Born out of an idea to try to bring back boat building to the East Neuk village of Anstruther, the journey of the St Ayles skiff all started over ten years ago, here at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, www.scotfishmuseum.org
The idea was to find a boat that could be built that could withstand the conditions of the North Sea, to be safe and stable, and to pass on traditional skills which were of huge importance to the area many years ago. The Museum contacted Iain Oughtred , a boat designer, to help; after looking at some of the vessels in the Museum he was commissioned to design a skiff, based on the Fair Isle skiff. The Museum worked alongside Alec Jordan to produce the plywood kit. Discussions took place with Robbie Wightman from North Berwick and the museum’s idea to bring this project to coastal communities in Fife became a reality.
The concept of building a boat from a kit would possibly have been seen as a ‘bit bonkers’ and if anyone had suggested how big this project could become, they would have been seen as being even more bonkers!
After a several calls to some likeminded people around Scotland, there were soon six clubs hard at work forming their club, raising money and then building their skiff over the winter 2009. On 29 May 2010, all six clubs attended the very first St Ayles skiff regatta in Anstruther and were eager and excited to be on the water together and racing. The footage of this event is amazing and we can now look back and see just how far we can come in developing this sport.
The event was a huge success and showed just how well the skiff was able to handle the local conditions; more importantly it brought together the communities from Anstruther, Ullapool Achiltibuie, Portbello, Port Seton and North Berwick. This is the weekend on which the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed, and these six clubs dotted around Scotland were the first members. The thrill of racing and the camaraderie meant that they went home with great stories to pass on to friends and family. This was the start of something quite phenomenal – ten years on and three World Championships later who knows what will happen in the next ten years!
In July 2020, Scottish Coastal Rowing became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO); appropriately, the permanent mailing address is the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.