Wednesday, 7 August 2013

An update from Alec Jordan on the Ayles skiff

This came in yesterday and after I had posted on the Ayles skiff the day before, so please now read Alecs updated story. The pictures are from the Skiff World Championships at Ullapool 2013.


Hi Roy

Thanks for putting this up.

First point – the pic at the top of the two man boat is the Wemyss Skiff.  Attached are a couple of new pics from Skiffy Worlds to replace it.

The text below is now slightly dated – please replace with what is below.

Click on the pictures to view in a larger size.
Photo credit, by Steven Gourlay Photography, taken 10th July 2013, at 9.54 am.
Ullapool Harbour, Scotland.

Thank you for showing an interest in the St Ayles skiff. Your life may be about to change, hopefully for the better, as you discover the joys of boat building and being on the water as part of a community.
Those of us who were involved in 2009, at the start of what was then the “Scottish Coastal Rowing Project”, under the auspices of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, had a pretty good idea that building and rowing the newly designed St Ayles Skiff would be a very rewarding and sociable experience. We knew friends in our own community and some in neighbouring areas might well catch on and get an enthusiasm for the concept too. However, we have been somewhat taken aback by the speed at which the fever spread, not just around the Firth of Forth, which we might have expected, but initially along the coasts of Scotland, then down into some lovely parts of England, and then around the world.

Therefore, it is worthwhile trying to look at what is so special about this boat, and the way it brings communities together.

Perhaps most importantly, the St Ayles is not something you just buy off the shelf. It is supplied in a kit form, which means that the basic hull shape and dimensions will be the same for each boat. However, a great deal of work goes into transforming sheets of precut plywood parts into the graceful shape of a St Ayles skiff. It’s that work which is enormously rewarding, and can be done by you, in your community, with your friends, some of whom you will know already and some of
whom you have yet to meet, but all of whom you will have a special bond with. You and your community will be very proud of what you create, and it will have touches which make it unique.

Then you and others will start to row your community skiff. Many of the rowers will have lived beside the sea for years, but never looked at their community from seaward before. Just as you discovered the rewards of teamwork when building the boat, rowers will discover the joys of teamwork in making the boat sweep gracefully through the water, and making her ride purposefully over the waves. During the build some experienced woodworkers will have shared their knowledge with learners, a rewarding experience for both. Now on the water the same thing will happen, with experienced rowers and mariners sharing their experience with newcomers. Some of those newcomers will be youngsters, some will be pensioners, but all are discovering that joy of working together with others to achieve a goal.

Photo credit, by Steven Gourlay Photography, taken 10th July 2013,
Loch Broom, Scotland.
Apart from being pleasing on the eye, the St Ayles has proved time and again to be a superb seaboat.  They have been raced in everything up to Force 6  winds, and in three years of regattas, there have been no capsizes or injuries.  Their stability has been a big factor in bringing hundreds of people who have never enjoyed water based recreation into the sport, and while racing is a big part of rowing the St Ayles, there are a very large number of rowers who partake simply for the exercise and camaraderie of working closely together.

Coastal rowing is a very accessible sport. You do not need huge resources or specialist knowledge to become involved. All the rowers have a contribution to make to the propulsion of the boat, and all share the same rewards.
We recently welcomed 800 St Ayles skiff rowers from the USA, Australia, Netherlands, England and Scotland to the first St Ayles World Championships in Ullapool in Scotland’s Northwest Highlands.  The Worlds has attracted further interest from around the world as well as from Scotland; when the next Worlds is held in 3 or 4 years time, there will be many more countries represented – we hope that crews from Southern Africa will have discovered the joys of coastal rowing and will be present for it.

Alec Jordan & Robbie Wightman

Bravo, bravo to this idea, Hout Bay harbour and Hout Bay itself would be the perfect setting for a South African event!

For more information, please go to, or download the St Ayles brochure  from

Kits for Southern Africa will be available from CKD Boats cc .