The Scottish Coastal Rowing Project aims to promote traditional fixed seat rowing north of the Tweed, where apparently it has rather languished in comparison with the huge popularity of such boats as the Cornish Pilot Gig, the Celtic Longboat and the Thames Waterman Cutters and the like.
So the aim is to produce a standard design of pulling boat that will encourage competition, and can be constructed by groups or communities, at reasonable cost and involving achievable woodworking skills. The design is a corker, a double-ender designed by Iain Oughtred but based on a model of a Fair Isle Skiff in the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther, one of the backers of the project.
The boat will be called the St Ayles Skiff, after the building in which the museum is housed. It is 23ft long by 5ft 7in beam, which is rather short by Pilot Gig standards but should be very seaworthy. There will be four rowers and a cox.
What makes the project different and interesting is that the boat will be available in kit form from Alec Jordan, and schools, youth clubs, villages, sports clubs and even pubs will be encouraged to build their boats themselves. This should build community spirit like little else. The kit will cost about £1,350 and the total cost including epoxy etc will be about £3,000, a relatively affordable sum.
The first boat will be built at the Fisheries Museum this winter. It is to be hoped that a fleet will come together fairly quickly if the class is to become established.