Local teams compete in skiff world championships

Coastal rowing teams from Maidens, Troon and Fairlie are set to battle it out in the inaugural St Ayles Skiff World Championships.

The free event takes place in Ullapool, and is taking place against the backdrop of the picturesque Loch Broom from July 8-14, with 32 vessels and up to 800 competitors expected to take part.

The championship is being run under the auspices of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, and will feature teams from Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Australia and the USA. The event, sponsored by the Ullapool Harbour Trust, Aberdeen Asset Management, the Highland Council, and a wide range of local partners, will be officially launched by HRH The Princess Royal.

Alongside the packed programme of racing and have-a-go sessions taking place throughout the week, a number of exciting activities will also be available onshore. Crews and spectators will be able to attend ceilidhs, enjoy traditional music performances, sample local seafoods, and take part in various arts and crafts sessions.

One hotly-anticipated attraction at the championship is The Sephira, a vessel built in Pennsylvania which also doubles as a musical instrument. She is a traditional seaworthy St Ayles skiff augmented with eight long piano wires which can be plucked like a harp. The string length and resonant properties of the hull enable the notes to be played in the same frequency band as whale song.

St Ayles skiffs are 22ft long wooden rowing boats crewed by four oarsmen and a coxswain. The boats were introduced by the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther in an effort to encourage a resurgence of a sport once common in coastal communities. The skiffs are built from a kit, which means they can be put together with a basic knowledge of DIY. As well as coming together to fundraise to buy their own kit, community groups then build it. Group members come together from all walks of life, and most have little-to-no experience in boatbuilding or rowing.

Fiona MacDonald of the Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club – one of the hosts of the event – says the Ross-shire town is the ideal location for the inaugural championships. She adds, “This will be the biggest gathering of skiffs anywhere in the UK and Loch Broom offers a spectacular setting for the first ever world championships.”

Further information on all aspects of the championships is available at www.skiffieworlds.com