SkiffieWorlds 2019, the World Championship for St Ayles Skiff coastal rowing, opened today in Loch Ryan, Stranraer, (south west Scotland) with a mass row-in of all participating boats during a spectacular opening ceremony. The record entry numbers make this the biggest ever St Ayles Skiff regatta.
The world championship racing gets under way tomorrow (Monday 8 July) when the event will also see visits from HRH The Princess Royal and from Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. The Princess Royal will be welcomed with an oar salute. They will join thousands of spectators in watching the racing by teams from as far as New Zealand, Canada, Tasmania, the USA and mainland Europe.
Wendi Cuffe of Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club said:
“We have had an incredible start to SkiffieWorlds and it has been amazing watching all these beautiful skiffs take to the water in Loch Ryan. There has never been such a large gathering of so many skiffs before, and it was truly spectacular to watch them all take to the water together.
“Each and every one of these boats is a work of art, and each one has been built by ordinary folk, men, women and young people, coming together to share skills and create a community owned boat that makes enjoying the water accessible and affordable for everyone. Because ultimately St Ayles Skiff racing is about building coastal communities as much as it is about building boats, and community building is something we know a fair bit about in Stranraer.”
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
“Scotland has a renowned reputation both as a fantastic destination for adventure tourism and as a host for major sporting events and that is evidenced this week in Stranraer.
“It is little wonder that so many people want to come here to watch World Championship rowing in a stunning setting, enjoying competitive sport whilst boosting local businesses and the wider economy.
“I am particularly pleased that the local community has embraced coastal and marine activities as we approach the Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters in 2020. I very much hope that many of those here this week return in the future to see more of what Scotland has to offer.”
The St Ayles coastal rowing boat was invented in Scotland 10 years ago and was inspired by the traditional Fair Isle skiff. The sport is now one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and it starts with a community build of the skiff itself. This community approach to boat building makes each and every skiff unique; many of them brightly coloured and with quirky stories behind the boat names.
The World Championship takes place every three years and Stranraer won the competitive bid to host the event after impressing judges with the sheltered water of Loch Ryan’s sea loch, nestled behind the distinctive hammer-head peninsula of Scotland’s south west coast.
Stranraer, formerly the main port to Northern Ireland, is reinventing itself as a leisure and marine tourism destination. With the ferries now stopping further up the coast, 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.
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.
More information about SkiffieWorlds can be found at: www.skiffieworlds2019.com