SCRA Guidance for a Safe Return to Rowing on the Sea from 24 August 2020

This revised guidance is being issued following the publication of SportScotland’s Phase 3: Return to sport and physical activity guidance on 5th August 2020 and the First Minister’s announcement on 20th August 2020.


Coastal rowing is a non-contact sport, however, there are many aspects of it where individuals may inadvertently come into close contact with each other (launching & recovering boats, assisting crew into the boat, ‘crabbing’ etc). The boats and associated equipment also have lots of shared contact points e.g. oars, gunwales, etc. Therefore, clubs should regard Coastal rowing in fixed seat boats, with more than one household, in the context of an Organised Outdoor Contact Sport. That being the case, with the correct procedures in place, the Scottish Government and SportScotland have provided a confirmed start date of 24th August 2020 for adults to take part in this activity.

Please familiarise yourselves with all the information available and take all necessary steps to maximise safety for your club situation, whilst bearing in mind the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Covid 19, going forward. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THIS IS NOT A RETURN TO NORMAL ACTIVITY.


Some sporting activities can now be undertaken, providing all activity is consistent with current Scottish Government guidance on health, physical distancing and hygiene – you will also need to make sure that your club, facility and participants are made aware and can adapt to changes in guidance at short notice.  Information on Scottish Governments approach to managing COVID-19 is available at Scottish Government:  Coronavirus in Scotland .  

Although the guidance now permits rowing in St. Ayles Skiffs no club member should be put under any pressure to return to rowing until they are completely comfortable with doing so.

People who are shielding are permitted to undertake activities providing strict physical distancing is adhered to.

People who are symptomatic should self-isolate for 10 days; household members for 14 days as per NHS guidance. No one who is self-isolating or quarantining should attend a sports facility/activity.


Clubs and participants should be aware that the easing of restrictions does not mean that all facilities/venues will open immediately. Clubs will require time to consider all the implications of opening facilities/venues and put plans in place to set up operations that ensure the safety of participants and volunteers. This is a difficult time for everyone so please be patient.

The information outlined below is generic and should be used to inform the development of suitable SCRA club specific guidance which can be shared with participants, local authorities/trusts, third sector and venue operators.

  1. Appoint a Covid Officer to consider & control activities at your Club at this time. This could be an existing member of the Club’s Management Committee but must be someone willing to take on this responsibility. They may not be popular as activity commences, and they need to remind members of the procedures you all agree to.
  2. It will help hugely to get the message across to your members if the procedures are demonstrated in a short video and published for members to view before they attend to row.
  3. Risk assessments should be undertaken before activity is permitted. (Andy Rendle, SCRA secretary, has sample copies of Risk Assessments if you require these). This may pick up things which mean the need to make significant changes to the way you operate.
  4. 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
  5. Carefully consider what activities are appropriate and define procedures required to undertake these activities (such as washing of equipment). Once these are agreed write them up and publish to all members, making it a requirement to read and understand them prior to taking part in any activity.
  6. Club committees should check with their insurance company that correct and full insurance cover is in place and valid before any activity takes place.
  7. Only outdoor sport and physical activity should be undertaken at this time with all indoor exercise and changing areas remaining closed.
  8. No spectators, other than where a responsible person is supervising a child or vulnerable adult.
  9. Limits on the number of participants accessing facilities should be risk assessed to ensure physical distancing can be maintained before and after being in the boat. This should take into consideration that at Phase 3 five households (or extended households) can meet at a time outdoors, and no more than 15 people in total at any time.  Consider where you launch from and whether lower limits on the numbers gathering there need to be imposed.
  10. Activity ashore must fully comply with Scottish Government household and physical distancing guidance with appropriate hygiene and safety measures also in place.


It is simply not possible to row, complying with 2 metres social distancing, as the diagram below illustrates.

Red Cirles with 1m radius

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. The latest SG & Sports Scotland guidance relaxes this requirement by the creation of a “field of play bubble”.

A ‘field of play bubble’ can be created during organised sports activity that allows contact whilst the activity is taking place, in effect suspending physical distancing guidelines for the duration of the activity.  Normal physical distancing guidelines will however apply before and after the activity takes place. Participants are also encouraged to wash themselves and their clothes as soon as practically possible after the activity.

Everyone entering this “field of play bubble” should be aware that this is departure from what they have been used to and accept that this is the case. No-one should be pressured in to taking part if they are in any way uncomfortable with this relaxation of the social distancing rules.

A potential risk to be considered is the slipstream effect, involving contact with exhaled air from other crew members. In the context of sliding seat rowing crew are seated one behind the other, resulting in the potential
for this air to pass along the crew. They also tend to row on sheltered flat waters with relatively static air. The nature of our activity in itself mitigates against this: SCRA fixed seat clubs tend to use crew boats with offset seating positions, and row on open expanses of water where the surface conditions and subsequent boat movement, combined with stronger and more erratic wind conditions, will be disruptive to any potential slipstream effect. However, clubs should consider whether any further mitigation is required.  We have recommended below that the cox wears a face covering and would, of course, encourage any other crew members to follow suit if they felt it appropriate. You may also want to consider other mitigations such as hand signals to replace regular verbal instruction from the cox, restricting the length of outings and focusing on pleasure outings at this
time rather than competitive training outings.

In short, from 24th August 2020, we can

  • Launch, row and recover boats with up to five households in them
  • Immediately before and after the activity we need to socially distance
  • Between uses the boat and equipment needs to be washed down

We suggest that the boats and equipment are washed down by each crew before they are used and again after they are used. This further protects the crews where there may have been accidental contact after the boat was put back into storage, but before it is used again.

Coaches and others supporting organised activity should attempt to keep physically distant where possible, but it is recognised that this will not always be possible. In such circumstances the ‘Covid Officer’ should consider appropriate mitigating actions as part of the risk assessment.

Has your club prepared itself?

  • Do you need to change some of the ways that we do things? Yes
  • Taking part in organising events will require a different risk assessment, has it been done?
  • 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.

SCRA Guidance when rowing resumes:

  1. Do not attempt to go rowing if you feel unwell, or have any symptoms consistent with Covid 19, regardless of whether this may result in a row being cancelled.
  2. For ‘Test & Protect’ purposes keep a log of who is out rowing in each crew and when.
  3. Consider safe management of those requiring assistance to get in / out of boats and whether this is possible within current advice and personnel.
  4. Use your own, clean equipment (water bottles, clothing, VHFs 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.
  5. Wash your hands before and after rowing. If you wear gloves, ensure your gloves are clean each time.
  6. Follow Scottish Government advice with regard to face coverings (this may change over time). In particular we would recommend that the cox wears a face covering. The face covering is to protect others, not the wearer.
  7. Any ‘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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Wash / wipe down your kit when you get home, including your gloves.
  11. Wash your hands after your activity, and before you engage in other activity.
  12. Further consideration will be necessary for those with club houses or undertaking boat building and routine maintainance.

Remember that although what you are doing is now permitted, 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 is happy for you to use whatever facility you need to use to get on the water.  Follow the SCRA guidance 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.

If you or your Club has any questions relating to this guidance, please email them to the SCRA Secretary. We have a dedicated Sub-group who will respond to your queries if made in this manner. SCRA is the National Governing Body for Fixed Seat Rowing in Scotland.

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Scottish Coastal Rowing gains Charitable Status


At last year’s AGM, members voted in favour of the SCRA committee pursuing charitable status by becoming a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation). We are delighted to confirm that our application, which was submitted to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, was approved on the first attempt! 

SCRA is the Governing Body for Fixed Seat Rowing in Scotland, as well as being the class association for the St Ayles Skiff, Picnic Class, and Jolly Boat. Becoming a SCIO will help future-proof the SCRA, make us even more publicly accountable and transparent as well as offering us a modern structure for robust governance.

We will still be ‘known’ as the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, but our legal title will be Scottish Coastal Rowing. Fittingly, our registered address will be care of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, in Anstruther, where the story began.

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Castle to Crane 2020: Join us from your Home Waters 19/20 September

We are very keen to go ahead with Castle to Crane Race, but this year we are holding back from bringing everyone to the River Clyde. Instead we are inviting crews of any fixed seat rowing boats, wherever in the world they are, to join us by undertaking a 5 mile (or 8047 meter) time trial on their own waters and submit their own time for the Castle to Crane Race (Home Waters International Edition) 2020. This will hopefully allow the maximum number of people to get back onto competition on the water, and recognises that getting everyone to travel to be together in the one place may still not be wise come September.

Entries for this rowing from home challenge will open in a couple of weeks. Entry is open in any fixed seat rowing boat and we very much hope that all the major classes will be represented. Usually Castle to Crane is undertaken in coxed boats, but for the 5 mile time trial we are happy to receive entries from boats that are normally rowed without a cox such as Picnic Class Boats and several classes of Curragh.

There will be a 48 hour window of participation over the weekend of the 19/ 20 of September 2020. We are happy for the same boat to be used by more than one crew, and rowers can row in more than one crew, provided each 5 mile time trial is completed within the window. More information [e.g. entry fee, rules] to follow … still finalising some details. Keep your eye on the Castle to Crane Race webpages for updates. Enter the time trial with optimism and confidence. We have an “alternative challenge” lined up for any crews that find they are unable to complete the course on the water together for whatever reason. Go coastal rowers!

Castle to Crane: 5 Mile Time Trial on your home waters, 19/20 September 2020
Crews Passing Dumbarton Castle (photo Steve Thomson)

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Ten Years of Scottish Coastal Rowing

Congratulations to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association on how far it and the community it serves has come since it was formed on 29 May 2010.

On the Start Line, Anstruther 2010

The SCRA was formed at the very first St Ayles Skiff regatta, which was attended by skiffs from Anstruther, Cockenzie & Port Seton, Portobello, Coigach, Ullapool and North Berwick. They were all new to the sport, and indeed the North Berwick boat was launched for the first time ever shortly before the first race. These communities and others had been building St Ayles skiffs under the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, an initiative developed by the Scottish Fisheries Museum and Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats. The Project involved the Scottish Fisheries Museum commissioning Iain Oughtred to design a boat, which Alec Jordan could supply as a kit to communities for construction. The idea initially was to resurrect coastal rowing on the Fife coast, but the Project was so successful that six months after its launch skiffs were in build all around Scotland.

The six clubs with skiffs were joined at a meeting during the regatta by representatives of other clubs, including Dunbar, Royal West of Scotland (Greenock), Eyemouth and Queensferry. The meeting founded the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, and formally adopted three key documents: The SCRA constitution, the SCRA Rules of Racing, and the Measurement Rules for the St Ayles Skiff class. Robbie Wightman of North Berwick, Ian Clark of Royal West, and Topher Dawson of Ullapool were elected as Convenor, Secretary and Treasurer. The Association acknowledged (and continues to acknowledge) the great debt it owes to those who were involved in the preceding Project. The influence of bodies such as the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, Irish Coastal Rowing Federation, and Shetland Yoal Racing Association must also be acknowledged for providing inspiration. However it was important that the new sport of Coastal Rowing was organised by and on behalf of those who were actually taking part in it. Except for the racing organised by SYRA in Shetland, there had been no inter-club coastal rowing in Scotland for decades. Thus the need for the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, its rules and structures.

In the first season of racing regattas were held at Anstruther, Portobello, Eyemouth, North Queensferry, Portsoy, Cumbrae, and North Berwick. At least one rower managed to race at every regatta in the season, something that is no longer possible. The sport has grown so much that on some weekends four or five regattas can be on at the same time in different corners of Scotland.

Convenor of SCRA Stuart Mack (stroke) and Past Convenor Robbie Wightman (bow) enjoying a row with other SCRA committee members at Portsoy

SCRA has been a forum for clubs to share the knowledge that they have built up. The strength of the Association comes from the clubs that form it, and the work and dedication that goes in to keeping those clubs going. Each club generally starts with a group of enthusiasts wanting to build a boat. The SCRA completed and hosted the instructions for building St Ayles Skiffs. Sharing knowledge has always been an important function for SCRA. The association has gone on to develop guidance and training for coxes, rowers and umpires.

Most of the events that rowers take part in are organised by SCRA clubs.  SCRA keeps a calendar of events, so that everyone can plan where their blisters will come from. SCRA itself though has organised major events that bring the clubs together, including Castle to Crane (a 13 mile race from Dumbarton to Glasgow in September each year), touring events (the Jacobire Muster, RowAround Scotland) the Freshwater Sprints (held in October each year, and raced by regional teams) and of course SkiffieWorlds, the world championships for the St Ayles Class. 

The St Ayles skiff movement became a world wide phenomenon fairly early on. The first overseas builds were in the United States. These were joined by builds in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Netherlands, with more countries joining later. The SCRA assumed responsibility as International Class Association, and spread good practice and (with varying degrees of success) compliance with the measurement rules, so that international racing could be fair and successful.

The idea for Skiffieworlds came from Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club. After a competitive bid process, SCRA (acting now as Worldwide Class Association for the St Ayles skiff) asked Ullapool to host the first Skiffieworlds, which it did superbly in a glorious week in July 2013.

Skiffieworlds 2013 at Ullapool

The St Ayles Skiff movement became increasingly international. Skiffieworlds 2016 was awarded by SCRA to SLLP, and hosted on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

Strangford (Photo: Allan Robertson)

SkiffieWorlds 2019 was held in a July week in Stranraer.  It was attended by more than 30,000 spectators.  It featured over 1,500 athletes and the economic impact on the area of the event has been independently assessed at between £3.5million and £4million. SCRA is passing the responsibility for awarding and organising SkiffieWorlds to a new body, St Ayles Skiff International (SASI), who will announce in due course where SkiffieWorlds 2022 will be held.

St Ayles Skiff International agreement at Stranraer

register of the St Ayles that have been launched can be found elsewhere on this site.  Also check our clubfinder to see if there is a skiff near you.

With the formation of other national class associations, and St Ayles Skiff International, SCRA can concentrate more on the functions that it performs for its member clubs closer to home. The sport of fixed seat rowing continues to grow in Scotland, with 80 or so member clubs of the SCRA, with another 20 or so SYRA clubs, giving the opportunity for thousands to participate in fixed seat rowing every year. A variety of fixed seat boats are now in use, with Teifi Skiffs, Cobbles, Jollyboats, Celtic Longboats, Pilot Gigs joining the St Ayles Skiffs and Shetland Yoals at events such as Castle to Crane. The SCRA Picnic Class continues to grow, with a championship race at the Freshwater Sprints each year.

It is, of course, a bit of a shame that we are celebrating our 10th Birthday at a time when no one is out on the water in St Ayles Skiffs because of a global pandemic. Our major birthday celebration is Rowaround Scotland, and positively it is going ahead. Please do follow our virtual progress on the RowAround Scotland website.

SCRA has come a long way in ten years, and continues to grow. The friendships that have build up in our communities and between communities is its greater acheivement. SCRA is not just about boats, it is about people, great people at that.

Many folk are owed thanks, from those behind the project that started all this off, the past and present members of the SCRA committee, the clubs and member committees, and all those who have taken part with enthusiasm and a real sense of community. Happy Birthday.

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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 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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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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