The Scottish Coastal Rowing Project’s St Ayles skiff is launched in fine style

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The St Ayles skiff slices the water; Dr Robert Prescott speaking at the launch; David Tod with Alec Jordan; proof that St Ayles skiff designer Iain Oughtred was present. All images used with Chris Perkins’ permission

Last Saturday provided pretty well perfect conditions for the press launch of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project’s first St Ayles skiff, says Chris Perkins.

He has kindly written the following report, sent the photos above and provided the video links below. Many thanks Chris! It’s particularly good to hear that the project seems to be snowballing in various locations around Scotland – and even abroad.

‘Among the notables present at the press launch were Alec Jordan, whose original brainwave kicked the whole thing off and whose superb effort in the workshop over the past two months culminated in Saturday’s event. Scottish Fisheries Museum trustee and chair of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project David Tod introduced Dr Robert Prescott, chair of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships and vice president of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, who gave the project launch speech. It was great that Iain Oughtred was also able to attend the launch and try the boat out for himself after the formalities were over.

‘The Forthsailoar weblog author Osbert Lancaster was also present along with naval architect Richard Pierce who has provided some very useful analysis on the prototype’s performance. Boat Building Academy graduate and now professional builder Charlie Hussey also put in an appearance.

‘My snaps suggest around 50 were at the speechifying. Having a goodly sized group including some who were very experienced trying the boat has helped fine-tune the design: the principal tweak will be to spread the thwarts to give more room for the oarsmen.

‘This will also benefit the trim of the boat when coxed by an adult with a fuller figure!

‘Representatives from some of the groups planning to build a St Ayles skiff were there including the Portobello Sailing and Kayaking Club, the North Berwick group and Anstruther RNLI. The ripples from this project keep expanding: apart from the prototype now on the water, the Scottish Fisheries Museum boat is now in build in the viewing gallery at the museum, and Ullapool 1, Portobello 1, and The North Berwick Rowing Club have placed orders. There is strong interest from Achiltibuie (Coigach), Anstruther RNLI, Glasgow Schools Pilot (Galgael), Herdecke, Port Seton, Portobello 2, Portsoy Faering Project 1 & 2, Tollcross Centre, Edinburgh and even Germany. The breaking news is that there is now strong interest in in building four boats in the Western Isles, but more likely and interest has been expressed by another Loch Broom group.

‘Alec was tweaking the cutting files yesterday to expand the rooms and will then start cutting the kits already ordered.

‘The boat had at least four different sets of crew so that means not less than 20 took the opportunity to try her out – though I may have missed another group because I couldn’t resist inspecting the museum, very worthwhile for anybody visiting Anstruther. And, of course, I thought it was also getting dangerously close to Alec suggesting I have a turn at the oar!

‘Cheers

‘Chris’

Interested readers may also want to see some snatches of video of the skiff at Chris’s YouTube channel:

Charlie Hussey (mentioned above) also got a good clip of the boat in action that’s worth seeing.

And, finally, for much more on this project at intheboatshed.net, click here!

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