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Meet the Vermont rowing team going to the Netherlands

By Meg Salocks, Director of Marketing

This June 25 to July 2, cheer on our local rowing team as they head off to the Netherlands to compete on the global stage. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Rowing will be represented by 21 adults as they participate in Skiffie Worlds, the St. Ayles Skiff World Championship that meets every three years. This year, the international competition will be held in Kortgene, The Netherlands.

Before they set off, we took some time with some of our rowing team to learn more about the group representing Vermont and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at this global event. We hope you enjoy this interview and join us as we cheer on our rowers!

Rowing crews at Skiffie Worlds 2019
Skiff teams in Scotland during Skiffie Worlds 2019
Q: What is Skiffie Worlds?

Skiffie Worlds is the world championships of the St. Ayles Skiff class of rowing boats. It’s held every three years in a different coastal location. Designed to highlight the sport and the welcoming community of skiff rowing and racing, Skiffie Worlds brings together skiff rowing clubs from all around the world to connect and race.

Previous championships have been held at Ullapool, Scotland in 2013; Strangford, Ireland in 2016; and Stranraer, Scotland in 2019. 60 skiffs and more than 1,300 participants have registered for the 2022 Skiffie Worlds to date, with teams hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, USA, The Netherlands, and Canada.

Q: What is a St. Ayles Skiff?

A type of open-water rowing boat also commonly called a coastal rowing boat, the St. Ayles Skiff is a four-oared wooden rowing gig. It is crewed by four sweep rowers and one coxswain. This boat is just one kind of rowing boat that our rowing clubs use at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – we also row Cornish pilot gigs, which are six-oared rowing boats, or other four-oared models.

Vermont skiff rowing team
One of our skiff crews racing in Skiffie Worlds in 2019
Q: Have teams from Vermont or the museum competed in Skiffie Worlds before?

Yes! We (the Maritime Museum) have sent teams to all three previous events in 2013, 2016, and 2019.

The team representing Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Scotland in 2019
The team representing Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Scotland in 2019
Q: Who is on the team this year for Lake Champlain Maritime Museum?

This year, our Skiffie Worlds team consists of 21 rowers from the Museum rowing clubs or other New England rowing club friends. In alphabetical order, our team includes: Mandy Brinkman, Shining Chang, Sarah Cowan, Tim Cowan, Becky D’Avignon, Peggy Dillon, Pete Feeney, Mary Hennessy, Evelyn Hladik, Aiden Lavigne, Ben Mayock, Keith Mintz, Linnea Oosterman, Gardner Pickering, Andrew Rainville, Corinthia Richards, Carol Roberts, Dave Santillo, Lynn Stewart-Parker, Emily Weber, and Holly Weber.

Q: You probably don’t bring your own boats, right?

Right, we don’t bring our own boats – that would be prohibitively expensive to ship it across the ocean or too long of a row! We borrow boats from other teams and rowing organizations, as organized by Skiffie Worlds. This year, we are thankful to Lelystad, a Dutch rowing team, for letting us use their boat.

Q: What are the race events like at Skiffie Worlds?

Each day, there are certain divisions that race. They do heats earlier in the day and then finals later in the day. Races are 2,000 meters: 1,000 meters out, 180-degree turn, 1,000 meters back. There are 10 racing lanes at a time which means that, depending on the number of crews competing per division, there could be 5 heats or just 1. We don’t have an exact timetable yet, but the general race schedule is posted on the Skiffie Worlds Race Schedule webpage. Like races state-side, Skiffie Worlds events will go rain or shine. They are only called off for truly dangerous conditions like lightning or extremely high winds.

Q: Are there other teams from the U.S. attending?

Yes, there are two other American teams attending: the Boston Area Skiff Club and Bowdoinham Rowing. The Boston Area Skiff Club, together since 2019, includes our rowing friends from Hull and Gloucester, MA. Some of their members previously rowed with the Maritime Museum’s team at Skiffie Worlds 2019. Bowdoinham Rowing is a relatively new rowing group from Bowdoinham, Maine. Importantly, we (the Museum team) have connections to both other teams and we’ll all be sharing a few rowers to build crews for the various racing categories. In some ways, it’s one big Team USA. If any one of our crews does well, we’ll all celebrate.

Q: Has the pandemic impacted this worldwide event?

Skiffie Worlds was extremely lucky. The event happens every three years and, by coincidence, the timing could not have been better. The last iteration was in the summer of 2019, just before COVID hit and now we’re in relatively good shape for the event this year.

Q:  How can folks back home follow along in how the team is doing at Skiffie Worlds?

Make sure to follow the Museum on Instagram for on-the-ground updates from the team. Results will be posted on https://www.skiffieworlds2022.com/.

Q: How can someone interested get involved in this kind of rowing?

You are always welcome to come row with us! At Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, we believe everyone who wants to can row. The best way to get involved is to simply start rowing in one of our three weekly rowing clubs: Rowing for Racing on Tuesdays in Vergennes for intermediate to advanced rowers; Burlington Rowing Club on Wednesdays in Burlington is a skiff-focused rowing club for all levels; and Community Rowing on Thursdays in Vergennes is open to first-time to advance rowers. Once you’re comfortable behind an oar, domestic races start becoming an option if you’re interested, with several around New England. Check out more information about our rowing clubs and sign up on our rowing club webpage. For first-timers, your first row is free!

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