Nineteen rowers and coxswains representing Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) are off to Stranraer, Scotland for “Skiffie Worlds” July 8 – 13. This will be the third time that LCMM will have crews in the regatta, which serves as the world championships for the St. Ayles Skiff class of rowing craft every three years.
The historic coastal village of Stranraer, in the southwest of Scotland, will swell by several thousand during the week-long series of races on the saltwater Loch Ryan, where over 693 crews from 52 clubs representing at least eight nations, will compete on the 2000 meter (1.25 mi.) course. The LCMM team will not be the farthest travelers. At least one club will travel from Australia, and another from San Francisco, to race against other age-class rowers from the Netherlands and France, but predominantly from the British Isles and Ireland.
LCMM’s team leader Tim Cowan, of Vergennes, explains that LCMM’s squad will actually be made up not only of local Vermont rowers, but also members of clubs in Hull and Gloucester, Massachusetts. “In past years there was not quite enough interest at our club to field a full team, so we have traditionally invited friends from these “sister” clubs in Massachusetts. Interest has grown enough, though, so we might need to break into two groups by the time the next championships roll around in 2022.”
“It has been a great experience for us all, building friendships with our team-mates, the Hull and Gloucester clubs and the clubs from the U.K. and Europe. We have especially grown close to a club from Cockenzie and Port Seton, on the east coast of Scotland, which graciously lent us our boat and equipment when we went to Worlds in Northern Ireland in 2016, and again now for Stranraer.”
The St. Ayles Skiff is a 22-foot long wooden boat in the style of a traditional work boat from the North Sea. It’s powered by a four-person crew each pulling one sweep (11-12’ oar). A coxswain steers and gives directions from the stern. Most of the boats are hand-made by the clubs rowing them, and there are over 60 such clubs in Scotland alone. Skiffie Worlds is organized and sanctioned by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.
Update: We are excited to announce that our veteran ladies team made the finals! See below for a gallery of images, courtesy of Holly Weber, and stay tuned for more stories from our rowers at the Skiffie Worlds.