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Gretna launch for Scottish skiff challenge

Section:  Annan and Eskdale  | Tags: ,

AN AMBITIOUS challenge to row around Scotland will set off from Gretna next April.

Community rowing clubs from across the country will take part in the first ever relay expedition to circumnavigate over 1800 miles of the Scottish coastline in an open top rowing boat, known as a skiff.

And Annan Harbour Action Group (AHAG) have been tasked with planning the first leg of the journey from Gretna to Stranraer.

Harbour development officer Alan Thomson, who will ‘pilot’ a skiff during the Rowaround, said: “This is a daunting challenge but we will be working closely with Bowness on Solway and the Isle of Whithorn, where skiffs are under construction, and we hope that they will be ready in time to join us on Rowaround.

“We hope to connect with as many coastal communities as possible along the Solway to promote coastal rowing and stimulate interest in our fast growing sport.

“Then, hopefully, a few more communities might build their own skiffs and join us in the future.”

The ambitious relay, setting off from Gretna and ending six months later at Loch Tummel, will mark the tenth anniversary of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, with about 1000 skiffs from up to 70 clubs taking part.

Out on the water skiff crews will also be getting behind the camera to capture footage for a film destined for ocean and outdoor festivals, and they will be doing their bit for the planet by taking water samples for micro-plastics.

Funding for the event has come from the Years of Coasts and Waters Events Fund, managed by EventScot- land, with match funding from St Ayles’ Skiff enthusiasts and crowdfunders.

The task of co-ordinating the event has gone to former Cambridge Rowing blue Sue Fenton, who lives on the Isle of Seil near Oban.

She said: “Each section, with all its different clubs, will have a start and a finish date so it’s up to the crews when they do it.

“It gives them wiggle room for inclement conditions – we wouldn’t want to make people feel they have to go out in a gale force five or six!

“If the tides and wind are with us then it will be a fun challenge but we are not elite athletes, just communities of all ages connecting with each other and our coastal heritage.”

Landlubbers will be able to follow the whole expedition’s progress thanks to a baton fitted with a special tracker, which will transmit directly to a dedicated website and Facebook page.

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