In 2013 the SLLP, working with the PSNI Community Policing team developed a vision for coastal rowing that would involve local communities in both the building and rowing of their own boats. The style and specification of these boats all followed using a system which had developed in Scotland for a boat type known as a St Ayle's Skiff. See www.downcoastalrowing.org.
The SLLP have since establsied nine coastal rowing clubs in the area, each with a beautiful , hand crafted boat built by members of the community. It has been an extraordinary journey for everyone involved, building teams and friendships as well as coastal rowing for pleasure and sport.
This initiative brought back to Strangford Lough and area a long tradition of racing local rowing boats which had ceased.
The Clubs now 10 strong have gone on to build more boats as their membership and active participation has grown with 4 clubs having built a second boat. Although each club is independent and all active in their own ways, they come together through a Rowing Association. Each club taking its turn to hold a regatta which gives the opportunity to bring all the boats competing in organised racing. Other social events occur throughout the year.
SLLP also secured and organised the 2016 Skiffie Worlds championships, for Strangford Lough, working closely with the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association. The event was backed by Newry , Mourne and Down District Council who hope to establish an annual event at Delamont Country Park. Amazingly Dundrum were the overall championships beating well established teams from all over the world including Scotland, Tasmania , the Netherlands and Canada.
SLLP also organised the first regatta on Strangford Lough in 2013 won by Killyleagh CRC. This became establioshed as the "Narrows Challenges" and now runs as an annual event .
There are local clubs in Bangor, Donaghadee, Portavogie, Portaferry, Kircubbin, Killyleagh, Strangford, Ardglass, Whiterock and Dundrum. All of the clubs are membership based and actively seek and welcome new recruits. Members are mostly active as participating rowers, some are involved as race organisers and support, fundraisers, safety and welfare officers et al. They would love to hear from potential new members!.
The Down Coastal Rowing Project was funded by the Down Rural Area Partnership (DRAP) as part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas and supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Newry , Mourne and Down District Council and Ards and North Down Borough Council. See http://www.downcoastalrowing.org/ for further information.
All of the clubs offer access to rowing which is organised throughout the year, mostly at weekends although with the longer daylight periods boats can be seen training in the eveneings also. Facilities supporting the boats does vary with some clubs associated with sailing clubs [Strangford, Kircubbin and Ardglass ] whie others operating very independently. All the boats are trailored and kept on land when not in use.
Area of Activity
Each club has its own "home port" and community from which they operate but all would attract a membership and support from beyond their base.To date the boats extend from Belfast Louigh, Outer Ards Coast, Strangford Lough and Lecale. Regattas and racing takes all of the boats beyond home shores.