Stranraer Gets Set To Welcome The Worlds

The full programme for SkiffieWorlds 2019 has been announced, offering a packed programme of World Championship coastal rowing in stunning Loch Ryan alongside VIP guests, a huge shoreside festival and a schedule of events and family friendly activities that includes everything from ceilidhs and chainsaw carving, to wizard schools and ghost walks! 

SkiffieWorlds 2019

SkiffieWorlds is the World Championship for the St Ayles Class of coastal rowing boat, taking place in Stranraer (south west Scotland) from 7th to 13th July 2019.  The St Ayles coastal rowing boat was invented in Scotland 10 years ago and the sport is now one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.

The World Championship takes place every three years and Stranraer won the competitive bid to host the event after impressing judges with the beautiful sheltered water of Loch Ryan’s sea loch, one of the most distinctive features of Scotland’s south west coast.

The SkiffieWorlds will be the largest event the town has hosted, and is expected to increase the population of Stranraer by a third. More than 700 crews from fifty seven clubs from around the world will take part, including teams from as far away as the United States, Australia, Canada and Tasmania. Visitors to the world championship event will include The Princess Royal, who will attend the event on 8th July.

Stranraer, formerly the main port to Belfast, is reinventing itself as a leisure and marine tourism destination. With the ferries now stopping further up the headline, the clear waters of the Loch Ryan foreshore is available for tourism and recreation purposes, and there are ambitions to position the town as an international coastal water sports destination.

Wendi Cuffe of Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club, and a former economic development professional, commented:

“Loch Ryan is a perfect stage for water sports. It’s a natural amphitheatre with calm, sheltered water, amazing onshore facilities, a stunning park and its close proximity to the town and its facilities makes it really pretty perfect for competitive water sports events and for water based leisure activities.
“Hosting SkiffieWorlds 2019 is a team effort involving many individuals and community groups, all working together to help Stranraer shine.  Loch Ryan is the jewel in the crown of Stranraer and there’s a real opportunity to build on SkiffieWorlds to position Stranraer and Loch Ryan as an internationally renowned water sports destination. This is only the start.”

SkiffieWorlds is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council, EventScotland, SSE, the National Lottery Awards for All, Kilgallioch Community Fund and a host of local sponsors and funders.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said:

“Our Council is thrilled to support this fantastic event. The hosting of the SkiffieWorlds Championship is a huge opportunity for Stranraer, not just to show off Loch Ryan to the world, but to build on the economic re-development we have seen over the last few years. I am sure the event will be a great success and see visitors flock to Stranraer and wider Wigtownshire for this exciting event.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Stranraer SkiffieWorlds 2019 through our National Programme, ahead of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. With its stunning coast lines, rivers and lochs, Scotland is the perfect stage for rowing events like this and it is a fantastic addition to our packed portfolio for this year.”

The St Ayles Skiff is an oared rowing boat inspired by the traditional Fair Isle skiff.  The standard Crew is four rowers, each with a single oar, and a coxswain.   The name of the design comes from the former chapel which now forms the entrance to the Scottish Fisheries Museum.  An essential part of St Ayles Skiff rowing is that building the boat itself is a fundamental part of the sport. This boat building process brings coastal communities together and teaches skills.

The SkiffieWorlds is a spectator event as well as a sporting event.  The festival programme has been designed to give international teams a flavour of Scotland, with local artisan food, screenings of Scottish films, heritage experiences and ceilidh dances. Visitors and day trippers to SkiffieWorlds will find a family friendly programme packed with fun and entertainment, as well as live-action drone footage screenings and live sporting commentary of the races.  The event is also a fantastic opportunity to ‘wet your appetite’ ahead of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 which will shine a spotlight on the destination’s wonderful inland and coastal landscapes through a programme of activity and events

Key dates: 

7th July 2019                      Practice Day and Welcome Ceremony

8th July 2019                      Visit by The Princess Royal

8th – 13th July 2019            World Championship Racing

More information about SkiffieWorlds can be found at: www.skiffieworlds2019.com

St Ayles Skiff – How traditional Scottish rowing spread throughout the world! 

SkiffieWorlds is the World Championship for the St Ayles Class of coastal rowing boat and it takes place every three years.  The St Ayles coastal rowing boat was invented in Scotland 10 years ago and the sport is now one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.

While the St Ayles skiff celebrates its tenth year in 2019, the origins of the boat go back much further than that.  The inspiration for the community built coastal rowing boat came from the regattas of mining communities along the Firth of Forth, held regularly until the early 1950s, where the miners built their own boats and raced them during the Gala weeks.

A local boat manufacturer learnt of these races when he moved to East Wemyss in 2005, and he came up with the idea of kit boats to be built and raced around Fife.  After the Scottish Fisheries Museum approached him for a kit to be built in the Museum boatyard, he proposed the idea as a use for the finished boat.

The fisheries museum endorsed the idea and commissioned a boat design based on the Fair Isle Skiff, resulting in the beautiful boats which we have today. Before the build at the Scottish Fisheries Museum got under way, a prototype skiff was built to demonstrate the boat around the Forth and further afield.  She was launched officially on the 31st Oct 2009 at Anstruther.  The first regatta was held at Anstruther on the 29th May 2010.

There are now around 240 St Ayles skiff boats registered around the world, each of them having been built by the local communities and clubs who row them.

Programme Highlights

Opening Ceremony

SkiffieWorlds 2019 officially kicks off on Sunday 7th July at 4pm with a mass row-in to shore by all the participating skiffs. A pipe band will then escort the clubs to the main marquee to formally welcome competitors to Stranraer.   There will be entertainment and live music till midnight.

Special Guests

The Princess Royal visits SkiffieWorlds on Monday 8th July at 2pm. She’ll meet some of the international visitors and she’ll also officially start one of the heats!

For Families

The Shoreside Festival programme is packed with activities for children, young people and families, with plenty of activities taking place each day. Highlights include dance classes, craft workshops, storytelling, history workshops, kite making, wizard school and local entertainer Road Runner.

Culture & Heritage

Whether you want to delve into the dark history of Stranraer, enjoy live music, watch theatre production or movie, see the spectacle of chainsaw carving or have a go at stand up comedy; there’s things to see, do and try every day throughout SkiffieWorlds.

Food & Drink

An artisan food and craft market will run in Agnew Park throughout SkiffieWorlds, and there will be a bar and pop up restaurants till late every day.

Evening Entertainment

The evening entertainment programme at SkiffieWorlds has something for all tastes! There’s live music, quiz nights, karaoke, outdoor cinema, open mic nights and a hog roast.  International competitors will get a taste of Scotland with a traditional ceilidh on Wednesday 10th

Day Trips

Visitors to SkiffieWorlds are being encouraged to explore Galloway with a series of trips organised by McCulloch’s Coaches to attractions including Crafty Distillery, Wigtown Book Town, Whithorn Roundhouse, Portpatrick, Mull of Galloway and Logan Botanic Garden.

Daft Duck Day

Over the past few years, Stranraer regattas have become known for their duck themed races, and at SkiffieWorlds Tuesday 9th will be Daft Duck Day. It’s a chance for clubs to pimp their skiff, dress up and do some light-hearted racing.  Visitors can join in the ducky theme too with a sandcastle competition, duck dance and watching the duck parade!


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