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The Argyll Open is a regatta and picnic expedition for SCRA “Picnic Class” boats. A small but perfectly formed fleet assembled on Caol Scotnish, near Tayvallich on the morning of 15 June 2015. Racing was by way of time trial over a course on the very sheltered waters of the sea loch.

Local rower Ben Wilde of Archipelago Folkschool was fastest over the course in a time of 12 minutes 30 seconds. Ben was rowing a Clint Chase designed Caravelle rowing boats built on one of the Archipelago Folkschool’s one week boat building courses. A rower from Gullane Aquatics took silver in 12:44, with Tayvallich taking the bronze in 12:55. Best of the rest was Robbie Wightman of North Berwick Rowing Club in 13:05. None of the ladies present were willing to lay down a time, so there is still a vacancy for the title of first ladies Argyll Open champion….. hopefully to be filled next year. The winner received a prize of tablet made by Mrs A.J. Jack of West Kilbride, presented by her daughter. Well done all.

The Winner Starting his time trial

After the racing…….. on with the picnic expedition! The boats made their way towards the head of Caol Scotnish, and landed on Witches Isle for their picnic. A fascinating place with medieval ruins and probably remains of a later fortified dwelling. It probably got its name from being a place where difficult women were exiled to, where they could be kept safely away from the rest of the community but their skills could be used when required. All the women from the picnic party were brought safely back to the slip on the mainland from where the boats were recovered.

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On Thursday June 6, a collective group of (about 85) students from Mr. Suter’s classes launched their newest project boat at the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May thanks to the support of Captain Robert Bredehoft and the membership there.

                The actual craft is a St. Ayles Skiff designed to be built in kit form by the Scottish boat builder Ian Oughtred who has seen his creation distributed to clubs and schools worldwide.

                This boat is the second of 2 St. Ayles Skiff kits purchased from Hewes and Co. of Maine by our School District and the Maritime Museum of Cape May.  Christopher Kobik our superintendent saw these kits as a vessel (use the pun if you like!)  to engage students and let them experience long term cooperative learning in a manner they may not have access to later on.   I (Matt Suter- Special Education Teacher-28 years) am charged with overseeing the construction of the boat and implementing the build into my regular World Cultures classroom.

                The construction process has had to run at the pace of the students working on it as they have academic classwork to complete as well.   Part of my guidance was to have them focus on the specific job at hand, try something new and show them how what they are doing contributes to the whole and to trust the process.   It has been fun.

                I have dedicated this boat and build to Mr. Bill Noe and the boat will have his name.  Bill was also a Special Education teacher here at LCMR and really inspired me to not only become an educator but a forever learner as well.  Thanks Bill. 

                Both builds to date have been awesome to work on but absolutely could not have happened without my colleague, Kelly McConnell-Hussey, who has been there with me from the beginning.  Others who have been key players in support of these projects include Mark Haibach, Jeff Martin,  Roy Olsen and his fine crew, and our school administrative staff who have really provided me with all I need to keep going.  Which is great as our next build is a Caledonia Yawl sailboat!

 Matt Suter

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At Stranraer for the St Ayles Skiff World Championships we will be racing on a 2000 meter course. There is a 180 degree turn at the half way point, and there will be a turning buoy for each of the up to 15 boats in each race. The buoys will be Lomo buoys, like the ones in the photograph below.

The buoys are only 20meters apart, which may sound a lot, but remember that with oars out our boats are around 7 meters wide. We need all crews coming into the turn to make a tight turn, and turn the whole 180 degrees before setting off again. This will prevent collisions, disqualifications, and spoiling anyones day.

Crews should aim to hit the buoys (which will fall over) and have the buoy pass under the oars. All crews must bear in mind the following rules:

8.5.1 ………. crews should remain in their drawn lanes throughout the race.

8.5.2 In races where each boat has their own allocated turning buoy boats approaching their turn shall give way to those coming out of their turn. All boats shall turn their buoy in the same direction, which will be to starboard unless stated otherwise in race instructions.

8.6 At turns the whole hull and rudder must round the turning mark.

8.7 If the hulls of two boats collide during the course of a race, the presumption is that the safety of the crews is being compromised, and that disqualification of one or both crews should occur.

If a crew does not hit the buoy, or sets off before they have turned sufficiently it will be assumed that crew has not remained in their drawn lane if there is any hint of the crew impeding the progress of another crew, and they will face a sanction at the discretion of the umpire, possibly disqualification. If crews are in their lanes, there should be no need for approaching crews to give way to crews coming off the mark.

At Stranraer the umpires will be using drones at the turning marks, to view the turns and assist with decision making both during the race and in any necessary review process.

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Picture by Chris Murray

Chrunnich sia eathraichean ionadail còmhla an-dè gus pàirt a gabhail ann an Regatta Iomradh Steòrnabhaigh. Bha ràmhaich à Glaschu agus Fiobha is Duitsich sna rèisean. Thàinig an sgioba againn dhachaigh le duisean sa chiad àite- boireannaich fo 40, darna sa rèis fosgailte agus treas àite airson boireannaich thairis 40. Ged a bha an t-sìde rudeigin fluich bha deagh latha againn. 


Six Lewis skiffs took part in Regatta Iomradh Steòrnabhagh on Saturday 1st June 2019. West Side Rowers, Rowflo, Stornoway RC, An Eathar RC, Bluemoon RC and Eala Bhan raced in the 1.2nm course. The triangular route had to be shortened due to wind but great fun was had by all ; despite the rain!  This year the regatta was organised in association with Sail Stornoway and Stornoway Port Authority. Rowers from Glasgow, The Netherlands and Fife joined in the races. Big thanks to Chris Mitchell from Kinghorn Rowing Club who umpired the races and to HMCG for keeping all the spectators safe.  The overall award went to Ràmhaich Taobh Siar. 

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Orkney Rowing Club (ORC) travelled to visit our north neighbours in Shetland to participate in the Bigton annual rowing regatta which was held on Saturday 1st June.  Bigton holds a special place in ORC’s heart as our first yoal, the Fridarey, was bought 5 years ago from Bigton Rowing Club.  She was built in 2005 by Fair Isle boat builder Ian Best who also built our yoal, the Rinansey in 2016.  Shetland yoals differ from St Ayles Skiffs as the yoals see 6 rowers spread evenly over 3 seats.

ORC had a group of twelve rowers participating in the regatta, the venue is the beautiful spot of St Ninian Isle on Shetland with gorgeous sandy beaches.

Orkney participated in 6 races and enjoyed every minute of the close sprint racing over a 1K course.

There were daytime activities including a BBQ, soup, sandwiches, teas and coffees, ice-cream, sand-castle competition and beer tent.  After the rowing, live music was provided by the splendid local band, David Sandison and the Tennessee Wannabees, whilst outside a beach bonfire provided warmth.


Unfortunately we won no trophies this time around, however there were some close and hotly contested races, with the veteran mixed race having 1 second between 1st and 3rd place, ORC coming 3rd.  We also gained 3rd place in the Veteran men’s race with two women in the crew.

Next year Orkney will host and we look forward to welcoming crews from Shetland to compete for the inter-island trophies.

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There were a lot of colourful gazebos and happy faces yesterday at Queensferry.
Thank you all Crail ,Eskmuthe ,Broughty ,Portsoy ,Wormit ,Kinghorn ,St Andrews ,Eastern ,N Queensferry for a great friendly,competitive day .

Full regatta report to follow

Spectators watching the action

Results on the board

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A great day of coastal rowing at RWSABC today with teams from Anstruther (St Ayles RC), Arran, Firth of Clyde, North Berwick, Portobello (Row Porty), Troon competing in various categories over a 2km course with 2 90° turns along the Esplanade. And the sun shone!

Lots of close racing and helping out with other crews which makes for a relaxed yet competitive regatta which was good fun!

Anstruther won the Open Men’s, Women’s, Mixed and Women’s 50+ races with North Berwick winning the Men’s 50+ and Arran the Mixed 50+ and the Andy race (which was also counting for points for the boat.) Overall it was a joint win for Anstruther and North Berwick with Arran coming in 3rd. Full report to follow.

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The schedule for races in Skiffieworlds 2019 has been published. There have been some minor tweaks from the draft schedule, in order to fit in the number of heats required. We are delighted to have over 700 crews entered to race at Stranraer, but it does mean we need to schedule around 100 races, so we are having by far the biggest regatta there has ever been for St Ayles skiffs. Those affected by the changes are those lucky enough to qualify for some of the finals, who will now find that their final is the day after their heat. Please check the schedule now (by clicking on the link above) so that you know when you are racing, particularly if you qualify for the final. Men Open Final is now on the Thursday, Women Open Final is on the Friday and Mixed Open A final is on the Saturday. Mixed 40+ final is on the Thursday. Men 50+ and Women 50+ finals are on the Friday. Mixed 50+ final is on the Wednesday. The lane draw, which will determine which heats crews are in, has yet to take place.

Your route to the final depends on how many heats there are in your category:

Where there are 16 or fewer entries in a category, there are no heats, just a straight final.

Where there are two heats, the first six or seven crews in each heat will progress to the final. You will be advised of whether it is 6 or 7 prior to the race commencing. Qualification for all finals is determined by position within the qualifying heat or repechage. Times between heats are not compared.

Where there are three heats, the first five crews in each heat will progress to the final.

Where there are four heats, the first three from each heat will progress straight to the final. Those placed fourth, fifth and sixth in each heat will progress to a repechage. This gives those crews a second chance to qualify for the final. The first three crews in the repechage will join the other qualifiers in the final.

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Rowing Clubs came from far and wide to join in with a flotilla in late May 2019, crossing Scotland in celebration of the re-opening of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Navigation after a lenghty closure due to maintainance issues. Clubs taking part were: Renegade-Ayrshire, Sutors Skiffies-Cromarty, Eskmuthe, Elie, St. Andrews, Lochcarron, Dunbar, Cockenzie and Port Seton( with 3 skiffs), St Ayles (Anstruther) and Andres and his sister in their picnic boat from Portobello.

On the Wheel – Pic Chritine Mincher, Dunbar

Friday afternoon started well with the weather gods smiling. The basin at the Falkirk wheel was almost full of canal barges and steamboats puffing around with wisps of smoke everywhere. Seven skiffs and a picnic boat meanwhile arrived, launched into the basin and paddled away to a pontoon through the back where they have the giant plastic balls and you walk on water. Cars, RVs, tents, trailers all somehow moved into car parks or on to the end of tomorrow’s row. The wheel, the only rotating boat lift in the world, slowly turned and the commercial boats had their turns until half past five. It was empty. At 17:30 the steamboats went into their gondola and away up to the top, the second gondola opened for skiffs and in they went.

Skiffs and Steamboats in the Falkirk Wheel

Bob Fleet of Dunbar writes: “Just imagine, 8 boats in a gondola going up into the sky. Halfway up, the wheel was stopped and the skiffs gave an oar salute, the steamboats tooted and the dragon belched steam. They actually stopped the wheel for us-there’s fame. Meanwhile there was a piper playing from the platform in the centre of the wheel. My favourite story of the weekend; his father took him through the axle and shut the door behind him. Then his dad had to walk around inside like a hamster when the wheel turned. Isn’t that how they power it anyway? Then it was back down and on to the food and drink.”


The Canal at Falkirk Wheel

Saturday dawned fine and we’d decided to shortcut our way out of the basin.The canal and steamboats had no option, they had to go through the exit lock. Meanwhile the skiffs took a shortcut…. back out at the slipway, across the grass and down the bank into the Forth Clyde Canal. Thanks for all the willing helpers and the use of Renegade’s launching trolley.

Several boats arrived on Saturday and they too went straight down the bank. There was a bit of confusion while we either flotilled or formated and were to lead off the core group. It was a great opportunity though to see the boats with their fancy dress and bunting. Well done all. At some arbitrary time (canal time seems different and skiff time different still) the fleet set off. Bliss, herons sitting beside the canal and peace and quiet, just the sound of the oars. Two boats launched a bit late and followed on, however they were punished for it, by being held up with the large number of boats passing through the canal.

In a Lock- Pic Chritine Mincher Dunbar

First stop-the bridge….. surprisingly at Bridge Street in Bonnybridge. We chevronned up along the pontoon, the bridge opened and off we went. Lock 17, 18 then 19, under the M80 motorway and on to lock 20. After the first lock we knew the drill and took the same positions in the following. Bob Fleet in the Dunbar boat writes “We were next to the skiff with the six month old baby and in front of the one with the dog. Record set for youngest member of the flotilla by Elie. At the first lock we found out that we could only get eight of the nine boats in. Poor Navaho got left out but there were a few other boats so we knew they’d be up not long after. Subsequently we found out that they came up in a lock to themselves each time…….. there’s posh but if we’d known we could have split the group into two.

“Through lock 20 and on to Auchinstarry across Dullator Moss. A long straight row into the wind. Parts are SSIs and there are reed beds and lots of nesting sites so our birdwatchers twitched as we rowed along .It would be a great place to put a few Mile/Km markers so you could do a wee timed dash (unpowered craft only) or calibrate your speedo if powered and speed limited. It was getting damp now but around a few bends and Auchinstarry Marina. As boats arrived we took most out onto the bank so there’d be a wee bit of room for 70 powered boats arriving. Some clubs left and the rest headed into the Boathouse for soup or coffee or anything hot. We caught up with each others’ tales and adventures .

The skiff fleet was still two boats short. At long last-very long last they arrived. As the main group of skiffs had passed they were held up at the first bridge to let all the steamboats through,then at the locks they had to let everyone else through so sat for three quarters of an hour, then an hour waiting. They’d have caught up if they’d been released and given a can or RedBull each. A bit harsh but there’s a moral in there somewhere. Lesson to us-should have had the radios at front and back so we knew what was happening. Prize giving, hog roast and ceilidh in the marquee finished the evening

Unfortunately by this stage it was very wet indeed and some clubs decided that rather than pitch tents, they would head for home (after a bit of food and dancing).

Three boats were left to represent Scottish Coastal Rowing on the Sunday: s St Andrews, Cromarty and Renegade.  At 10.15 the mini fleet were sent on thier way, I assume by someone from SC.  Apart from the weather the row went well, being able to pass under the 2 low bridges without them being raised or swung.  This did mean that they were well ahead of the rest of the fleet, but arrived at 12.00, the published time.   Thankfully locals were on hand to direct us to the ‘Puffer’, where tables had been reserved.  .   Returning to the marina, still no sign of SC staff, so we just set off, again doing our own thing when back at Auchinstarry.

On the Monday, after a leisurely start a further reduced fleet rowed back towards The Wheel.  We intended to row for an hour out and then turn back.  The bow passenger, one and 2 changed position with each other and 3, 4 and the cox did the same, ( all 3 being Club coxswain).  This way everybody had 80 mins of rowing and 20 of resting or coxing.  The hour out took us nicely to the first lock, where the fleet turned and retraced puddles to Auchinstarry, and having got the boat on the trailer and hitched for towing, we had a pleasant lunch, sitting out on the decking of the Boathouse, before making our way home.

Overall this was a very enjoyable non competitive event.  Members from different Clubs helping each other to manhandle the boats was invaluable and highlighted the ethos of Coastal Rowing.  Staff from Scottish Canals were always friendly, helpful and encouraging, so thank you to them, and to all the organisers of the event, and particularly Bob and Dunbar for liasing on behalf of the SCRA clubs.

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Some great drone footage of skiffs ascending in the Falkirk Wheel, as steam boats from the Steam Boat Association go in the other direction. The Falkirk wheel is a modern marvel of engineering, linking the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. It is the only rotating boat lift in the world. Thank you to Scottish Canals and to the Steam Boat Association.

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