Troon Expand Fleet with Wemyss Skiff “Lady Isle”

Troon Coastal Rowing Club launched their club built Wemyss skiff on the 30th March 2019. After a ballot of club members the skiff was named “Lady Isle”. Prestwick Coastal Rowing Club and Carrick Coastal Rowing Club along with Troon’s own two St Ayles Skiffs welcomed “Lady Isle” into the water.

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Western Isles Series

Two regattas are signed up as part of the Western Isles series. It is hoped that a third may be added. Western Isles based boats should try to attend both, and visitors are very welcome to bring along their skiffs and to experience the events (ceilidhs after each of them). There is an upper limit on numbers of entries, so get in contact sooner rather than later. See the posters below for Stornoway(1 June) and Tarbert (27 July) events, complete with contact information. It is great to have a series in the Western Isles, where there are now so many skiffs, so please do try to support the events if you can.

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SCRA Life Jacket Guidance

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association’s Rules of Racing insist that Personal Flotation Devices (eg Lifejackets) must be worn by all crew members whenever they are on the water on a race day. Most, perhaps even all, clubs also insist on the wearing of PFD during training or recreation outings in club owned boats.  They choice of PFD, fit and maintainance remain the responsibility of the individual and their club. However here are some tips which we hope you you will find useful.

Harness Style Life-Jacket

This is the most commonly used type of PFD in coastal rowing. An inflatable bladder is stored inside a cover that will pop open when the bladder is inflated. The bladder is secured to a webbing arrangement which goes over the shoulder and has a buckle around the waist. Even uninflated, this type of life jacket is useful in a rescue situation as it gives hand holds to for a rescuer to use when hauling a casualty aboard a rescue boat.

A harness style life-jacket can be either auto-inflate (a device in the firing mechanism will cause the life jacket to inflate when it is submerged in the water), or manual inflate (a toggle attached to the firing mechanism has to be pulled by the casualty before the life jacket will inflate and help at all with buoyancy. An unconscious casualty cannot manually inflate a life jacket, which is why some prefer auto-inflation. However if you are trapped under an upturned skiff you will be hampered in getting clear of the skiff if your life jacket has inflated, which is why at least one club has moved entirely from auto-inflate to manual following a broaching incident. SCRA has a video of a life jacket being deployed.

Foam cell buoyancy aid: This is a waistcoat style, which relies on the material within it to support the rower in the water. It will have less buoyancy that a full life jacket, and will not cause an unconscious casualty to float with their face above water. Particularly for the younger rower it can give a better fit, and does not rely on any other actions or parts to start working. It is easier to swim and self rescue wearing a buoyancy aid than a fully inflated life jacket.

“Bumbag” or “Pouch” or “belt pack” Lifejacket

Many rowers like these life jackets because they are less likely to get in the way of the rowing stroke. However properly worn, the pouch should be at the front and not the back. They are more complicated to deploy, at a time when complication may be the last thing that is needed.

Pouch Style Lifejacket

 It requires to be pulled over the head at the point when it is needed. It is not clear whether this must be done before or after inflation.  Users should ensure that they are clear as to how a lifejacket should be used before putting it on. The bladder of the pouch type is not strapped down to the back of the wearer’s waist belt like other lifejackets, and is held from popping off the wearer’s head only by the tightness of its fit and the the angle of the wearer’s head, although in some types ribbons may be included which need to be tied when in the water.

Wear your Life Jacket Correctly

Fit- Make sure that the straps are adjusted so that your life jacket fits well. Test this by placing your fist under the buckle. If there is a gap between your fist and your body, your life jacket is too loose. You may have to adjust your life jacket fit as you take off layers of clothing. See the RNLI video on fitting your life jacket.

Crotch Straps help keep the life jacket in the correct place to have a casualty floating safely with their head above the water. Crotch straps should be worn if fitted (although some rowers cannot tolerate wearing them whilst actively rowing). Educate yourself on why a well fitted lifejacket with crotch straps is better by watching this video.

Check and Maintain your Lifejacket

Look after your life jacket so that it will look after you. You should check fairly regularly for visual signs of damage, and also that the cannister is in good condition and has not worked loose. The RNLI had a useful film on undertaking checks. Annual professional service is also recommended, and early replacement of any life jacket that is no longer reliable.


Individual rowers should take responsibility for ensuring that the lifejacket or buoyancy aid that they wear is appropriate for the type of activity they are taking part in, is checked and maintained and is properly fitted. Clubs can of course assist with this by providing policies, information and guidance, and take responsibility for checking and servicing club owned life jackets . Clubs should formally risk assess their activities, and use the outcome of that risk assessment to inform their policies with regard to use of PFD as a part of reducing the severity of identified risks. Clubs should keep a record of the life jackets they supply, when they have been checked and serviced and any issues identified.

A life jacket is useless unless worn, but is also likely to be useless if it is poorly fitted, or has not been looked after.

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Coastal Rowing on the River Ayr

It is always a privilege to be involved in exploring a piece of water new to the rowing world. A partnership of South Ayrshire Council,The University of the West of Scotland and Ayr Academy are considering introducing various water sports to the River Ayr. To help with this Troon Coastal Rowing was invited to carry out a trial row. On  the 7th March Troon launched on the river and carried out rows both up river and down river. They are told that they were the first wooden boat on the river in fifty years.

Robert Burns, reminds us that at this time of year, creeping up rivers can be a good idea to get away from the stormy seas of the firth:

The tide-swoln firth, with sullen-sounding roar,
Through the still night dash’d hoarse along the shore. 
All else was hush’d as Nature’s closed e’e; 
The silent moon shone high o’er tower and tree; 
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam, 
Crept, gently-crusting, o’er the glittering stream

Although to be fair, Burns might have been influenced a bit by drink when he was writing a poem describing the conversation between the Auld and New Bridges over the river.

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SCRA Youth Series 2019

Since 2017 a a new series of regattas for Scottish Coastal Rowing Clubs has been established.  The SCRA Youth series was aimed at encouraging junior rowers, from ages of around 15 to 18 to take up coastal rowing and meet up for friendly competition and more.  Each regatta in the series is organised by an SCRA member club, and guaranteed to have races for boys, girls and mixed crews at under 19 and under 17 age groups.  The series is divided into two circuits, North and South, although clubs could enter any of the regattas they wished.

In the past regattas Youth Series regattas have been organised at Portsoy by Deveron and PortsoyNorth Berwick, Ullapool, FOCCRs at Largs, Portobello ( by Eastern ARC) and Avoch.

We are very proud of our young rowers, and would really like to see clubs supporting them and this regatta series for another year.  Most regattas struggle to put on more than one or two junior races, just because of the need to fit races into a tight schedule.  The youth series has allowed clubs to bring much larger numbers of juniors along to events.

Youth Series Racing at North Berwick on a pursuit course

If your club would like to host one of the youth series regattas for 2019, please get in touch ASAP with Cameron Hughes of the SCRA committee on .  The wider rowing community and the juniors in particular will appreciate your support.  Guidance on involving youngsters in your club is available elsewhere on the website

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The Picnic Class Series 2019

Pick up a March/ April copy of Watercraft Magazine for an article about the SCRA one person rowing class, the Picnic Class. The SCRA Picnic Class Series for 2019 will consist of the following events:

1 June 2019 – Royal West Regatta – Races will use Royal West Sixteens (rather than your own picnic boats)….. However priority entry given to picnic boat owners. Contact Karen Graham.

15 June 2019 – The Argyll Open – Based near Tayvallich on Loch Sween there will be informal races in the morning and then a picnic expedition, probably to the stunning Faerie Isles in the afternoon. Thereafter the opportunity for an overnight camping expedition for those that want it. Contact Ben Wilde:

31 August – The Nith Raid – 10 Miles with a strong flood tide among potentially dangerous sandbanks. Racing against sailing boats also. Contact: Mark Zygadlo –

26 October – Freshwater Sprints – Mens and Womens sprint races for the Picnic Class Trophy. contact Robbie Wightman

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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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