Strangford St Ayles Skiff Launch

Created on: Friday, 12 December 2014. Posted in: News | Press Releases | Coastal Rowing News

Strangford St Ayles Skiff Launch

Strangford’s boat is launched Strangford’s new community coastal rowing boat was launched on Sunday 28 September to a great local turnout. Children from St Joseph’s Primary School, Strangford, named her "Strangfjǫrðr" , the Viking form of their village’s name, which means “strong, currents” and reflects the power of the of the tidal waters of the Strangford Lough Narrows.

These Narrows and nearby Castle Ward Bay will be the venue for the first “Narrows Challenges” rowing competitions that will be held on 5 October . "Strangfjǫrðr", will be hoping to take the trophy for the main race. "Strangfjǫrðr", is one of the nine St Ayles’ skiffs being built as part of Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership’s “Narrows Challenges” community coastal rowing project.

The 22 foot, wooden, traditionally styled skiff was built in a garage at Ballyculter, kindly provided by Gary Laverty, over the past five months, by a team of committed volunteers. Her outer hull has been varnished to show off the beauty of the wood and the finishes. Not surprisingly for such a seafaring place there were some on the team with considerable boatbuilding experience.

The boat build was led by Jeremy Duffin who said, “This project and these boats have provided an outlet for local boat building craftsmanship and is helping to pass these skills and this interest on to the next generation.”

So far boats have been completed in Ardglass, Killyleagh, Kircubbin, and now Strangford. Donaghadee, Portaferry and Dundrum look set to launch just in time for the big event on 5 October! Ballywalter and Portavogie had a later start which means there is still time for people in those communities to get involved in the build and to see the boats taking shape over the coming month or two.

Support between communities involved in the project has so far been inspiring, with advice and build materials being willingly shared. From now on however the rowing teams will be stirring up the competitive spirit and the banter and craic will be mighty at the event.

While the most experienced rowers will compete in the main race there will be short fun sprints for all abilities during the afternoon. However, only pre-booked teams may enter so now is the time to register your interest and even if you don’t want to row you can find out more about the project and the Down Coastal Rowing Club from Susan McClay at the SLLP office in Portaferry, Tel: 028 427 28886 or mail

No experience needed. 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 is Facebook: downcoastalrowing.

This is a great opportunity to take up a new activity, get fit and meet people in your 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). 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.

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