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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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RowAround Scotland 2020

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The Virtual RowAround was launched in Virtual Gretna last Wednesday. The first section’s virtual row begins on 4 April from Annan. see:

The section ‘pilots’ will be contacting clubs in their area, well in advance of their virtual row, and collecting information about the club and the skiffs, the rowers, photographs of landscapes you would have rowed through … audio files, videos, whatever. Be innovative!

We all need our dose of Vitamin Sea™️, virtually if we have to. Keep well!

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RowAround Scotland & Covid-19

Reluctantly, since the UK government advice last night, and discussion with Event Scotland, SCRA considers that the RowAround launch at Gretna and indeed, the RowAround itself, is ‘unnecessary social contact and travel.’

We will be setting up a ‘virtual RowAround’ with the same timings, as we will all need something to keep our interest and spirits up! The actual RowAround in real skiffs will be resumed as and when we can.

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Scottish Coastal Rowing and Covid 19: March 2020

The situation with regard to coronavirus is changing dramatically and quickly. Any advice from SCRA committee could become out of date very quickly. This post reflects the position at 16 March 2020. In deciding what to do in response to the pandemic, rowing clubs and individuals should follow the regularly updated advice of:

NHS Scotland “inform”

UK Government

The only SCRA organised event coming up is RowAround Scotland. We are going to have to adapt that to the current situation. Please stand by for further announcements with regard to that.

Clubs will need to review their own activities to minimise or eliminate risks to them, their members, and their wider community. Keeping some form of activity going, can of course bring enormous benefits to physical and mental health, even if the activity organised does not involve direct social contact.

It is hard to see how a regatta could still go ahead in line with the government advice at 16 March. It is not known how long the restrictions will apply, and the situation may improve before any of our scheduled club events take place. If clubs choose to cancel or postpone events, please ensure that a message is sent to SCRA, so that the events 2020 calendar can be updated.

Please do continue to do great things for your communities. Please also keep in touch with the wider coastal rowing community through the SCRA Facebook Group…. a welcome distraction in difficult times.

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2022 St Ayles Skiff World Championships – Invitations for Expressions of Interest

Clubs are invited to express interest in hosting the 2022 St Ayles Skiff World Championships by emailing the Secretary at with Club Name and Worlds 2022 in the title.
SASI St Ayles Skiff World Championships 2022
Host Criteria

Thank you for your enquiry and expression of interest in hosting the St Ayles Skiff World Championships 2022.
The bidding process is still to be announced

The Host Criteria Basic Requirement is as follows:-

1. The course shall be on salt or brackish water, out and back to be about 2,000 metres (or slightly less) there shall be a minimum of 15 lanes spaced 20 metres apart
2. The host shall be able to work with local clubs and their national associations
3. There shall be sufficiently sheltered water that we can be confident of running the entire event over the week
4. There shall be sufficient facilities and infrastructure to launch, berth and recover between 50 and 100 skiffs
5. Access to a large covered space for opening and closing sessions
6. There shall be sufficient local mix of accommodation for 1,500 people (catered, self catering and camping etc)
7. The host shall be able to work with local clubs and their national associations to provide sufficient number of skiffs to lend to groups travelling from overseas
8. There shall be reasonable transport infrastructure
9. The site shall be easily accessible for people to come from overseas, with connecting transport readily available
10. The host will be required to programme for a weeks racing and fit in all the race categories within that week (Race categories to be confirmed later)
11. Basic regatta infrastructure shall be provided
12. The host must be able to provide sufficient facilities and boats for umpires, officials and safety officers for the supervision of races and to carry out safety duties
13. The Host shall be able to provide a suitable social programme throughout the event including daily catering and welfare facilities.
14. Readily accessible spectator areas and welfare facilities for competitors
15. Waiting club areas for secure storage of kit.

For further information please contact the Secretary St Ayles Skiff International – Andrew Rendle email with Club Name and Worlds 2022 in the title.

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SCRA Regatta Organiser Course 2020 Success

Over a March weekend group of 24 delegates gathered at the Eco centre in Kinghorn to discuss all the elements of how to run a safe and enjoyable regatta. The morning started with a quick meet and greet and launched straight into a story from Wendy Clements on how not to run a regatta with excerpts on various events which had happened at regattas over the years. There was a quick Q&A for the audience, just to check they were picking up on the points raised. We then went on the hear from Shona Muirhead about all the aspects of planning a regatta, through the prep beforehand to on the day, shoreside and waterside, and then the final clean up with publicity and reports. There was more information about communication and the Notice of Race by SCRA secretary Andrew Rendle….. a full morning followed by a welcome stop for some lunch. 

A group of people sitting at a wooden boat in a body of water

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Laying the first course

Feeling refreshed it was then back to the learning but with much more interaction from the delegates who had to think of the pros and cons of the different types of regatta courses and how this could affect their individual club events. Chris Mitchell from Kinghorn then gave advice on laying the course and how to ensure the buoys stayed where they are laid. 

The delegates were then split into 3 groups and in 45 minutes had to prepare their own mini regatta to be held the next day. No mean task, but the enthusiasm was fantastic and what they achieved was highly impressive.

A group of people standing in the grass

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Coxes Briefing…. for one of the three regattas

Sunday started early, with some preparing the boats, others the buoys and the rest plotting where the buoys were to be laid. Each team then gave their coxes briefing, ran their regatta with the other two teams racing against each other. There was a prize giving at the end. Although short and quite intense, it was a great practice run for all the delegates and many issues were highlighted which they could learn from. Many were given the opportunity to try things they had never done before and a few have certainly found their calling.

Regatta Organisers on Kinghord Loch. Pic Eleanor Collier (SCR FB Group)

The final debrief allowed everyone to feedback and all agree that the venue was perfect for this event and a huge thanks was given to the Eco Centre and the Kinghorn club for their help and along with Elie, for lending their boats to allow the regatta to be run.

Andrew Rendle has created a Google Group for all the delegates so they can share information from the event and help each other as they prepare for their own events. Anyone who attended but hasn’t received an invitation please contact

Thank you to all those who were involved in organising the course through Scottish Coastal Rowing Association. Everyone will benefit from this course, not just the 24 delegates who attended, but all those who enjoy the new and repeat regattas on the SCRA Calendar of events. Please do ensure that your own regattas are on the list.

Please remember after your regatta to send the results (preferably with some photos and a report) for publication on this website, a permanent record of all those who attended or have an interest in our sport.

“Great course, really enjoyed meeting everyone. Thank you to all involved, including the catering staff! “

” Excellent course. Thankyou SCRA and Kinghorn. Great company. “

“It was lovely to meet you… & so many other friendly folk. Really appreciated the time & effort put into the course & its effortless delivery! “

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Passage Planning for Expeditions course

Comparing traditional and electronic hand held flares
The upcycled feather banner, and the microplastics trawl

Course participants from all corners of Scotland, and Bristol, braved the elements to attend the course on the Isle of Seil. Force 8 gales and power cuts did not stop the learning although we almost got blown away when having a photo call on the slate berm by Easdale Bay. As well as learning about planning, tides, charts, communications etc, we had an inspiring first hand account of three very different long distance voyages. Luckily the power came back on in time for the slide show! RowAround’s boffin-in-residence gave an enthusiastic introduction to the microplastics trawling project which will take place as part of RowAround Scotland 2020.

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Passage Planning Course 2020

The entrance to Cuan Sound, between the islands of Seil and Luing. This is the view that the delegates will have from the SCRA’s Passage Planning for Expeditions training this weekend! A useful reminder to them all as to why it is worthwhile taking into account weather conditions, tidal gates and sea state when planning a passage. Thirty four members of SCRA clubs are attending the course, and they in turn will use and pass on their knowledge and skills to others in the Scottish Coastal Rowing Community….. another great benefit of your club’s SCRA membership.

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The Fixed Seat Conference

Representatives from a variety of bodies from around Great Britain and Ireland with a passion for coastal rowing in fixed seat boats, had a very welcoming and productive meeting in Greenock at The Fixed Seat Conference on 8th and 9th February 2020. We looked at ways in which we could learn from each other’s experiences and share that experience within our own organisations.

Fixed Seat Organisations Brought Together

We discussed safety matters including recent incident reports. We had group discussions about rules of racing, competition frameworks, technique (including why there may be differences in techniques depending on the characteristics of the different boats that we use) and how to balance the competitive and the social demands of our sport.

It was a very worthwhile session and we can each take back to our own organisations how much we have in common, including the challenges that face us.

All those present were representatives of bodies which, amongst other things, act as Class associations for at least one class of rowing boat (as SCRA does for the St Ayles skiff). The Fixed Seat Conference has been asked to develop a handicap system to be applied when boats of these various classes happen to be racing in the same race. We were unable to complete that work and develop a “Greenock Yardstick”, but will hope to work towards that in the future. We will follow up this post with a note about the various class associations which we now recognise.

The Fixed Seat Conference will meet again before the end of the year. If you represent a class association for a fixed seat class that has not yet been invited, please contact the secretary of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.

Thanks go to Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club for their kind hospitality, and to all the attendees, some of whom had fairly difficult travel over fair distances in difficult weather conditions.

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