Iain Oughtred draws the boat that will bring coastal rowing races back to Scotland

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St Ayles skiff

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 Museum in 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.

There are, we’re told, no rowing races in Fife apart from the Newburgh World Coble Boat Championship.

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.

For more, read the leaflet and prospectus. I gather the building project will be covered in Water Craft magazine.

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