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
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 weblogauthor 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!
Interested readers may also want to see some snatches of video of the skiff at Chris’s YouTube channel:
Builder and key powerhouse behind the project Alec Jordan reports that the Iain Oughtred-designed boat is a joy to row, as she’s stable and fast at the same time. The photos above are courtest of Alec, who must be very proud.
The boat is to be officially launched at the Scottish Fisheries Museumin Anstruther on Saturday 31 October at 11am. Once the formalities are over there will be a chance to row the boat – if you’d like a go, please contact Alec by email at email@example.com.
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Iain Oughtred’s initial drawings for the St Ayles skiff
The Scottish Coastal Rowing Project is a new initiative intended to encourage boat building and rowing racing in Scottish coastal communities.
Based at the Scottish Fisheries Museumin Anstruther, its plan is to re-start the intercommunity rowing competition that for many years was a strong feature of life in the coastal communities of Scotland.
Until the 1960s there was a considerable interest in boating in the mining communities in Central Fife, and a strong fisheries industry in the East Neuk, and these communities held their own regattas on a regular basis using their own local boat types.However, where these regattas have continued, they are generally run by sailing clubs using largely mass-produced GRP yachts and dinghies, with the exception of Dysart Sailing Club, where I gather a few traditional boats are still raced.
I guess the organisers have looked long and hard at the wonderfully successful resurgence and spread of interest in racing pilot gigs from the Scilly Islands and Cornwall – no doubt there was a danger that this kind of racing could have appeared in Scotland, but in Cornish boats!
The folks behind the SCRP have wisely commissioned Iain Oughtred to design a suitable clinker ply boat based on the lines of the Fair Isle skiff and to be called the St Ayles skiff, while kit supplier Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats is on board to supply the cut parts for the project. Iain’s beautiful initial drawing appears above.
The first boat will be made from a kit cut by Alec over the winter of 2009-10. The process will be recorded and placed on a website as a tutorial for other builders to follow, and the kits are estimated to cost about £1350, with the complete boat costing around £3000 in materials. I should add that a sailing rig is also planned.