain up to this point had kept off, but just as the crews were getting ready to start again the clouds let loose and vapourised the Clyde.

Excitement now ran high, and as the crews neared the clubhouse, it was seen that the first two boats-  Miss McInnes and J.Orr, and Miss Myles and G.L. Lyle-  were rowing hard for first place.  Miss McInnes, however, with a long powerful stroke gradually got the lead, which she maintained and eventually won a very hard race by a length.  Through the generosity of a former member of the club a second prize was presented, and this was won by Miss Myles with G.L. Lyle as her partner.

Miss Horsburgh, with curls in order. An Eathar.

This and many other cuttings of historic interest, can be found in a great book called Old Clyde Pullers.  Send the link to whoever is in charge of your Christmas Present list.  Treasure Nesmith might be surprised to find now that just over half of us coastal rowers are female, that these women don’t need to have a bloke in the boat, and that they enjoy the same races as the men, curls or no.  Some things have not changed though.  The rain still vapourises the Clyde


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Cruising Log Joint Winners 2018

The SCRA committee announced at the recent AGM that the joint winners of this year’s cruising log trophy would be Dunbar and Queensferry rowing clubs.

Read all about their adventures and hopefully get some inspiration to get your own Club out for some adventures around our lovely coastal waters in the coming year!

2018 Queensferry cruising log

2018 Queensferry Appendix 1

Dunbar Cruising log Forth Islands(1)

Well done to both Clubs!


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Discounted Training for SCRA Members: VHF and Navigation/ Seamanship

Seamanship and Navigation are important skills for Coastal Rowers to develop.  Although inland rowers can get by with an understanding of good rowing technique, for safe and fulfilling enjoyment of our sport skiffies will do well to develop an understanding of the sea.  This is particularly so as we start to range further in training, racing and recreation.  We also need more rowers, coxes and umpires to be licensed VHF operators, with excellent radio etiquette.

With these goals in  mind, Scottish Coastal Rowing Association is pleased to be able to announce that RYA Training Centre “You & Sea”  are offering members of SCRA clubs  a special deal on the online RYA  Essential Navigation and Seamanship Course and an online VHF training course.  Members of SCRA clubs can enrol on the Essential Navigation and Seamanship course at the discounted rate of £115 per head.  The Course is delivered ONLINE, with the trainee working from home at their own pace. The course content includes charts and publications,  safety,  buoyage, tidal awareness, visual and electronic navigation, pilotage, rules of the road,   anchoring,  weather forecasts and passage planning.  Essential Navigation and Seamanship is an RYA certificated course.  “You and Sea” will provide course materials by post for members to work on, as well as access to the online materials, tutorials and test and the service of a tutor who can be contacted by e mail to assist the candidate with any aspect of the course.  An explanation of the course can be found on the RYA site:   . A certificate is issued on successful completion of the course.

The VHF online course is available at £60 per person.  In order to obtain the VHF personal license candidates will also have to sit an exam, which costs £60, payable at the time the exam is taken.

A code is required for the discounted price, and will be circulated to secretaries of SCRA member clubs. To enrol on a course email Euan C on

You & Sea also offer classroom courses, both at their base in Helensburgh and at venues throughout Scotland convenient for clubs.  They will offer a discount for these classroom options too.  Contact You & See directly if you would like to discuss attending a classroom course or bringing the classroom to your club.

SCRA would welcome feedback from members and hope that rowers benefit from these opportunities.

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Stranraer Coxing Course – SCRA style

With 20 would-be coxes from Stranraer, Girvan and Annan clubs, 4 skiffs and 6 instructors, the weekend coxing course at Stranraer boat house was certainly a busy one.  It was held over the weekend of 17th and 18th November at Stranraer Clubhouse. There were different oar set ups, rudder arrangements and a mixture of tiller and strings to contend with.  Not an easy prospect for the willing pupils.

Ali, Stuart and Babs (the old hands) had 3 new helpers from Anstruther, Audrey, Elsie and Shona to help out for the weekend.  After some fun ice-breaking the morning soon went in with Ali’s unique style of interactive learning.  The Pictionary (skiff style) was taken outside into the now sunshine of the late morning.  Common terminology, necessary boat equipment, VHF competence, launch and recovery were all discussed with always the emphasis on crew and boat safety.  Lots of coffee (thanks Tommy) kept everyone going throughout the day.


The afternoon session was taken on to the water for the rowing technique session, this had been requested to be part of the programme and everyone enjoyed the input from the more experienced skiff rowers.  A BBQ was then provided by the host club which all the participants enjoyed before going home to read up on the ‘Rules of Racing’ for Sunday’s session…..

(Preparation for the next day was also being taken by the SCRA instructors, after celebrating Babs’ birthday (yummy lemon cake baked by Audrey) by trying to work just who exacty they were?)

Sunday morning was back to business with Stuart taking the lifejacket session, more coffee and then rules of racing.  With the World’s fast approaching the need for a straight line and a good sharp turn were emphasised to the possible racing coxes.  Outside we went again, (more sunshine and favourable wind) this time to do some ‘land-based’ coxing which was to show how commands should be given clearly and there was even racing involved there too!  The coxes then split into the 4 skiffs and hit the water to do some practice, the instructors going in the bow, manouvering around Loch Ryan and the buoys which had been laid for the weekend.

After lunch the racing began. Now filled with enthusiasm and raring to go, coxes hit the water with one instructor per skiff as stroke!  A course had then been laid with 4 buoys from a beach start, to around 200m and then back to the beach finish.  Four races were run with lots of swopping around of coxes and crews and we won’t mention the last race which just ‘happened’ to have 4 instructors as crew and a brave Steve coxing them to the finish line……. thankfully first or they were going to keep going to Cairnryan!

Back to shed once the skiffs had been packed up for the evaluation session and any more questions.  All the participants agreed they had lots to take back to their respective clubs with the clear message to practice all they could before next July.

Thanks of course to Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club for hosting this training course, we’ll see you all on the water!



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SCRA Green Flag Awards 2018

We are privileged to row in some of Scotland most beautiful locations, from the remote to the urban, in rumbling seas to placid lochs. Over the years, our clubs have been at the forefront of reducing waste and caring for the coastal environments that we call ‘home’. Many do this simply as a matter of routine. In recognition of those efforts and to inspire others to do the same, the SCRA developed the prestigious, Green Flag Awards. A total of 6 of these were awarded at this year’s AGM, to great applause. The first 2 green flags were awarded retrospectively to 2 trailblazing clubs: Isle of Seil and St Ayles, Anstruther

Isle of Seil have been using their skiff, Selkie, to remove litter from the remote beaches and islands around the Firth of Lorn for several years now. Interestingly, they tell us that the vast majority is commercial debris from fish and mussel farms.  This year’s efforts include removing 100m of fish farm pipe from Eilean Gamnha which proved to be just the right gauge for the cox’s railway boat launching system! Recycling at its best.

Meanwhile, over in Anstruther, St Ayles Coastal Rowing Club led the way in terms of zero waste regattas. Not only did they buy-up their dishes, cutlery etc from charity shops to avoid disposable plastic, when the regatta was finished, they washed it and donated it all back again! That’s clever. St Ayles also championed the ‘bring your own mug’ to regattas, something so easy to do, that it’s become another bit of kit.

Isle of Seil and St Anstruther were joined by a further 4 clubs this year, who became 2018 green flag recipients:

Rowers from Girvan joined forces with their local Rotary club to remove well over the equivalent of 800 bags of litter from 9 separate beaches. Phew!  93% of that lot was deemed to be plastic-based litter. Sadly, they tell us this was up 23% on the year before. Amongst this, they found quite a few spent gun cartridges which they say gave them pause for thought!

Girvan rowers in beachwear

Musselburgh’s Eskmuthe, have been campaigning for better water quality and cleaner beaches for some time now. They have become the ‘eyes of the public, directly reporting any concerns to SEPA. As well as inspiring over 60 community volunteers to mobilise for beach cleans, they have developed a sprint version with their “2 minute beach cleans”. On that note, how many bits of beach litter can your club pick up in 2 minutes? Come on, we know you like a bit of competition.

Over to Arran Coastal Rowing Club next, who dispensed with plastic bottled water, arming themselves instead with 25litre refillable water containers with help yourself taps. They’re a right crafty lot, that – making their medals from hand made soap and hand turning mini-fenders from recycled wood. Who wouldn’t want to win one of those? Arran also tell us that following their regatta, the remains of the draught beer was ‘recycled’ by the committee. I’ll drink to that!

Our final award went to Glasgow Rowing club who joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society UK and Keep Scotland Beautiful for an epic clean up of the slipway and pontoon near the Riverside Museum, in advance of Castle to Crane. A total of 14 volunteers removed 38kg’s of litter including a large duvet (possibly from a water bed?!?).  The most surprising find was collecting nearly 2000 plastic stems from cotton buds along an eight metre stretch of slipway. These have been passed on to an artist, Littoral Art, who will use them to create a sculpture with cotton buds collected from UK beaches.

If you are inspired by these clubs, please organise your own ‘green’ projects and don’t forget to tell us all about them. You too could be the proud owners of a Green Flag Award.

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St Ayles Skiff Measurement Rules 2019

The 2019 Edition of the Measurement Rules for the St Ayles Skiff have now been published.

Following a review process the St Ayles Skiff measurement rules have been revised and approved by the SCRA committee.  They will come into force for all regattas (worldwide)  after 1 January 2019.

The rules should be read in their entirety, but the following points may be of interest.

We have removed the imperial measurements, and expressed all measurements in metric.  While doing this, there will have been some minor changes to dimensions, including that the stems outer face being limited to 25mm rather than inch and a quarter.  Fairing of the planking is discouraged, both on the plank edges and on the return corners.

There must be no plastic or metal on the oarlock fittings…..   expect this to be enforced.  The entire thole pin is to be inside the plane of the outer plank (no outrigger) and there is a new limit on how far inboard the pin can be.

On lifting rudders we are asking for a contrasting paint to show the correct amount which must be under the water, making it easier for umpires to check if a raised rudder is never the less within the rules.  Rudders must be attached to the aft face of the stern post.  The use of “beaks” sticking out from the sternpost for rudder attachments will not be tolerated.

A thwart goes from one side of the boat to the other.   Short seats perched on top of cross members are not acceptable, and never have been.  The weight of the rower should be borne by the frames, not the planking.  Therefore there is a limit to thwart spacing to the extent that the thwart must be fixed to the frame and not be forward or aft of it in its entirety.

The rule with regard to para-rowers is now set out at rule 11.  Any reasonable derogation from the rules is allowed to allow para rowers to row or cox against other crews on as near equal basis as possible.
The one design ethos is essential to the continued world wide growth of the class:  Racing is to be dependent on the effort, skills and seamanship of its crew rather than the skill and ingenuity of the boat builder or the depth of their pockets.  Builders and users must abide by the spirit of the rules to achieve the aims of the rules.  Thank you.

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Winter Sprints: Ullapool


In breezy but dry weather, on Saturday 10th November Ullapool CRC hosted a Winter Sprint session at the wee pier. Coigach, Loch Carron and Lochinver joined both UCRC skiffs in 250m dashes out of the harbour towards the wee pier. After a warming lunch of soup, sandwiches and cakes, there were longer sprints out to buoys and back, ending with a Le Mans style beach start for a round the moorings race. This was hotly contested with a very narrow finish between Coigach and Ullapool, the latter narrowly leading.

There was a strong youth showing, with both Ullapool skiffs fielding youth crews with a very ecumenical mix of Ullapool and Coigach.
Although the event started with a points score this was abandoned in favour of hot soup and standing round the brazier. Last year’s most promising club award went to Lochcarron, who handed it over to this year’s holder, Lochinver.



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