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Tenth Anniversary of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association

“Today, the 29th May 2020, exactly ten years after taking the position on, Robbie Wightman is stepping down as Convenor of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.
His passion for building a community of coastal rowing has been incredible and we speak for the many when we say just how grateful we are for all his hard work. Over the last ten years we have built lots of boats, we have visited places we may never have visited, we may have taken up a new sport or ignited an old one, we have participated in World Championships (pretty cool, right?!), ceilidh danced, raced in regattas, enjoyed being out on the water, seen some wildlife and met some pretty incredible people. All thanks to Coastal Rowing. We could say so much more as to how proud we all are but I think the video says it all.
Along with the help of the SCRA committee and my friend Sofia, I have put this video together to show the positive impact my Dad has had on so many of us during his time as Convenor. 
I hope this video brings you all some joy in this crazy time.”

Isla Wightman

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SCRA Guidance for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits)

Following today’s briefing by the First minister, we are publishing our guidance for a return to rowing to give clubs time to discuss, plan and prepare for the potentially long journey ahead of us.

SCRA Guidance for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits)

This guidance is being issued following the publication of “Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis” (May 21st) and in light of the First Ministers Briefing (May 28th). The route map sets out Scotland’s journey out of lockdown in 4 key phases. As we are sure you will be aware, there is to be little change to the current situation with regards to rowing St Ayles skiffs. (The exception being a crew of 5 living in the same household, and in compliance with other published requirements). Phase 1 does lift the restrictions for solo vessels such as picnic class, or those that can be used by a household group, to get back on the water. However, these activities should only be undertaken after careful risk assessment and compliance with advice regarding hygiene, social distancing with regards to launching and recovery where others may be present and travel distance to participate.

The advice of the SCRA is to continue to be patient and wait until restrictions are eased, in particular, those in relation to social distancing. This will not be in Phase 1. It is simply not possible to row, complying with 2 metres social distancing, as the diagram below illustrates.

If each person has a circle around them of 1m radius/2m diameter, then to be 2m away from someone, your circle and their circle should not overlap. (If we were Victorian ladies wearing hoop skirts of radius 1m then we would not be able to get closer to other hoop skirt wearers than 2m.)

We are however, looking ahead to the re-introduction of on-water activities and how we do that safely in St Ayles skiffs, whilst adhering to Scottish Government guidelines and those of significant others, such as harbour authorities, RNLI, health bodies etc.

We know that exercising on the water brings enormous benefits in terms of both mental and physical health and our activities are often the lifeblood of our communities. If nothing else, now is an ideal time for clubs to take note of the most recent guidance and carefully risk assess their own activities in accordance with this, so that they are fully prepared to get back on the water once restrictions permit. You can read the Scottish Government’s “route-map” here.

Risk assessments may pick up things which means that clubs cannot yet return to the water, or need to make significant changes to the way they operate, before they do. Clubs should also take into account the views of their members and the local community. It is worth noting that the evolving Covid-19 situation may mean that clubs in different parts of the country commence activities at different times.

When we reach the stage that clubs can get out, we will need to change some of the ways that we do things. At this stage, revised and simplified draft guidance below is restricted to going for a row with your club mates. Taking part in organising events will require a different risk assessment and may not occur for some time after rowing locally is possible. To begin with, it may be useful for club committees to do a virtual ‘walk-through’ of a typical rowing session to identify and take steps to respond to potential risks. Here is some guidance which may assist with making safe decisions.

SCRA Guidance for when rowing resumes:

  1. Do not attempt to go rowing if you feel unwell, or have any symptoms consistent with Covid 19, or are supposed to be shielding, regardless of whether this may result in a row being cancelled.
  2. Consider safe management of those requiring assistance to get in / out of boats and whether this is possible within current advice and personnel.
  3. Use your own, clean equipment (water bottles, clothing, VHF’s etc). If borrowed or club equipment is used (life jackets, seat cushions etc) this must be thoroughly cleaned between crews.

 (It is the soap and thorough scrubbing and then rinsing that helps to disable and remove any virus, and it does not matter if the water is hot or cold. Washing-up liquid is as good as soap for removing the virus. The soapy water should also help remove any virus from your hands at the same time).

  • Be mindful of ‘contact’ areas on the boat such as gunwales, seats, tillers, including rope tillers, etc and ensure these are wiped for each new crew.
  • Wash your hands before and after rowing. If you wear gloves, ensure your gloves are clean each time.
  • Follow Scottish Government advice with regard to face coverings. The face covering is to protect others, not the wearer.
  • The “Test and Protect” contact-tracing app, may necessitate personal mobile phones being carried. (People signed up to this app receive a text alert on their phone, notifying them if they have been in contact with a person subsequently testing positive for Covid 19). However, be mindful that mobile signal may be absent in some areas.
  • Be more cautious than normal. You want to reduce the chances of others being called out to assist you until all support services are fully up and running.
  • Wash down the boats and oars with soapy water and/or disinfectant after the outing, paying particular attention to the parts which you know you have touched.
  • Wash / wipe down your kit when you get home, including your gloves. Wash your hands after your activity, and before you engage in other activity.
  • Further consideration will be necessary for those with club houses or undertaking boat building and routine maintenance.

If you are intending to take a picnic class boat or other small boat out, please only do so after carefully risk assessing the proposed activity, and at all times being very considerate of others and take extra care.   Remember that although what you are doing is probably not a club activity, any negative feedback or outcome will probably affect your club and indeed the whole fixed seat coastal rowing community.  Ensure that your local harbour authority are happy for you to use whatever facility you need to use to get on the water.  Follow the advice in the SCRA guidance document above in so far as it is applicable to your activity and always comply with Scottish Government advice re hygiene, social distancing and distance travelled to participate.

The future will be very different. Even into Phase 4 and beyond some of the hygiene and social distancing requirements may continue. Clubs need to consider the implications, such as more life jackets, access to cleaning/sanitizing facilities at their launch sites, etc. In the coming days, we will be adding to this post with examples of procedures developed by clubs, so please look out for these.    Last update: 28th May 20  

Scottish Government updates are here:

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SCRA and Covid-19 – 24 May Update…… Not Rowing Yet

The SCRA committee are considering the Scottish Government phases for coming out of lockdown. They are consulting with others with regard to what this may mean for rowers. What is clear is that normal club activity of going out on the sea with club mates in a St Ayles Skiff cannot resume in phase 1. The committee are intending to publish guidance for all. It is recognised that with care, resumption of on water activities in single person boats, or in boats where all are members of one household, may be appropriate when phase 1 is initiated.

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SCRA – “Kindness Matters”

We all agree that rowing is good for our mental health. The sense of openness and being at one with the elements, the chance to be with other like-minded people and the buzz of physical exercise, are all things that have a positive impact on our wellbeing. Many people gravitate towards rowing clubs to capture those feelings, to feel a sense of belonging, for friendships and laughs. So, being without that for the last couple of months has no doubt taken its toll on a few of us.

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme running through this is “Kindness Matters”. The level of kindness we have in our coastal rowing community is something to be truly proud of. So, if you aren’t already doing so, how about marking this week by checking in on your fellow club members and letting them you know you care? Or sharing stories, photographs etc that help remind people about all the adventures you’ve had together – and will continue to have in the near future? Whatever you do, it will matter to someone.

Stay strong, look after yourselves and each other and don’t be afraid to ask for help, nor to offer it.

For further information and support, please check out the following:

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SCRA 12 May 2020: Not Yet Time to Return to the Water

Current Scottish Government advice is to protect yourself and others:

  • stay at home
  • only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands regularly                
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs should continue to follow the advice of the Scottish Government, which at the current time precludes a return to rowing in our wonderful St Ayles Skiffs. Our clubs are all very community minded, and understand that the restrictions on their normal activities are for the benefit of the whole community. Any pronouncements of the Westminster government with regard to permissible activity do not apply to activities in Scotland and should be ignored by Scottish Clubs.

The SCRA committee continues to monitor Scottish Government advice, and is endeavouring to work with other organisations to prepare for the stepdowns in lockdown that will come in due course. We are currently consulting clubs on steps that could be taken, when rowing is once again possible, to reduce the risk of community transmission of the virus.

We send our thanks and best wishes to the key workers who are working hard for the benefit of others. We send our best wishes to those who have been affected by the virus, and our condolences to families who have been bereaved. We hope that everyone in our community stays well, is able to enjoy exercising outside on dry land, and is able to join us back on the water as soon it is prudent to do so.

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SCRA: Change of Convenor

Robbie Wightman has been convenor of Scottish Coastal Rowing Association since the organisation was founded. Robbie is going to formally step down from that role 10 years after taking it on. In accordance with clause 6.3 of the SCRA constitution, the recent meeting of the committee of the SCRA appointed Stuart Mack to take over the role. The hand over will take place on 29 May 2020, the tenth anniversary of the Association. All official SCRA correspondence should continue to be sent to the secretary.

Stuart Mack (centre with dark glasses) and Robbie Wigthman (right with white tee shirt) along with the majority of the SCRA committee, meeting at Loch Tummel for a weekend in September. Photo by Wendy Clements

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Protected: SCRA Guidance to Club Committees for a safe return to Rowing on the Sea (When Revised Government Guidance Permits)

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Covid-19 Support Grants

Some (but not many) SCRA affiliated clubs are potentially eligible for Scottish Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) business support grants. To be eligible, clubs need to have premises attracting a ratable value.

Scottish Government have introduced two grant schemes to help owners of non-domestic properties deal with the impact of coronavirus,. The Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grants provides £25,000 grants for businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000. The Small Business Support Grants provides £10,000 grant for clubs with a rateable value of £18,000 or under. These are grants not loans and do not need to be repaid. The grants are not ‘means tested’ i.e. an applicant does not need to evidence the financial impact of the pandemic on their business. However they are only available to clubs with premises attracting a ratable value.

Full details of these grants are available at:

For detail of wider advice and support for sports clubs and community organisations visit the SportScotland website:

  • Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grant: Sports clubs can apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. The website includes a list of types of properties which are or are not eligible. The list of eligibility covers many types of sport clubs and facilities but is not exhaustive. If eligibility is not clear, encourage clubs to consider applying.
  • Small Business Support Grant: For this scheme clubs need to be claiming Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), Rural Rates Relief, or Discretionary Sports Relief. The website includes a list of types of properties which are or are not eligible. The list of eligibility covers many types of sport clubs and facilities but is not exhaustive. If eligibility is not clear, encourage clubs to consider applying. If a club has more than one property they should consider the guidance around the overall cap on property value for SBBS and the guidance on claiming grants for more than one property.

Clubs are responsible for considering their own eligibility and should read the guidance on the Scottish Government website. Applications are made through the club’s local authority website, with the Scottish Government website linking to the appropriate page on each local authority website. The application is straight forward and clubs can apply for a grant from now until 31 March 2021. Local authorities will aim to make payment within 10 working days of receiving a grant application form.

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St Ayles Skiffs to be set up in Tauranga, New Zealand

In 2019, the Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust opened the Tauranga Boxing Academy programme for at risk youth, a programme based on a model initially developed in Wellington, New Zealand. Board Chair Craig Nees recognised the need to provide local youth with opportunities to be engaged in activities that provide positive health and mental benefits, as well as develop important life skills.  He wanted, through the Academy, “to inspire youth to believe in themselves and achieve dreams they never thought possible”.

The St Ayles skiffs, donated to the Board by an old friend of Craig’s, Mike Mahoney, will be set up at the Kilum Park Boat Shed in Tauranga which is close to the Academy premise. The skiffs will provide an exciting outdoors option for youth to increase their confidence, in a region renowned for its water-based sports – sailing, surf-lifesaving, long distance swimming, outrigger canoes and dragon boating to name a few. Building and using the skiffs rewards time spent in the outdoor environment and also allows key skills to be learnt including teamwork, participation and comradeship, to name a few.

To date the Academy has been an outstanding success. From 12 starting members in July 2019,  the Academy now boasts over 70 registered members, with a further 70 or so joining through associated schools or other alternative education organisations. Numbers are set to grow even more in the post Covid era.


Members not only learn to get fit through boxing, but through being around sound role models to also learn important life skills. Head Coach Henry Fa’afili and assistant coaches begin each session by asking participants to focus on and discuss one of the core values of the organisation. These are expressed in both the Māori Language and English, and are returned to  throughout the whole session. The values are Whakaute (Respect), Manaakitanga (Kindness), Whakapono (Trust), Takohanga (Responsibility) and Manawaroa (Resilience). Members are expected to carry these values back with them to their homes, work and schools.

These values will also be at the heart of the new education-to-employment programme that is to be established from June 2020, using the Tauranga Boxing Academy premises. The programme, called Inspire, Believe, Achieve (IBA for short), is integrated with the Academy in a number of ways.

The heart of the IBA programme is an education-to-employment pathway focused on building connections and the resilience of at-risk youth subsequently, supporting them to find meaningful and sustained employment. Partnering with local employers who understand this vision is a key part of our programme.  Youth will engage in gym activities while being educated and up-skilled to become ‘work ready’ with pastoral support provided during the 13 week pre-employment programme, their work experience and also during the first six months while they are in employment.

As one of the first organisations to establish the skiffs, the Academy are proud to be able to help establish a tradition that joins them to a growing world-wide community.

We look forward to updating you on this story when ‘lockdown’ is lifted.

Two of the Skiffs – waiting to go to their new home at Kulim Park, Tauranga

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Coastal Rowing in Viral Times

Lets not pretend that we are happy about not being able to carry on with our normal sporting lives during Covid-19 lockdown. Coastal Rowing in Fixed Seat Boats has boomed in Scotland over the last 10 years based on close social contact, welcoming new people into our clubs, working closely together to build boats and row them, and travelling to other communities to meet friends old and new . We love it, and are frustrated that we cannot currently do it! It has been a great journey, but exactly the things that are so enjoyable and the strengths of our sport are the very things which we must not currently do. Bide at home to keep your communities safe. We remember that many are making real sacrifices to help our communities, and others still are very ill or have suffered losses. We salute you and them by keeping our boats on the shore.

So what can we do in the meantime? Well you will be glad to know that the SCRA committee are well used to holding their meetings on line! We always do that because our committee is deliberately representative of all the regions, with reps from South West, Argyll, North West, Western Isles, North East, Fife and South East, and it is always easier to get together as a group on line than it is in person, much as we love doing the latter. We will keep meeting, and try to help plan for the elusive exit strategy, as we receive more information. In the meantime we are keeping the Calendar of Events up to date, and keeping going with RowAround Scotland, all be it virtually for the time being. So what can clubs and rowers do whilst their boat are keeping their keels dry…..?

An SCRA committee Meeting on the go…. bring your own tea and buns.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Follow RowAround Scotland, both the RowAround virtual map and the RowAround Facebook Page. Give it a like to find it easier to follow! Also available on twitter and instagram.
RowAround Scotland (Image Jon Gerrard)

2. Get yourself ready to go rowing as soon as you can! Check your lifejacket. Wash that kit that has been lying at the bottom of the laundry basket since Castle to Crane 2019. If it can be done whilst still socially isolating, do any little bits of maintenance to skiffs and oars.

3. Stay Fit! We can all do something to ensure we keep our fitness, and to encourage club mates to do the same. Some are using rowing machines or bikes to keep up with RowAround Scotland, but lots can be done with walking, running or cycling.

4. Organise virtual club activities. Shona from Anstruther tells us what her club have been up to:

“In association with the Boats Club, Elsie and Joan have been putting a weekly newsletter out to the members of the club and the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Just with little tit bits of news and updates. Keep fit – one of our members has generously donated her time to put on free Zoom classes 6 days a week – open to the rowing club and others in the local community. A Quiz night was a great way to pass an hour or two with friends and was such a laugh. we tried it with Messenger and are hoping to have more fun nights but will be trying Zoom (there are other Platforms and Apps available) next time, as it should be less restrictive. We realise that it does take a bit of commitment from those involved but is really no more than any other aspect of running a club.  It’s just about being creative and thinking outside the box. And anything that can keep us active (in body and mind) at the moment is bound to be a good thing.”

And Ali describes RowPorty’s lockdown continuity:

“Our Stroke Development group have devised ‘mindful rowing sessions’, framed around the SCRA training videos and requiring nothing more than a kitchen chair, a broom handle and a bit of focus. Shut your eyes, get rowing, dream of beautiful places and you never know where you’ll end up – probably still in your kitchen, but you’ll keep up your skills. Thanks to our club’s kayaking contingent, some of whom also row, members have been able to ‘zoom in’ on sessions about tides, trip planning and safety-related issues. Our inventive club members have also put social media platform, Zoom, to good use by setting up a weekly “literary salon”, where members come prepared with a piece of prose or a poem, including self-penned, and read these to others. Themes so far have included “Whatever the Weather”, “Boats, Boats, Boats” and “Beaches, Shores, Coasts”.Themed quizzes have also entertained members. We have a member who is doing the Row Around Scotland, from the comfort of their living room, replicating the sea miles on a rowing machine and documenting their progress with photographs of landmarks they have reached.”

Row Porty is part of Portobello Sailing & Kayaking Club and drawing on the ideas and skills across all our club disciplines is a great way of maintaining community focus and keeping members engaged. A lot of skiff clubs may not be part of something bigger, but it might be worth reaching out (virtually of course) to other clubs in your area and seeing if there’s anything you can do together. Whatever you do, be safe.

5. But don’t worry if your club are not in fact doing this sort of stuff….. we are rowing clubs, and some may find that waiting for the rowing to start is the thing to do!

6. Get your crew together for Castle to Crane 2020. We are very much hoping that we will be able to run this popular event, and entries are now open! Give yourself something to look forward to, and something to get fit for!

7. Check on your clubmates and other folk in your community. Someone you have not heard from for a wee while? See how they are…. and by all means send them this link. It is the people who make Scottish Coastal Rowing, people who look our for each other and care about their communities.

8. Follow and comment on Scottish Coastal Rowings extensive Social Media… keep sharing the good news:

Scottish Coastal Rowing Facebook Group – Our Forum with over 2000 Members

RowAround Scotland Facebook and Instagram

SCRA Official Facebook Page and Instagram #Scottishcoastalrowing

We Love Coastal Rowing

Castle to Crane 2019 (photo Steve Thomson). See you in September.

Looking forward to seeing you on the other side, but in the meantime stay safe and keep in touch.

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