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En Bretagne – an invitation 25/26 May.

The first St Ayles in France, Skiffig Breize was launched a couple of years ago at the Brittany town of La Roche Bernard on the Riviere Villaine.

The Aviron Traditionnel de Vilaine Maritime de La Roche-Bernard was formed last year, and a second skiff kit despatched. The skiff is well under construction.

The date was chosen as it is the two days before the start of La Semaine du Golfe, which is a festival known to a few Skiffies who have taken the long drive south to attend a festival of hundreds of traditional craft in the very sheltered Golf du Morbihan. The festival runs from 27 May to 2 June.

La Semaine du Golfe – rowers welcome as well!

The skiffies of La Roche Bernard have issued this invitation:

We would like to invite all Skiffies to visit us for the weekend before La Semaine du Golfe on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May.
Camping can be provided in a private campsite,  or accommodation with local Skiffies.  There are also two hotels in the town.
Details  like directions, timing etc. can be worked out once we know who would like to be with us and when.
We have decided to use this opportunity to present our second skiff, which is currently under construction, so it would be great to have members of the SCRA with us for this memorable event which we are calling the “Fête de l’Aviron Traditionnel Vilaine Maritime”.  For this fête we shall be inviting rowers of traditional boats from other organisations on the river to join us for a parade on the beautiful river Vilaine, with a barbecue with Breton music and dance on the Saturday evening.
We are looking forward to welcoming fellow Skiffies and establishing new friends and contacts.
Please contact Chris Sealy at:  

La Roche Bernard

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In St Andrews, as our little club has grown over the past 5 years we have also established an adaptive rowing programme, which has become an integral part of our development. The initial impetus was the result of a series of coincidences. We had met Gateshead Newcastle Club when taking part in the Great Tyne Row 2015 and they had recently finished modifying their boat to accommodate paraplegic rowers. At this point we were about to build our second boat and the local harbour trust had just installed pontoons. We had a number of club members with experience in a variety of relevant areas, ranging from maritime experience to the military and various medical professions. Coupled with this pool of skills, as a community based club, which had received community funding, we had a desire to be inclusive about the ways in which we wanted to bring our sport to those with disabilities living in our area.

Our journey has not been without its ups and downs, with the best-laid plans sometimes going smoothly and on other occasions not at all running according to the script. We have learnt a lot along the way and have ironed out many of wrinkles, thanks to the patience of our adaptive rowers who have been willing ‘guinea pigs’ and the dedication of our adaptive rowing team. The best thing is that this team now includes disabled rowers who, as members, are acting as advocates for the sport, helping to recruit and induct new rowers with disabilities.

Our ambition now as a club, with the support of the SCRA, is to facilitate, encourage and assist other clubs to engage with adaptive rowing at whatever level they wish or feel able to. Clubs associated with the SCRA are spread out geographically, so the suggested way forward is to ask for a minimum of two volunteers from each SCRA area to be team leaders. These volunteers will form a ‘SCRA Adaptive Rowing Steering Group’, which can then liaise and assist clubs locally. Some clubs may already be engaging with disabled people, others might be considering it, while for a variety of reasons, for other clubs, this may not be a route they are able to go down, either now or in the future. However, even if your home club is not able to be involved, this does not preclude you yourself from being a volunteer. Once established as a Steering Group, we will work together and learn from each other. In this set up it is anticipated that the role of St Andrews will be to assist by sharing the strategies we have tried and tested (and in some cases abandoned!) to date. We are by no means experts but have built up some experience, for example, around how to get started, access and equipment and can draw on examples of problems and solutions that we have faced and found. In this way, we hope to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to us as individual clubs so that we can move forwards together in the development of adaptive rowing within Scottish coastal rowing more generally.

Fear is probably the biggest hurdle for clubs and disabled people alike. The fear of saying or doing something wrong, the fear of something new or of holding others back. All are challenges but they are far outweighed by the rewards for everyone involved. Consistently we hear in feedback, “if I hadn’t felt welcome I wouldn’t have come back” or “this is the best thing we do as a club –it’s my favourite thing”. For many who have seen their lives turned upside down by illness or injury it is an opportunity to develop a new facet to life. As one of the participants in the St Andrews University ‘Rowing the Waves’ research projects summarised better than we can, this can have both a physical and psychological impact:

“on the boat there is this aspect of my disability meaning nothing or disappearing, yes, and at the same time this connection and being one with everything else, with the sea like this breathing with the sea, you know, that I really felt that there was no separation between the sea, the movement of the sea and the movement of the boat and we were we were an extension of the sea you know, like, we were one”

“there is a meditative quality of rowing and at the time I felt like I was dancing”

“I don’t know whether I can speak for other people with a disability but I think I really would like to give them this opportunity to feel that their disabilities mean less, in that context and so that there is, you know, it’s really part of your healing process to come to terms with disability but also to learn that actually there are lots of things you can still do and enjoy”

“it’s the single most evident gift that the amputation has brought me”

In a practical sense engaging with adaptive rowing means many factors need to be considered, not least of all logistics. We row from very different locations that have unique opportunities as well as difficulties. The equipment and facilities available vary enormously club to club. There are solutions to most problems and it is fair to say that skiffies seem to excel at overcoming these – whether they be broken oars, split planks or choppy seas. A real-life example is of a young man who lost his leg in an accident and was struggling to row comfortably with his local club. He paid us a visit in St Andrews and we were able to make some very simple modifications that he would be able to transfer back to his own club. In addition, one of our adaptive rowers, who formed part of the crew, gave him some practical advice from his unique perspective – our enlarged dedicated adaptive rowing team in action!

In sum, collaboration and helping each other to establish and develop a new and exciting element to Scottish Coastal Rowing is the goal. If you would like to be part of this by becoming a volunteer or would simply just like more information please contact Julie Hardisty via email at .

Kind regards

Julie & Clayton Hardisty
St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club

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Leopard launched at Hout Bay

On Sunday Hout Bay Yacht Club became the first club to launch a St Ayles Skiff from the African continent. With a piper following the skiff’s progress along the harbour to the slipway, along with scores of club members, more interest was created, which can be seen in videos on HBYC’s Facebook page.

Leopard was built by HBYC President Chris Sutton with many willing helpers, and it speaks highly of his dedication to the task that his hip operation was delayed so that he could finish the skiff on time. He returned from hospital quickly enough to be able to cox the skiff on her maiden voyage!

The skiff has created some interest in South Africa, with two crews from the Simons Town Coastal Rowing Club ( a sliding seat club) attending, and, I believe, a representative of Rowing South Africa. The pics below tell the rest of the story.

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First South African skiff to take to the water.

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Forth And Clyde Canal Flotilla 24-26 May 2019

We are delighted that the Forth and Clyde Canal is going to be opening for full transit again this year. There is going to be a flotilla to celebrate this in the summer and we are very grateful that the organisers would like to include Coastal Rowing Clubs in the celebration plans.  They write “To re-open the Forth & Clyde canal on the holiday weekend of 24 till 26 May this year, a grand flotilla is being planned, with sociability at the Falkirk Wheel on the Friday evening , at Auchinstarry near Kilsyth on the Saturday evening and parting lunch with the provost in full regalia at Kirkintilloch on Sunday.”

The canal between these places incorporates only 3 locks We would suggest that crews take generally shorter oars. but also take a couple of paddles for close quarter maneuvers.  The F+C has been transited by St Ayles skiffs before.  See Dunbar Coastal Rowing clubs account in their previous cruising log entry.

There has already been a very positive response from our rowing clubs. Robin Fryer is in charge of coordination and registration of everyone who aims to have a boat there. Please contact him directly if you have a boat and a crew to take part: We will have more info as the planning progresses, but idea of classes and numbers of participants is critical to various aspects. In order to ease the passage of the flotilla through the locks there is an upper limit of 18 skiffs, so please do register your interest with Robin ASAP, to ensure your club does not miss out on a space. Bob Fleet of Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club has kindly joined the organising committee, and is the SCRA representative for the purposes of the event. He is an experienced canal transiter and will be in touch with all clubs once they are registered. Very positively the usual fees for use of the locks on the canal are being waived for the purpose of this event.

Boatie Blest on the Union Canal
Boatie Blest on the Union Canal

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Skiffie Worlds 2019 Schedule

Stranraer is looking forward to welcoming the world to Loch Ryan in July for Skiffie Worlds, the World Championship for the St Ayles Skiff class of coastal rowing boat. The schedule for the week will be as follows:

Sunday 7 July 2019:
Practice Day and Welcome Ceremony

Monday 8 July 2019:
Men Under 40; Women Under 40, Women Over 60; Men Over 60

Tuesday 9 July 2019: 
Men 40+,  Women 40+;  Mixed 50+

Wednesday 10 July 2019: 
Mixed Over 40 (heats); Mixed Over 60/ Mixed 280+  ; Open Men

Thursday 11 July 2019: 
Men Over 50;  Women Over 50; Open Women; Mixed 40+ (final); Mixed U17

Friday 12 July 2019: 
U19 Boys, U19 girls, mixed open A (heats)

Saturday 13 July 2019: 
Mixed Open B;  Mixed open A (final); U17 boys; U17 girls; U19 mixed.

There may be minor changes to this schedule, depending on the number of entries for each event. In categories with a large number of entries the final may be run on the day after the heats/ repechage.

Stranraer and Loch Ryan
Skiffieworlds2013 at Ullapool

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Safety Notice: Throwlines

The MAIB has been looking at throwlines, following a failure during a swimming pool exercise. Surprisingly it seems that the line in some throwbags is welded together with a weak join, rather then being made in one piece or spliced.

The MAIB found the following:

  • the failure of a throw bag rescue line during an emergency rescue operation in fast flowing and deep waters could potentially result in the casualty drowning
  • a large number of throw bags are in use in the UK, both in the leisure sector and emergency rescue services. However as throw bags are not considered safety or lifesaving equipment, there is no requirement to manufacture them to a specific safety or quality standard
  • at present, the only safeguard against poor and unsafe workmanship of throw bags is limited to the quality checks of the manufacturer; such checks lack third party oversight

Click on these links to see:

The MAIB report

The MAIB Safety Bulletin

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A Skiff for Burntisland?

Every town needs a skiff (or two). If you know anyone in or around Burntisland who would benefit from being involved in building a boat, building a club and building a community please encourage them to go along to a public meeting at the Roasting Project coffee house, on 30 January 2019 at 7pm. Help to share the benefits of boat building and coastal rowing!

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Fife Club’s initiative shows the way   

Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club with a report on their initiative to help young women in the community get out on the water – great work!

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