Saturday, 20 January 2018

More about the joys of Skiffing (not the Lonny Donegan type)

Imagine sporting events taking place with hundreds of participants, thousands of spectators, police and ambulance people about but no arrests and no injuries! In Scotland! Welcome to the World of Scottish Coastal Rowing.

Ullapool 2013

Imagine over 400 rowers in a total of 75 traditional rowing boats racing from Dumbarton to the Glasgow city centre, again nobody got arrested or hurt, apart from a few blisters! Welcome to Clydebuilt Festival 2017, due to be repeated on 15 September 2018.

Anster's finest at full stretch

There was even time to launch couple of new traditionally built boats. Glasgow's great Lord Provost Eva Bolander, herself a rower, wearing the gold chain.

Spot the mystery man in the crowd

From quiet beginnings a few years ago skiffing has grown and grown, been exported world-wide, become the major keep-fit exercise for thousands of people, many of whom never imagined they would ever take up an oar, linked communities through common interest and gentle, occasionally strenuous, but always good-natured competition, with virtually all funding raised within the communities.

Perhaps because we don't make constant demands for public funding, don't use carbon fibre, don't buy our boats from the boating industry, have fun, row to coastal pubs, have picnics on islands, invite strangers along to join us, we are virtually ignored by government agencies such as Scottish Rowing, the self-proclaimed "governing body for rowing in Scotland". The annual subscription to that outfit, with its team of sport administrators and experts, would be twice the total annual budget of my home club, Isle of Seil Coastal Rowing! No thanks.

The top image is of our crew battling it out in Ullapool at the skiffieworlds in 2013, a few weeks after we launched our Selkie, an event hosted by the always innovative Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club.

Musical skiff Sephira in the foreground

We were represented at the 2016 event in Northern Ireland with the help of some wonderful rowers imported specially from the United States, although our resources didn't stretch to taking the Selkie over.

We are now working towards the 2019 Worlds in Stranraer and hope to be there in force with the skiff Selkie and a mixed crew of Seilachs and friends from near and far.

Clarification for younger folk, Lonny Donegan did skiffling, not skiffing!

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The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water