The Narrows Challenges

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

The Narrows Challenges

Killyleagh takes the trophy in the first Narrrows Challenges coastal rowing race.

Everyone was a winner when communities along the County Down coast came together to race their beautiful skiff rowing boats in the first Narrows Challenges, run by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP), this weekend. The atmosphere was electric as Killyleagh’s fiery red “Skart” scooped the main trophy just ahead of Strangford’s Strangfjorthr” . The boats completed the course and Ardglass, Dundrum and Killyleagh won the sprint races with teams of all abilities getting the chance to take part. Dundrum also attained the most points across all the races, making them the best performing community.

Speaking at the Prize-giving, Chief Superintendent, Peter Farrar, Police Service of Northern Ireland, said, “It is evident today, how this initiative has developed local pride and has served to strengthen bonds within communities and between communities as people worked together to craft these boats and race them. People have drawn on their shared maritime heritage and young and old have have enjoyed working together and getting out and about around our beautiful coast.”

Chair of the SLLP’s Advisory Committee, Isabel Hood, commented, “The Narrows Challenges are set to become an annual event and we expect then to grow into an important international coastal rowing fixture. The exceptional tidal waters of the Narrows, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, provide a unique challenge that we believe will attract experienced rowers from around the globe. But the boats will be used by their communities year round for local events and to help everyone to enjoy the scenery and wildlife around our coast and especially Strangford Lough.”

The magnificent model skiff trophy, was hand crafted by Pennon Plaques in Kircubbin, from tulip wood and mounted on oak.

The Chair of Down District Council, Cllr William Walker, presented each member of the winning teams with a hand carved model oar to commemorate the occasion. He congratulated all concerned and said that he wanted to see the this as an annual event that would be enjoyed by people locally and visitors to the area. “Skart” takes her name from the local word for “cormorant”, which drives from the Viking name for the sea bird, and “Strangfjorthr” also draws on the Viking description of the fast , turbulent and deep waters at the entrance to Strangford Lough. The other competing were Ardglass Lass, Danny Buoy from Dundrum, Ramharry named after the “rough and strong” tides off the Donaghadee Coast, and Black Neb Vixen, named after a “nose” shaped landmark off Kircubbin Bay.

Three more boats are still in the making, at Portaferry, Ballywalter and Portavogie. Donaghadee will officially launch their skiff at 1.30pm on 12th October after a parade around the harbour from 12.30pm.

The Down Coastal Rowing Club was set up this year up to provide a focus for coastal rowing and to help develop the Narrows Challenges. Almost 300 people have already signed up as members and many more are coming on board as they see the chance to take up a great new outdoor activity with the community at its heart. 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.

For more information contact Down Coastal Rowing Club at the SLLP office in Portaferry, Tel: 028 427 28886 or mail

No experience needed. For this year 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.

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