Killyleagh St Ayles Skiff Launch
. Killyleagh Community Rowing Boat HitsThe Water Killyleagh’s new rowing boat “Skart”, took to the water gracefully for the first time this weekend just like the seabird after which she is named. The word “skart” is thought to derive from a Viking name for a cormorant and has been handed down for generations in Killyleagh.
This is the second of nine coastal rowing boats being built by communities around Strangford Lough and the County Down coast as part of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership’s (SLLP’s) community coastal rowing project “The Narrows Challenges.”
The boats are all St Ayles’ skiffs , measuring 22feet in length and with 4 oars. Skart, is a beauty, with her dark red body and a jet black top plank, she was built by a team of dedicated volunteers The Killyleagh team have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from local businesses and groups especially Mervyn Beers who has lent his boat shed behind The Smugglers Table, the Ardglass Vikings for their expertise and financial support, William McCloy for sponsoring the build by providing materials, Killyleagh Yacht Club for aiding fundraising, Angela Gilmore for sharing her expertise, and Maguires Nisa Store for providing Team Killyleagh with tea and coffee”.
Ann Fee a spokesperson for the team says "I would just like to thank everyone who helped make our dream a reality but especially the Skiff building team whose enthusiasm for this project was phenomenal. I am delighted to say our beautiful 'Skart' is now ready to take to the waves to be rowed by the next generation of Killyleagh seafarers. The legacy lives on!"
The skiff required about 800 man hours to build and was very challenging. The marine ply kits are designed to give non specialists a chance to get involved but at the same time produce a high quality boat that makes even experienced boat builders proud to be involved.
Dougie Marr who has been involved with the project from the start reiterates what a success the project has been so far, how glad he has been to be part of a great team putting together a fine craft “We are looking forward to Skart being raced against other communities, we hope she’ll do well for Killyleagh, as other generations have over the last century of rowing races”.
Stephen Robinson a boat builder with the team comments that “There is more than fifty years age difference in the building team, but it is now up to the youngsters to row, let’s hope Skart is first past the post when it comes to the big day “The Narrows Challenge” on 5th October “.
Sergeant Nigel Donnelly from Killyleagh Neighbourhood Policing Team, said, “The rowing skiff project is building a great sense of community spirit in the area. This is a great initiative with which we are delighted to be involved. We have been calling in with the boat builders in Killyleagh and they have made us feel very welcome. We are happy to help everyone involved in whatever way we can. I think this project has really brought the local community together and we are all looking forward to the big race on 5th October".
Now that the boats are getting ready for the water Ardglass, Strangford, Dundrum, Portaferry, Kircubbin, Portavogie, Ballywalter and Donaghadee, as well as Killyleagh, are looking for rowers.
Get fit and get involved with your community! During September rowing and coxswain training is being provided by the Sea Cadets, on a first come first served basis. The only requirement is that you join the Down Coastal Rowing Club (an umbrella club for the boat building and rowing teams) for a nominal fee of £5.
Membership is free for under 18s and is open to 11 year olds and older. The Club’s website will soon be on-line but in the meantime all the training times and dates that are available are on facebook at f:downcoastalrowing. For further information contact Susan McClay at the SLLP office in Portaferry, Tel: 028 427 28886 or mail email@example.com .
No experience needed. The first Narrows Challenge races will take place on 5th October across the Narrows of Strangford Lough and in Castle Ward Bay. This community and tourism initiative has been developed by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). It 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.