World Championships Come to Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough, County Down, Northern Ireland, has been selected as the venue for a major, international coastal rowing event, "Skiffieworlds 2016"; it was announced today, by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA). 800 competitors, some from as far away as the United States and Tasmania, and up to 60 boats, are expected to participate in these World Championships for the St Ayles' Skiff class of coastal rowing boat. The event will be hosted by the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP), working closely with the SCRA, and with the support of local councils and communities along the County Down Coast, who will be involved in the arrangements.
The resurgence of community boat building and coastal rowing has been phenomenal over the past three years thanks to the development of the St Ayles' Skiff , an elegant, wooden, traditionally styled boat, designed to be built to a high standard by communities and suitable for competitive racing.
Robbie Wightman, SCRA convenor of Skiffeworlds said today: "We were very impressed by the proposals put forward by Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership for these Championships, and delighted with the enthusiasm shown by local communities along the County Down coast in building and rowing St Ayles' skiffs from 2014 onwards. I look forward to working with the local organisers to put together a memorable event for locals and visitors featuring safe, exciting and enjoyable racing and a chance to experience the amazing beauty of Strangford Lough and the wider area."
Skiffieworlds is a colourful and friendly celebration of coastal rowing. The St Ayles class has spread very quickly since it was first launched by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in 2009 and there are now 130 boats across the world with numbers growing every month!
Get a taste for coastal rowing and see the Down coastal rowers in action at "The Narrows Challenges" on Saturday 13 June as part of the 2015 Strangford Lough Festival (10-14 June) in Strangford and Portaferry – download the programme from www.strangfordlough.org. You can even have a go at rowing yourself, meet the teams and enjoy a display of the boats on the Sunday.
The SLLP fosters collaboration between Newry, Mourne and Down District Council with Ards and North Down Borough Council for the management of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the wider heritage.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Naomi Bailie, welcomed the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association on a recent visit to Strangford, saying " This is exactly the kind of sustainable, community backed, world class event we want to attract to our District and we are delighted to be working with the SCRA through the Partnership. "
This sentiment was echoed by Alderman Alan Graham, Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, who said, "Strangford Lough is internationally famous for its wildlife and beauty. We look forward to introducing it to these international competitors and to forging new long term links between communities around the globe through a shared love of our maritime heritage and the coast".
Find out more about "Skiffieworlds 2016" and Down Coastal Rowing on www.scottishcoastalrowing.org, www.strangfordlough.org and www.downcoastalrowing. Also keep up with the action, follow, like and share us on Facebook and Twitter!
The last Skiffieworlds, held in Ullapool, Scotland, attracted entries from Scotland, England, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and USA and was attended by around 1000 competitors. Since then several boats have been launched or are in build in other parts of the world including Northern Ireland, Canada, Spain and France. All will look forward to coming together for celebration, competition and friendship in 2016.
The development of coastal rowing in County Down has been a huge success so far and Newry Mourne and Down District Council are hoping to extend its reach to Carlingford Lough and many more communities in the coming years.