Icebreaker St Ayles Skiff Dundrum Coastal Rowing Event
St. Ayles Skiff Race
Dundrum 27 December 2014
Weather permitting, on 27 December, when at least a partial recovery will have been achieved from the indulgences of Christmas day, rowing teams from around Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula will gather in Dundrum for a series of races. The invitation was extended to fellow members of the Down Coastal Rowing Club by members of the Dundrum team following the successful inaugural event, the ‘Narrows Challenge’, which took place at the mouth of Strangford Lough, on the 5th October. It is hoped that as many spectators as possible will go to Dundrum to support their local team, perhaps bring a flask and sandwich or avail of the local hostelries, and enjoy a couple of hours craic.
The first of 5 races will begin at 12.30 and can be viewed from the shore front car parks. Teams from the following rowing groups are expected to take part: Dundrum, Killyleagh, Ardglass, Donnaghadee, Kircubbin, Strangford and Portaferry,
Coastal rowing is rapidly gaining popularity around the UK and Ireland, a number of classes of boat having been developed, and races are taking place at a local level, as well as nationally and internationally. Among other benefits, coastal rowing provides a new social activity for many and reconnects coastal communities with the sea.
Here in County Down, the rowing skiff project began in early January this year, when expressions of interest were sought from local communities to get involved in the building of 22 foot rowing boats known as ‘St. Ayles Skiffs’. The project was intended to give the opportunity for people to take up a new activity, get fit, learn new skills and to have the experience of building a boat for the community. This community and tourism initiative has been developed by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), has been approved by the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP) as part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, and it is supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and Down District and Ards Borough Councils.
Groups of boat builders from 9 towns and villages, namely Dundrum, Ardglass, Strangford, Killyleagh, Portaferry, Kircubbin, Portavogie, Ballywalter / Millisle, and Donaghadee have all built skiffs. Arguably, as a result of this enough boats and teams have been created to form a sustainable rowing community for social and competitive rowing in the East Down area, and to build the skill and experience necessary to compete further afield.
With this, the first race since the inaugural event, the organizers are creating another opportunity to increase awareness and enthusiasm among the wider community, both for spectators and potential new rowers. It is also the first opportunity for the residents of the Dundrum/Newcastle area to experience the excitement and thrills, but hopefully no spills at this time of year, of a coastal rowing race right on their doorstep.