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:-
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.