Kircubbin St Ayles Skiff Launch
Ulster Rugby Team Help Launch Kircubbin Boat Kircubbin’s stunning ‘Black Neb Vixen’ boat, with black and cream planking to suit, has been launched and is ready to row. Members of the Ulster rugby team turned out at the weekend to give the community a helping hand to ease her into the waters of Strangford lough for the first time. This is the third of nine boats, built by communities along the County Down Coast, being launched in the run up to the Narrows Challenges rowing races on 5 October at Castle Ward, Strangford, organised by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP).
Black Neb Vixen was named after a rocky outcrop that mariners (including smugglers in days gone by!) use to navigate their way into Kircubbin Bay – the rock shape resembles a nose or “neb”.
She was built behind the Village Inn, Kircubbin, over seven months by a team of volunteers, from teenagers to people in their seventies. Now the skiff has emerged from the build shed for the whole village to admire.
Derek Gilmore a committed boat builder, with many year’s experience, said, “This is a proud moment for everyone in Kircubbin and I would like to thank the boat builders, those who organised activities, helped with equipment, and raised extra funds, as well as the SLLP and the PSNI for their support”.
These skiff boats have been designed to give non specialists a chance to get involved, but at the same time they have presented a real challenge for everyone and each required about 800 man hours.
Build “teams” were established in Killyleagh, Ardglass, Strangford, Dundrum, Portaferry, Kircubbin, Portavogie, Ballywalter and Donaghadee. Support between communities involved in the project has so far been inspiring, but now the rowing teams are getting increasingly competitive, so it is up to the Kircubbin rowing teams to make sure that Black Neb Vixen will be a winner.
Players from the Ulster Rugby Team Louis Ludik, Wiehahn, and Michael Heeney were on hand to lend their support.
Constable Nick Jenkins, from Peninsula Neighbourhood Policing Team, who was one of the initiators of the project said, “ This is not just about building boats, it is about building community spirit and we are really pleased to see how people have come together to build their boat and also how communities have helped each other out with different aspects of the work.”
Now that the boats are getting ready for the water Kircubbin, Strangford, Dundrum, Portaferry, Killyleagh, Portavogie, Ballywalter and Donaghadee, as well as Ardglass are looking for rowers. During the month of September training is being provided by the Sea Cadets for anyone wanting to develop (or find!) their technique 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 those under the age of 18 and is open to 11 year olds and older.
The Club’s website will soon be on-line but in the meantime check out Facebook: downcoastalrowing for training times and dates. This is a great opportunity to take up a new activity, get fit and meet people in your community
For further information contact Susan McClay at the SLLP office in Portaferry, Tel: 028 427 28886 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org . No experience needed. The first Narrows Challenges races will take place on 5 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.