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2019 SCRA AGM – New Constitution and Internationalism

Thank you too all the clubs who attended or unfortunately had to send their apologies to the SCRA AGM. Full minutes will be available in due course, but we know that many will be anxious to know the outcome of a couple of important matters that were put before the meeting for approval.

New Constitution and Conversion to a SCIO: the meeting approved unanimously the concept of converting SCRA from being a membership “Association” made up of member clubs, to being an Incorporated Organisation governed by a new constitution. The full text of the resolution was as follows:

“That, given the advantages associated, the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA) should seek to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), and:

  1. that the SCRA Committee be given authority on behalf of the members to agree on any necessary changes to the attached draft Constitution to achieve SCIO status, or any minor changes, without
    further reference to members; and
  2. that on SCIO status being approved by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and the new SCIO being entered into the Scottish Charity Register:
    a. all members of the SCRA be deemed to become members of the new SCIO until such time as the next membership renewal is due;
    b. all assets and/or rights in the ownership or custodianship of the SCRA be transferred to the new SCIO; and
    c. the SCRA Committee members who sign the charity trustee declaration forms which accompany the SCIO application be deemed to have been appointed by the members as board members of the new SCIO until the first AGM following incorporation.

The SCRA will now engage with the Charity regulator to put this resolution into effect. Thank you to the SCRA Governance Group who have put so much effort into this important matter.

Formation of a new International Class Association. The SCRA committee wishes to move forward with other National Class associations to form a new international class association, St Ayles Skiff International. At the moment SCRA is the world wide class association for the St Ayles skiff, and so Skiffieworlds has been held under SCRA auspices to date, and the measurement rules are looked after by the SCRA, all be it with international consultation. At the AGM the following resolution was passed : “To authorise the committee to transfer the rights and responsibilities of the SCRA/ SCR SCIO in respect of being the International Class Association of the St Ayles skiff to St Ayles Skiff International.” The committee will now work towards that objective.

Irish, Australians, Scotch and Dutch will all be working together to Establish St Ayles Skiff International

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SCRA Freshwater Sprints 2019 Sponsored by Scotia Seeds

Thank you to Scotia Seeds (Wildflowers of Scotland) for their kind sponsorship of the Freshwater Sprints 2019. You helped make a great community gathering possible.

Loch Tummel Sailing Club and SCRA Freshwater Sprint Course: pic Alan from Boatie Blest/ SCRA Facebook Group

The freshwater spints are the end of season celebration regatta for Scottish Coastal Rowing. The event is held at Loch Tummel, as a warm up for the SCRA AGM which follows on after the racing. The representatives of the forty or so rowing clubs present were arranged into six teams: South West, North West, St Kilda, North East, Fife and South East. The racing is on a sprint course, starting on a line to the East of Loch Tummel sailing club, racing down to a line of turning marks to the west, before a 180 degree turn and heading back to the finish line, which is about half way back to the start. Conditions were excellent for racing if a little bit chilly. At the start of the regatta the water was absolutely still, but the thermometers were showing minus three degrees. The temperature did climb slowly during the day, as did the breeze. As ever with these championships, Perthshire’s Autumn colours gave a fantastic backdrop.

Freshwater Sprints – pic An Eathar
Returning from the Finish. Pic An Eathar

Fife and North East exchanged victories in the early races, with South West and South East chipping in the occasional win. However as the day drew on North East continued to rack up the points and pulled away to retain the trophy which they have won for three of the last four years. The results sheet can be downloaded here.

  • 1st North East –
  • 2nd South East
  • 3rd Fife
  • 4th South West
  • 5th North and West
  • 6th St Kilda
Pic: Florence Royer, SCRA Facebook Group
Everyone got gold at the Freshwater Sprints – pic An Eathar

In addition to St Ayles racing, SCRA holds its Picnic Class races at the Freshwaters. Hana Werner of Isle of Mull (North West) won the women’s picnic event in Swona, a Clint Chase Caravelle. The Men’s race was won by Andres Leslie of RowPorty (South East) in his Drake 17 “Pasqual”. The magnificent Picnic Class Trophy Basket is awarded to the best performance accross the two races, and was shared this year between “Pasqual” and “15”, a Royal West Sixteen from the South West. It was great to welcome a new boat to the picnic fleet, built specifically to the rule. Stuart Clachan had done a very neat and beautiful job building “Salty Rocket” to his own design. He launched her for the fist time on the evening before the racing.

Picnic Class Racing, Freshwater Sprints 2019. picnic pic An Eathar

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Blue Light regatta nomination for Blue Flag

MRT and RNLI battle it out off Lamlash

Arran Coastal Rowing Club club hosted an Emergency Services Regatta for The Angus Campbell Quaich last weekend in bright sunshine.

In the past, the emergency services on the island used to have a meeting at a pub of choice for an evening of competitive gaming – darts, pool, dominoes etc. In recent years, the pub outings have stopped and when the Coastal Rowing Club built its second skiff it was Dr Angus Campbell’s idea to bring back the friendly competition as an inter-service rowing regatta. Sadly, he died before the competition took place.

Crews from Police, Fire, RNLI, Mountain Rescue, Coastguard, Hospital & Ambulance and the Medical Centre all took part, and were trained over six weeks by ACRC. The regatta was won by the Mountain Rescue Team and the magnificent trophy was presented by Dr Campbell’s daughter.

Spectators enjoyed the racing and the BBQ, and around £500 was raised in a raffle for Arran Cancer Support.

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Feàrlagean Na Fairge 25-28.06.2019

Written by Niall Odhar of An Eathar Rowing Club on the west side of the Island of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

We set out to explore and camp our way around Loch Ròg in the Outer Hebrides, against a background of powerful winds and questionable forecasts. At the close of the first day safely ashore we perhaps unknowingly faced the day’s greatest danger: a “feàrlagan” or shrew. It was scurrying about the road by the boats impervious to the lack of cover. We picked him up without caution, to find a safer place, not knowing that local tradition says – that if a shrew runs up between your legs it can break your back. Perhaps a new item for next years risk assessment.

Our fleet consisted of 4 St Ayles skiffs, a drake and a Sgoth Niseach – all this accompanied by Michael Skelly in his semi rigid fizz boat for support. We numbered between 20 and 25 persons, as participant joined and departed. An Eathar rowing club’s Yackydoola was very much at home as was Falmadair trust’s Callicvol dipping lug sail “sgoth”. Jenny Skylark and Pascual just about know their own way north by now but had brought the Row Porty rowers with them, regardless. Blue Moon, our constant friend, was kindly loaned again by Steornabhagh based Embark and Charlie Green’s Florence joined from a land base each day not only taking radio batteries home to recharge but allowing people who were time constrained to join and leave the expedition. Valuable assistance indeed. Our additional participants included six Australian, mostly Tasmanians, veterans of open boat raiding and representation from Uist rowing club also.

Having that first day dodged winds upward of 20 knots from the north east we snacked at the delicious Miabhaig Scallop Shack as we waited for driver Don and the Horshader bus to take us to the Traigh Na Beirghe campsite. There we met the local sheep who looked proper affronted that we were camped on their machair pasture and brayed loudly as a diversion while the bolder ones poked their faces into buckets and dry bags. We walked in the waning wind to the sweeping beach – some to bravely swim. Eventually campsite warden Fin showed up and conversation soon gave way to him squeezing the “eternal surge of the sea” and many other local musical gems from his new melodeon. The girls danced. He also drew our attention to iron age fort – Dun Bharabhat and the rocky stream studded with small mill ruins that leads up to the tarn like loch and it’s broch remains. Breathtaking.

The second day. Miabhaig was sent and we turned north past Bhàcasaigh for Pabaigh Mòr collecting mackerel as we went. Here we met a melodeon ocean pressing and stretching lifting and dropping us. We gave up on Caolas an Ear – the narrow channel to the wonderful lagoon in the northeast of the island and headed into the safety of Traigh na Cille to make ourselves a short stay Baile na Cille tented village. Here we cooked fish and by erecting an Australian flag attracted a visiting rib from a passing ship. A curious stranger rocked up to our small settlement. Incredibly he was a good friend and colleague of one of our Tasmanians – Martin Riddle – both of them gobsmacked at the chance meeting. In the evening Ian Stephen, standing on the beach told the story of the broken teeth of 15th century Pabaigh resident Tarmod and the vengeful massacre of brothers, hunted down one by one. Tented between the water lily covered lochan and the remains of St Peter’s chapel (1266-1559AD) we slept like the slain.

The third day.
In flat light and faint winds we departed the priest island, as the Norse knew it and headed across the open sea to Caolas Fhlodaigh and Beàrnaraigh Beag beyond. The sea was not listening to the wind – it was still playing yesterdays tune. It proudly raised us and indifferently dropped us, we watched each other marvellously appear and disappear. You’ll never guess what we caught at Bogha na Saoidhean. Yes the ever popular pollock. Stuffed fish head for tea surely? Beyond the cleft separating the greater and the lesser Beàrnaraigh we beached on Traigh an Teampuill. Baggage ashore we got back aboard and went anti clockwise to land on Traigh Mòr. Here the sun blazed. The beach was hot; the sand harvest yellow and the sea so blue. The scene was caribbean – the swimming sensation baltic. Shepherded by Michael Skelly we rock hopped and hugged the skerried coast home to the camp. After roasting rionnach and eating stuffed saoidhean head we assembled raptly on Baca Mòr hillock. In the radiating fading rays of sunset Ian Stephen finished off the Pabaigh murdering brothers in turn. The tale told, another day closed.

Day four
We awoke to nothing. Beàrnaraigh Beag was enveloped, fading at every edge. Soon a glimmer, then a glow of sun. The golden sea was revealed and coastlines appeared beyond the crosses of the churchyard. The curtain lifted on our closing passage back to Breascleit. We were n’t quite ready to concede so we went back on our selves through the toboggan tunnel of an Coalas Cumhang to Traigh Bhostadh. Some dived into the past by visiting the iron age house replica nearby but many just wandered and squandered any serious intention to just wilfully soak up undiluted summer.

Eventually we caught a favourable wind and headed home unhurriedly, the memories already banked, souls and seas restful.

An Eathar Coastal Rowing Club in The Outer Hebrides

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Scottish “Indoor Rowing” Championships

The Scottish Indoor Rowing Championships are run by our sliding seat friends at “Scottish Rowing”.  It is an annual event that attracts competitors from rowing and non-rowing backgrounds across UK and Europe.  Coastal Rowers have had success in the past in some categories.

The Championships in 2019 will be held on Friday the 22 November (Schools Championships) and Saturday the 23 November (Open Championships) at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility, Motherwell. ML1 2TZ.  Closing date is 8 November.

More details on the event and how to enter are on the organiser’s website.

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Firth Of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club Green Flag Nomination

John McFarlane is the Social and Environmental co-ordinator for the Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing club (FOCCRS). As you can see from the title, FOCCRS have a dedicated Environmental co-ordinator on their committee! John also sits on the local Environmental sub group of the Community Council as a representative of the FOCCRS. That subgroup consists of other local groups and the local council who work together co-cooperatively to make as big a difference as possible.

Although the club have carried out numerous initiatives over the past few years this is the first time that they have applied for a green flag award and have set out what they have been doing in 2019. John explains:

“The main focus is of course on Beach cleaning and our wonderful marine environment and we do this under the umbrella of both “Keep Scotland Beautiful” (the government organisation – who supply tabards and loads of helpful information and advice) and the Marine Conservation Society (very important as they provide the public liability cover for beach cleans). We have two beaches which we regularly survey for the Marine Conservation society (MCS) and submit reports. North Ayrshire council supply pickers, bags and gloves and take the collected rubbish away at the end of the clean.

FOCCRS working together on 7 April
FOCCRS with Bags Ready for Collection 7 April 2019

“On 7th April this year we arranged a beach clean and were joined by our partners and the local SNP MP Patricia Gibson, who was keen to get involved. Approx. 80 bags of rubbish were collected.

More Bags Filled on 24 June 2019

“On 24th June we helped organise a beach clean with the “Kiko plastics UK tour”. Kiko Mathews is the women’s world trans-atlantic rowing record holder, having rowed across the Atlantic single handed after a life threatening illness. On this occasion she was cycling round the UK coastline taking part in Beach cleans to raise awareness of the horrendous plastic problem facing out marine environment.

FOCCRS on 21 July 2019

“On 21st July we again took part in a beach clean with our partners from the Largs environmental group. Approx. 40 bags of rubbish were collected. A further beach clean was held on 22nd Sept and is part of the Keep Scotland Beautiful “clean up Scotland” campaign.

“As a club we are proud to work with our partners in making our wee bit of the world a cleaner and greener place.” 

Thank you FOCCRS for doing your bit, and for inspiring others with your story.

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Orkney Nominated for SCRA “Blue Flag” Award

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association has announced a new type of award. Their Blue Flag award can be awarded to SCRA member clubs who make a contribution to the wider community above and beyond the pure enjoyment of the sport of coastal rowing.

ORC members with representatives from MS Orkney Therapy Centre, YPeople Orkney, Home Start Orkney, RNLI Kirkwall and Orkney Vintage Club. Photo – ORC Facebook Page

Orkney  Rowing Club were formed in July 2014 and since then have raised just over £25,000 for local charities. Every 2 years they nominate charities to raise funds for and have so far donated to RNLI, Local Multiple Sclerosis Society, CLAN, Age Orkney, Home Start, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), and Y People. They have raised funds through a variety of different ways: a round Orkney Mainland row in 2016 which took just under 24 hours and raised £20,845.25; Quiz evenings; Prize Draw events; Marshalling at local Vintage Rally event annually; Calendars… all contributing to their community and all matters which they deserve wider recognition for. Well done Orkney Coastal Rowing Club.


Members helping out at the Vintage Car Rally – pic ORC Facebook Page

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Monster the Loch race Saturday 28th September

The Coigach Lass completed the Monster the Loch race in one of Scotland’s most iconic locations.  The  22 miles along Loch Ness from Fort Augustus to Dores is a significant challenge and further than any of us had rowed before, and in the deepest water too (227m).

Around 60 boats lined up for the start made up of all manner of human powered boats: pedalos, paddle boards, fixed seat rowing boats and sliding seat boats.  There were 12 St Ayles skiffs from Strathpeffer, Catterline, Portsoy, Shieldaig, Collieston, Carrick, Golspie, Firth of Clyde, Burghead and Queensferry for us to race.  Oh, and of course Nessie too.

It was a mass start so no handicapping.  Lining up alongside an eight crew from the GB national squad is an experience you don’t get every day.  We didn’t see much of them after the start, more on that later….

It was difficult to know what pace to set so we started at a conservative rate which left us a bit behind but we were playing a long game.  Once we worked out our race pace we started reeling in the skiffs ahead of us finally passing the mighty Golspie crew just past halfway.

Then we set our sights on the other competition.  We realised we were competing with pilot gigs – these are mostly based in SW England.  They are longer than the skiffs we race and with 6 oars against our 4.  They are notionally faster than a skiff but much heavier and it seems that the length of this race levels the playing field somewhat. 

We eventually got past a couple of gigs and for the last 5 miles we were involved in an epic tussle with the leading gig Jon Bon from Dorset.  Each boat in turn gained an advantage only to have it reeled back in.  In the final mile the Lass took a decisive lead and held on to the end.  We were the first skiff and the first wooden boat to finish.  Coigach Lass recorded a time of 3hrs 27mins.

The GB crew smashed the previous record by over 20mins in recording a breathtaking time of 2hrs 4mins. 57secs.

Our crew of Tom Grant, Reuben Brown, Matt Zietz, Nick Clooney with the heroic Kathleen Steventon coxing were fuelled mainly by Kathleen’s robust banana flapjack which will live long in my teeth memory.

A great event rounded off with hospitality at the Dores Inn and great craic on the beach with the other crews – a must-do event for every discerning skiffer. 


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Blue Flag

The Round Arran relay team in 2018, who raised £1,721 for the Men’s Share project and Health in Mind, covering 93.58km in 15 hours!

Every year, the SCRA hands out a number of awards. These are a great way of celebrating and promoting the collective efforts of our rowing community and by sharing stories and ideas, hopefully we can inspire others to do similar.

Sitting alongside our Cruising Log and Green Flag award, you may have seen reference made to a ‘Blue Flag.’ This is a new award we are introducing this year.

We know that many of you do a sterling job of fundraising to benefit your clubs, but we want to hear about the efforts you go to, to help those in the wider community. By way of example, a single crew recently rowed across the Minch, from Stornoway to Ullapool, raising in excess of £25K for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Incredible.

Whether your gesture was large or small, they all add up to something magnificent, so please tell us about them and let’s see how many blue flags we can award in our first year.

Send your entries to before the 16th October. Blue flags winners will be announced at the AGM.

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2019 SCRA Club Survey – Action Please

SCRA are trying to gather a bit of information about those who are using St Ayles skiffs, in order that we can work out how the Association can best serve them, and so that we can use the aggregated information to make representations to outside bodies, who may not be aware of the size and nature of what we do.  

A survey is being sent out to club contacts that we hold, and we would be very grateful if those running their club can take a few minutes to complete the survey and submit it.  It is probably worth having a click through it first, as there are some questions on it that might take a bit of digging.  For instance we are trying to get an idea of age and gender of coastal rowers, so it is helpful if clubs can let us know the age and gender breakdown of their memberships.  We only want one return from each club please, so would be grateful if each club committee can ensure that one person is detailed to deal with this matter.

We would be very grateful if clubs could respond to the survey within two weeks if at all possible.  We will also endeavour to share useful information coming out of the survey in advance of the 2019 SCRA AGM, which will be held on 26 October.

If you are part of a group that feels they should have received a link to the survey but has not please contact Anna MacKenzie:

Many thanks in anticipation.

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