Isle of Mull Regatta – 6 and 7 September 2014 – Call for Rowers

Selkie and Eala Bhan in Tobermory
At the launching of Eala Bhan earlier this year.


The first Isle of Mull Skiff Regatta will take place in September and looks like providing a fantastic weekend of racing and just enjoying the magic of Tobermory. Selkie is duly entered and booked on the Oban to Craignure ferry departing at 11.55 on Friday 5th September, so she’ll be there anyway with a nucleus of rowers. There’s plenty of scope for more of us to take part and it will be great if we can field more than just one crew. 

Our friends on Mull visited our regatta in force and showed us a thing or two, so it will be great to return the favour.

To date Selkie and her people have competed at several events, in Ullapool (twice), Otter Ferry, Loch Vennacher and Loch Insch. Those of us who’ve been have always had a really good time and enjoyed real hospitality and kindness.  If you haven’t tried you really don’t know what you’ve been missing. Please use the booking section of this site to register your interest and allow us to give the Mulleachs some real competition! 



Toberonochy Open Day

Toberonochy June meeting 2We set off from the Pontoon just after midday and rowed down against tide and wind to Toberonochy, arriving about 1345, where we were greeted by a good percentage of the population and enjoyed cheery chat, burgers and tea.

We were challenged to a race against the two Luing skiffs, a nice triangular course out across the Sound and back, about 1 kilometre. Selkie came in first, followed by the big Shetlander and Hinba third. This could count as Selkie’s first actual win!

Toberonochy racephoto courtesy of Iain Robb

The return trip entailed a brisk row up through Ardinamir against a tide that ran like a little river, followed by a real skoosh out through Cuan and a gentle row behind a nice Southerly breeze. Back on pontoon by 1715 in time for Selkie’s evening excursion.  

Luing Launch

Selkie rowed down from the pontoon to South Cuan on Saturday 24 May, to support the launch of the Isle 0f Luing’s skiff, Hinba, and re-launch of their renovated Fair Isle skiff, Virda.

Luing launch (1)

A piper, BBQ, blessing of the boats, bunting and tropical blue seas all made for a great day out. We were joined by Gill of Melfort, from Kilmelford, who rowed across from North Cuan.

Monty Halls was there too, with a BBC camera crew, taking a break from making a film about diving in the Slate Islands – watch this space!

Luing launch (11)

Luing launch (7)

After the launch, Selkie raced the Luing ferry, Belnahua, across Cuan Sound (we won!!) and beached for the night. A very early Sunday row repositioned the skiff at Ellenabeich, ready for our regatta this coming weekend.





Thoughts on the AGM

Four of us attended the meeting in Callander, not the best thing for the legs after our energetic day on the water. Full minutes will appear in due course on the SCRA website, so this is just a brief report with comments on matters that affect us on Seil.

The main thing that struck us in the Chairman’s report was the huge expansion in skiffing with there now being 24 clubs affiliated to SCRA, nearly 60 skiffs in Scotland and another 40 or so planned or building. Of interest to us are Tobermory with one or maybe two and Oban with maybe one, (although we haven’t heard anything from them for a while). Outside the meeting we heard that Luing are building, apparently following the successful charity row round the island.

Next year there could be a mid-Argyll regatta with eight or nine local skiffs plus visitors.

The Treasurer reported that SCRA is solvent, so the subscription stays at £60 per club.

The Committee will be co-opting a couple of new members including one from Argyll – details to follow.

The main business was consideration of the measurement rules. New rules will prevent imaginative builders producing an unfair advantage, perhaps at the expense of safety. I won’t record all the detail here, but happily Selkie is well within all the new tolerances, so we don’t need to alter her in any way.

Sensible amendments include allowing polypropylene for the keel rubbing strip, which we already have, also plastic or similar strips to reduce friction between oars and pins, which we should consider adding. They also clarify that our seat positions are legal, as is our rudder, although it’s not to the shape in the plans.

It was agreed that the expansion of the class means these must be more rigorously enforced and we were reminded that spoon and asymmetric oars are not allowed.

Metal oarlocks, footrests etc remain banned, showing that Scottish skiffing is building its own ethos that some may consider mildly eccentric.

I’ll write a further post with my views about what we should be doing this winter to improve our competitiveness, mainly addressing the oars and footrests.

Most important is to recruit some younger members, as half us rowing at Loch Venachar had bus passes. Here are some further images to let people know what they’re missing.

The Crowd before the startThe Crowd  againAnster ladiesChippy McNishCox RaySelkie ladies crewSelkie ladies in action


Issues for the 2013 AGM at Callander on 26 October

SCRA are just about to announce the details of the 2013 AGM, which will take place in Callander on 26 October at 1700 just after the Loch Vennacher sprint races finish.

This should be an extremely important meeting, as decisions will be taken that will affect the style of rowing and the type of competition that coastal rowing will be able to offer in the years to come.

In the four years since coastal rowing began a lot of experience has been gained, especially at the Skiffieworlds. The SCRA decided to cash on this and set up a Rules and Measurement Committee, which took soundings from clubs, inspected and in some cases weighed boats and set out some issues for discussion. The result was a set of summaries of the different issues, with questions added for the member clubs to decide. Our club should form a collective view on these, so that we can vote on 26 October.

The full report is on the SCR website here:-

You will see that various clubs are taking part already in an online discussion via the comments. It is open to both individuals and clubs to do this. We should all read the report and think about how we should respond. What follows is not to provide an excuse not to read it, so I will just summarise the main principles.

The Rules and Measurement Committee first asked itself what rules are for. We identified a number of quite distinct reasons why we need rules for boats in a class, mainly to ensure, safety, longevity of the skiff, fairness and “spirit”.

I’ve put spirit in quotes, because it’s still forming in coastal rowing and very important if often overlooked. There is a tendency in the existing rules to ascribe matters which truly belong to spirit, for example rowing with kabes or thole pins, to other things like saving money. This is patently untrue, as simple galvanised oarlocks are cheaper in the long run than wooden pins.

By spirit I mean the range of emotional factors that surround the St Ayles skiffs and their communities. It’s a mixture of nostalgia reflecting the history of the boat type and shape plus the unique elements that make them attractive and in time will become a tradition.

Traditions all start somewhere, usually for good reasons which get lost as time passes. All sports have them, both good and bad. Good reasons tend to reinforce the sense of belonging to a community, bad ones lead to exclusivity (e.g. certain bowling and golf clubs). In a sport one often does things for no obvious practical reason – that’s not what sports are about.

These factors are also part of the reasons why people take up our type of rowing as opposed to others. Alec Jordan for example records “At Hobart someone made a comment that these boats are a wonderful change from the testosterone fuelled misogyny of the surf boats”.

This leads directly into the main questions that members will want to discuss.

The most important are the issues about metal oarlocks versus clever wooden imitations of carbon fibre racing fittings versus thole pins versus kabes. Should SCRA ban feathering?

Other matters that will be decided are:-

Minimum Weight

Adhering to the drawings

Exotic Materials – e.g. the use of of polyprop for rubbing strips, technically illegal but most of us have done it.



Of course we will have personal views, but I understand that there will be one vote per club. We have no time to lose in opening a discussion.



Gill of Melfort is ready to go! Oban gets started!

Pic from above in shed

finished boat in shed

We’ve been invited to the official launch of Kilmelford’s Gill of Melfort to take place from the boatyard on Sunday 18 August at 1400. There’s a rumour that there may be a BBQ to celebrate the event.

Meantime on Wednesday at the Oban Sailing Club a dynamic group of Oban rowers agreed to set up the Oban Rowing Club and since then they’ve got a website established -:

Let’s all spread the news about and help skiffing to really take off here.  


More about the Skiffieworlds

Further to Nick’s post earlier the few among us who have not been constantly out on the Sound practising racing starts and turns will have noticed that the heats and lanes were selected by secret ballot at Portsoy last weekend.

 Nothing focuses the mind better than to see the name of one’s club listed alongside some of the toughest crews in the game (no names).

 In accordance with our egalitarian principles all the five races which we have entered are mixed ones and those who have not yet indicated a preference for a particular category should note that the ages specified are minimums. Thus:

 Those of us with bus passes can row in any of the races for which we have entered.

 Those under 60 but over 50 can row on Wednesday at 14.00 (50+), Thursday at 11.30 (Open A) or 13.00 (Open B) or Friday at 12.30 (40+).

 Those under 50 but over 40 can row on Thursday at 11.30 (Open A) or 13.00 (Open B) or Friday at 12.30 (40+).

 Those lucky enough to be under 40 can only row on Thursday at 11.30 (Open A) or 13.00 (Open B).

 No person can row in both Open A and Open B.

 Here are the results of the draws in respect of our races:


50+ Mixed Heat 2 Wednesday 10th July 1400hrs                                                                                                                   

Lane    Club

1          WSV Woudrichem

2          Isle of Seil CR

3          Coigach Community Rowing

4          Newburgh Rowing Club

5          St Ayles (Anstruther)

6          Blakeney CRC

7          Lake Champalin

8          Ullapool CRC

9          Pittenweem RC

10       Islay

NOTE: Having won our heat we will proceed to the final on Thursday at 11.00am.


Open Mixed A Heat 1 Thursday 11th July 1130hrs                                                                                                     

Lane    Club

1          Royal West (Greenock)

2          Loch Broom SC

3          Bunillidh RC (Helmsdale)

4          North Berwick RC

5          Isle of Seil CR

6          Newhaven CRC

7          Blakeney CRC

8          Troon CRC

9          Stornoway RC

10       Portsoy Skiffettes

11       Newburgh Rowing Club (Fife)

12       Pittenweem RC

NOTE The final for this is the same day at 15.00


Open Mixed B Heat 2 Thursday 11th July 1300hrs                                         

Lane    Club

1          Wind and Oar Boat School

2          Isle of Seil

3          Carrick CRC

4          North Berwick RC

5          Bunillidh RC (Helmsdale)

6          Stornoway RC

7          Loch Broom SC

8          St Ayles (Anstruther)

9          Moravian Academy

10       Troon CRC

11       Ullapool CRC

NOTE The final for this is the same day at 15.30




40+ Mixed Heat 2 Friday 12th July 1230hrs                                                    

Lane    Club

1          (S) Queensferry RC

2          Isle of Seil CR

3          North Queensferry CRC

4          Islay

5          Stornoway RC

6          WSV Woudrichem

7          Coigach Community Rowing

8          Carrick CRC

9          North Berwick RC

10       Blakeney CRC

11       Loch Broom SC

12       Boatie Blest (PS&C)

NOTE The final for this is the same day at 14.30




60+ Mixed FINAL Saturday 13th July 1330hrs                                                 

Lane    Club

1          Isle of Seil RC

2          Coigach Coomunity Rowing

3          Ullapool CRC

4          Blakeney CRC

5          St Ayles (Anstruther)

6          Troon CRC

7          RowPorty

8          North Berwick RC


I hope that this information enables everyone to finalise their plans for Ullapool. It is absolutely essential that you let a member of the committee know your availability and preferences as soon as possible. It’s not too late to take part in training, which is bookable on this website.

What we are doing in the Skiff Worlds

As far as I can make out from the SCR website these are the races that Selkie is entered in –  plus the cruise in company to the Summer Isles on the Tuesday.

50+ Mixed Heat 2 Wednesday 10th July 1400hrs  (Lane 2)

Open Mixed A Heat 1 Thursday 11th July 1130hrs   (Lane 5)

40+ Mixed Heat 2 Friday 12th July 1230hrs             (Lane 2)

60+ Mixed FINAL Saturday 13th July 1330hrs          (Lane 1)                                                

 If there are any others that I have missed perhaps someone else can add them. Kathy and myself plan to be in Ullapool from the Monday if the wind gods are kind (we are sailing up).

See you there!