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Glasgow Cup Runneth Over

On a dreich September Weekend Sunday, nine clubs bravely turned out at Kelvin Harbour to race for the Glasgow Cup. Although many of their number were still aching from the rigours of 13 miles in the Castle to Crane race the previous day, crews from Anstruther, Boatie Blest, Carrick, Eastern, Dundrum, FOCCR,GCRC, Queensferry and Woudrichem were undaunted by the conditions and put on a wonderful display of rowing for the spectators on The Glenlee and on the quayside attending the excellent Clydebuilt Festival.


The 1500m Course began with an upriver leg keeping to the south side of the river, with the benefit of incoming tide, from The Glenlee to the Graving Docks. There a tight buoy turn to port led the skiffs across the river to carve a course around a second buoy, to be taken again to port, before fighting against the tide back to The Glenlee and the Finish Line.

Huge thanks are due to Colin of Anstruther on his RIB, not only providing safety cover, lifting and laying marks, but regularly clearing debris, much more efficiently than we saw at Henley, from the Course.

Adam Graham, Umpire, kept a close eye on the observance of the letter and spirit of the SCRA Shared Buoy Turns Etiquette Reminder and had no incidents to report, which is very pleasing and of great credit to the competitors.

So, despite the dreadful weather, aching limbs and tiredness, hard competition in all categories gave the hardy supporters and spectators plenty to cheer about.

After a strenuous day, and six categories of racing, the worthy winners of the Glasgow Cup 2017 are Dundrum, who are thereby invited to return to the next staging of the event and defend their title.


Detailed results are available on the GCRC website.

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Freshwater Sprints Notice of Race 2017

Each year members of SCRA clubs gather at a fresh water venue to race together in the Freshwater sprints.  The regatta is held on the day of the SCRA AGM, and is raced between regional teams rather than individual clubs, in the hope that every club in the SCRA will be represented in their regional team, and will then also be represented at the AGM.

In 2017 we are returning to Loch Tummel sailing club, who have very kindly agreed to welcome us back after doing a fantastic job of hosting us in 2016.  If you would like to take part please make sure that you contact your regional captain, so they can slot you into the team.

Full details are in the Freshwater Sprints 2017 Notice of Race.

Freshwater Sprints 2017 are sponsored by Teal Trailers:



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Waves at Prestwick Regatta

There was a return to real coastal rowing, when Prestwick hosted their second Regatta.  The club launch off a fairly exposed beach, and clubs were treated to fairly brisk conditions and reasonably sizeable waves.  For the second year running Arran, who brought two skiffs with them, were overall champions.  Results here:

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Notice of AGM 2017

Notice of AGM 2017

SCRA AGM Saturday 28th October 2017

Scottish Coastal Rowing Association AGM
28h October 2017
6.00 p.m. start (Coffee/tea & biccies available from 5.30 p.m.)

Location: Loch Tummel Sailing Club Clubhouse

Draft Agenda
1. Apologies
2. Minutes of Last Meeting (SCRA AGM 29th October 2016)
3. Matters Arising
4. Treasurer’s Report
5. Convener’s Report
6. Election of Officers and Committee
7. Skiffieworlds 2019
8. Oars Group Report
9. Any Other Business
– items under this heading must be advised to the Secretary no later than the 17th October and must be submitted by clubs only. Any submissions under this category must be in the form of a motion.

Election of Officers and Committee:
Member Clubs shall send their nominations for the committee to the
Secretary by the 10th October 2017
Please pass suggestions for items for the Agenda to the Secretary by 17th October.

The AGM is a meeting of clubs.
We can only guarantee space for two representatives per club.
Anyone speaking at the AGM is speaking on behalf of and as instructed by their clubs.
It is therefore helpful if clubs have discussed any of the issues that are going to arise in advance of the AGM.

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Calling Picnic Class Boats for the Freshwaters

The main focus for the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association is and will remain the St Ayles Skiff, a class of rowing boat for four rowers and a cox  which has brought a great deal of pleasure to many who have built or rowed one.   However the recent Caslte to Crane race is a reminder that other boats are in the Scottish Coastal Rowing fleet and for the interest of skiffies and skiffbuilders  we will once again arrange races for  the SCRA “Picnic Class” of one rower skiff at the Freshwater Sprints.

The Picnic Class is a development class and a wide variety of craft will qualify under the class rules.  Essentially the constraints are that the boats should be “fixed seat” and no more than 5 meters long.  The rowlocks should be at the gunnel (no “outriggers”).   The beam should not be too narrow, both because a really narrow beam will mean that only peedie oars can be used, and also because insufficient beam will compromise stability, all entertainingly tested on the day by the “Stability test”.    More details can be found in the Picnic Class measurement rules .   Some boats that already exist will be deemed to meet the class rules even if they are outwith the exact measurements.  These include the  Royal West of Scotland Boat Club’s historic “Sixteens”, and rowporty’s Drakes.

There will be a race for Men and a race for Women in the Picnic Class at the 2017 Freshwater Sprints.  Races will be over a straight “drag race” type course of around 300 meters.  Competitors need to be members of an SCRA club  and all boats will require to have third party insurance in place for the event.

Closing date for entries for the picnic class races  is 21 October.  The Freshwaters are on 28 October.  We really hope that we get a number and variety of these one rower boats turning up, so get your entry in early.

See the Freshwater Sprints Notice of Race (published shortly) for more details.

See last years report from the picnic class races.

All photos by Jon Gerrard.

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Living The Dream – Launch Day

Living The Dream Launch Day

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Weather for Ducks at SCRA Picnic

Well done to the brave souls of Kinghorn and RowPorty who turned out in wet wet wet conditions for the SCRA picnic row on Loch Lomond.  The foul weather on top of blisters had been enough to put off most of the hardy rowers who had been taking part in Castle to Crane the day before.  Kinghorn bravely sent one crew on the long row from Balloch and after a crew swap the return crew had a slightly dryer row back.

Photos at Luss by Murdo Macleod.


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SCRA Cruising Log Competition 2017- Call for Entries

Rowing is not just about racing.  Plenty of skiffies enjoy getting out in the boat just for the sake of it, and for a bit of adventure with friends.  To encourage groups to share their experiences of this and to allow us all to learn from each other SCRA holds the SCRA Cruising Log competition each year.

Careful Packing is Important for any Expedition

Careful Packing is Important for any Expedition

We would like members of SCRA clubs who go on expeditions and adventures to record them in a cruising log and forward that on to us. Ideally we would like to log to be uploaded so that we can post a link to it from our website.  Logs should have some pictures or video as well as a written description of the voyage, giving details of launch and recovery sites, stop overs, and descriptions of the tidal streams and conditions.  We hope that others coming after can learn constructively so please do admit to your mistakes as well as saying what went well, and please also consider including an appendix with some thoughts on safety issues that you feel others would benefit from.

Closing date for entries this year will be 18 October 2017, but we would be delighted if you could send entries sooner than that to inspire others.  All expeditions must have taken place in the 12 months or so preceding the closing date.

The competition will be judged on how entertaining and informative the log is, rather than just how long or arduous the cruise is, so don’t be shy about recording your thoughts on a shortish jaunt.

All entries and enquiries to please.

It goes without saying that the crews taking part in this competition must take responsibility for their own safety, and ensure that their craft is seaworthy, appropriately equipped for the contemplated voyage, and that the planned voyage is within the competency of the crew. For inspiration read “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K Jerome, “Ice Bears and Kotic” by Peter Webb.:

The roll call of previous winners is as follows:

2012 (Joint)  Anstruther –  Elsie’s Adventures Round the Forth

2012 (Joint)  Boatie Blest  Union Canal

2013  Isle of Seil CRC  Bilderglug round Seil and Luing

2014  Boatie Blest   Voga Longa  European Tour

2015  North Edinburgh Rowing Club  Loch Shiel/ Jacobite Muster

2016 Isle of Mull CRC  Round Mull Row

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Scotland’s Big Rowing Race: Castle to Crane 2017

approaching the finish, photo Sarah Mills

Something very special happened on the Clyde on 23 September 2017.  More than 400 rowers in 75 boats took part in the inaugural Castle to Crane Race,  rowing up the river from Dumbarton Castle to the Finnieston Crane near Glasgow City Centre. The event was organised by social enterprise Gal Gael as part of their “Clydebuilt Festival”, with significant input from the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association and its member Clubs, particularly Royal West of Scotland ABC and Glasgow Coastal Rowing Club.

Boats had travelled a long way by land including from the far North of Scotland, East Anglia, Wales,  South and South West of England to be part of the fleet.  Significantly though many had crossed the sea to attend, with American skiffies flying in to join Isle of Seil’s “Selkie” and ferry crossings for clubs from Netherlands, Ireland, Islay, Mull, Lewis, Orkney and Shetland just to get to the startline.  The efforts in organising the race were matched by the efforts of those taking part in travel as well as training, and of course racing for two or more hours in a fixed seat rowing boat.  Boats launched at Sandpoint Marina, and had their start time taken as they crossed the line.  They then made their way down the River Leven and into the River Clyde.

waiting to launch at Dumbarton Photo Daren Borzynski

Having passed Dumbarton Castle crews moved on up to pass the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal at Bowling and then under the high level Erskine Bridge before the Titan Crane came into view. Crews might have been fooled into thinking this was the finish, but they were only half way.  Country side gave way to commerce and industry, with active shipbuilding going on at the BAE systems yards.   The crews then raced up to pass the Tall Ship and the Clydebuilt festival at Riverside Museum before the final mile under the footbridges (complete with Pipe Band!), past the media offices of BBC and STV and finshing at Finnieston just before the Clyde Arc.

Everyone who started the course completed it, and they all deserve a medal. Which is good because they all got one. There were winners in a variety of categories but everyone should be proud of their achievement, wherever they finished in their category.  In recognition of the fact that this is a community sport, and that everyone deserves credit, Castle to Crane’s  premier prize is the “Median Trophy”.  This trophy is in the gift of the organisers and is given to a crew who represent the whole fleet.   Fittingly, given the amount of effort Royal West had put in to making Castle to Crane Race a success for visiting crews, the winners of the Median Trophy in 2017 were the Royal West Crew racing in their St Ayles skiff “Chippy McNish”.

With Glasgow in the background. Credit Allan Robertson

Little and Large:  Teifi Skiff “Speedwell” with the Birlinn “Orcuan” . Photo Daren Borzynski

There was significant variety in the fleet.  The biggest vessel was Gal Gael’s flagship, the birlinn “Orcuan”.  She is a heavy ship, and was magnificently rowed by her crew of twelve.  We had the largest ever fleet of St Ayles skiffs in a dazzling variety of colours.  There was a significant entry from Wales, with six Celtic Longboats taking part.  Once times were adjusted for age and gender Porthmadog’s 50+ mixed crew were awarded the prize for a four oared boats.   Other boats in this class included North Berwicks crew in a Hanningfield Skiff, “Zev” raced “randan”, and a crew from Royal West, all members of the Graham family, racing the historic Jollyboat “Sprite”.

Another Welsh boat, “Flying Fish” from Aberdyfi, took part in the coxed Double sculls class.  This is a class that we hope to expand in the future.  Once the times had been adjusted for age and gender this class was won by “Speedwell” rowed by an all female crew from North Berwick.

The race also incorporated the Scottish Open Women’s Pilot Gig Championships.  The 2017 Champions were named as Penryn, racing in their beautiful varnished gig Morlader”.

There were five Currachs from the South of Ireland taking part.   These are skin on frame boats, so relatively light, and have skinny oars. (Check out the oars in the photo above by Allan Robertson). By Monday the Currachs were away on a wee adventure, rowing round the Isle of Cumbrae.  In the race however, and after times were adjusted for age and gender, the Currach prize went to the Men’s open crew “An Feuch Un”.  We may need to adjust handicaps in the future to take account of the type of Currach, the technical details of which are slightly beyond us!  The fastest mixed open Currach was Domhan Ealla in 2 hours 41 minutes 27 seconds.


Shetland Yoal by Daren Borzynski

Shetland Yoals from Orkney, Lerwick and Nesting took part.  Lerwick’s mixed crew in Siri were winners of the category, once it had been adjusted for age and gender.  Their time over the course was 2:12:32.  The Shetland Yoals were a significant inspiration to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project when it started up, and  the Association was delighted to once again see these boats racing alongside St Ayles skiffs.

There were 55 St Ayles skiffs racing, the largest fleet of these boats ever assembled.  They were split into six categories, and the prizes were awarded in each of the categories as follows:

Mixed 50+  :  North Berwick, “Skiff John B”

Men 50 +  :  Ullapool, “Ulla”

Women 50 +  :  Anstruther, “Chris o’Kanaird”

Mixed Open :  Anstruther, “St Ayles”

Men’s Open :  St Andrews, “Blue Bay”

Women’s Open:  Avoch, “Zulu”

We have seen thousands of Photographs on Castle to Crane’s Facebook page.  You will almost certainly find one of your favourite crew on the albums by official photographers  Allan Robertson and Daren Borzynski.  Please credit the photographer when sharing any photos.

Click Here for Full Results of Castle to Crane

Do bear in mind when interpreting the results that (contrary to the usual rule of twelths) tidal conditions became less favourable as the day went on. Therefore those with lower start numbers were lucky enough to row slightly less distance through the water (as opposed to SOG) than those with higher start numbers.  The Anstruther ladies 50+ crew are erroneously shown as racing mixed open, so apologies to all concerned by that mix up.

For those interested in the adjustment of times for age and gender, they can view the adjusted times on the C2C Adjustment Spreadsheet.   The adjustments apply within classes, not between classes.  A strong ethos of SCRA is fairness of opportunity between the genders.  We adjust the times for gender and age when there are insufficient boats in a class to justify separate trophies for men/ women/ mixed.

We hope that everyone enjoyed Castle to Crane 2017.  Feedback forms will be sent out, and we will use that feedback to help us to decide whether to try to make this an annual event, and if so to start negotiations with our key partners with a view to bringing you Castle to Crane 2018.

Joppa from Findhorn, declared the bonniest boat. photo Allan Robertson

Assistant Cox, Isle of Seil. credit: Allan Robertson

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Stranraer Regatta and Oyster Festival

Stranraer Regatta Report 16th & 17th September 2017

Stranraer were proud to hold its first St. Ayles Skiff regatta. A small but special group of clubs made their way to the furthest south west corner of Scotland to the beautiful Loch Ryan as part of the South West challenge 2017. The regatta coincided with the inaugural Stranraer Oyster Festival which provided the opportunity for some interesting dance techniques to be observed at “the Bash” on Saturday night alongside 500 other locals and visitors.

Annan kindly brought 2 boats to enable extreme novice crews from Stranraer to “have a go”. Whilst the camaraderie and friendly intense rivalry was noted amongst the odd bit of crew sharing and minor category stretching to get more boats out for each race. Over 60 categories rapidly morphed down over 50, and youth to novice with consultation of the visiting teams.

Saturday was a pleasant relief from the gales of the days before but with still some short chop conditions (and least likely conditions to occur on Loch Ryan with our regular sheltered breezes from any other direction) of a due northerly 12 knot cool breeze. However, after bacon rolls, cups of tea at the Coxes briefing and some Boat House envy, Colin the local coast guard and beach assistant waded into the seas to help all the boats launch for the first race.

The first race started to set the scene with Boatie Blest (with help from St Ayles ladies) showing Killyleagh and Carrick the way and Sketrick just warming to the task in the races to come. By the time race 2 got under way clearly Sketrick had recovered from their long journey and were starting to get going with a close race for first with Boatie Blest coming a second only 5 seconds behind and Carrick in third and Killyleagh fourth. Sketrick and Carrick sat out the third race with not enough of the right kind of crew to convince the umpires they could take part, by now it became obvious that Stuart from Boatie Blest lives on the boat, when he wasn’t rowing he was coxing. Also, the deep technical discussions had started (which to the newbies of Stranraer was both fascinating and enlightening), “rowlocks or pins”, “blade length adjustment and gearing”, (Perhaps this coastal rowing thing has a bit more to it than just building a boat and going for a row ed? – so as Stranraer start to build their first skiff in their new boathouse next month lots of close-up photos started being taken!) Race four was a humdinger as the over 50 men took to the water and a ringer was spotted (Topher) in the Sketrick boat. The race was close and finally Sketrick held off the Boatie Blest challenge by only 5 seconds and the fastest time of the day at 13 minutes and 50 seconds.

Race five brought great excitement, you could nearly hear the whole of Stranraer stop to cheer their hapless brave Novice crew onto the water. The Stranraer Novice crew took to the water and were very proud to fight off Annan Novices to come a creditable 3rd, Alan Thompson had kindly coxed the Stranraer crew and repeated the favour the following day. It should be noted that Boatie Blest had finished so far in front that this was a moment when Stuart was seen on the shore, tea in hand watching the Stranraer team cross the line! (We have a lot to learn).


North from the beach to Ailsa Craig


Lunch break was well deserved and the chop was building and the drizzle decided to try and dampen the motivation of the crews, but to no avail. The final three races were going to be critical to who would lift the trophy. First the Men’s Open with Sketrick, Boatie Blest, Carrick and Killyleagh in that order, which tightened the top of the table going into the Women’s Open. But again, Boatie Blest put on a big performance followed by Carrick, Sketrick in third and Killyleagh fourth. As the last race loomed it was clear the calculators were out (although later perhaps not all coxes had read the race instructions fully to realise it was the best 5 to count!), Boatie looked like they had it in the bag and nobody could pass them but could Killyleagh catch Sketrick. It was again close racing but Boatie Blest stamped their authority again, Killyleagh did beat Sketrick on the water, but not enough to pull them up to second overall.

As the boats came off the water and the crews crawled on hand and knee up the beach, they could smell the burgers and sausages on Hugh Parkers BBQ, unsurprisingly many them found some alcohol too. Those staying conveniently on Roy’s clipper in the harbour rushed off for showers to cool down (really ed?) The prize giving came and went with discussions of the day, what had been and what could have been if only.


Boatie Blest with their prize

The Bash at the Castle hotel was the main event for the Oyster festival and many crews joined us for the party and were still seen dancing at midnight. Clearly the impending Sunday 5k “fun” duck race was but a training row for these well-tuned athletes.


Colin helping the boats with their Le Mans Starts on Sunday

Sunday dawned to light winds and a calm sea. The course was laid. The fun race started, each crew 2 minutes apart in reverse order of club results from the previous day. (“I like a good chase” was heard from a small Irish voice). The clock started on land with a crew member running 100yds down the front to a paddling pool full of plastic ducks. Once one had been collected they returned to their boat le Mans style starting from the beach and off to the furthest mark turning to Port. On to a second mark making a triangle turning also to Port. Finally, as they neared the shore again there was the “Super Duck” mark with a bag of Mars bars attached. Each crew stopped and collected a mars bar and finally returned to the shore and ran to the start with a duck and wrapper. To add some spice some special prizes were also on offer, “Best Duck Impressions”, “Most Notable Cox” and “Most Notable Teamwork”.


A happy Stranraer Crew after the 5k Duck Race

The results speak for themselves, again the friendship and camaraderie shone through as the Stranraer crew, a combination of the local coastguards and staff from Jewsons (who are supplying much of what Stranraer need to build their boats) could not start with the rest of the boats and was in fact ready to go after all the other boats were ashore. Not wanting to leave the novices out at sea by themselves several clubs reselected a second crew to re-do the whole race again!

Stranraer greatly enjoyed hosting the regatta and are now even more (was that possible?) excited about getting their own boats built ready to be competitive in 2018 and beyond. A huge thankyou to the skiff community for being so friendly and easy to host. An equally large thankyou to our large team of keen volunteers to made it all possible.

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