Tiree Rowers Hold Their Own At National Skiff Sprints
Four rowers from the island attended the end-of-season freshwater sprints held by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association at Loch Tummel, near Pitlochry last weekend.
The four were all part of the team that built the Tiree St Ayles skiff, An Gille-Brìghde, earlier this year: Alasdair MacLachlan, Dr Ute MacGregor, Clare Jones and Dr John Holiday.
The event is held every autumn, attracting 150 rowers from as far afield as Northern Ireland and England. One club alone, Broughty Ferry, brought forty-four competitors. These were grouped into regional teams that battled it out in around twenty categories, from open mens’ teams to the ‘230s’, where the team’s ages had to add up to over 230.
Clare bravely rowed in the novice team for the north-west region. (By ‘novices’, they mean rowers who have never won a race). Dr Holliday told An Tirisdeach:
“The standard was blisteringly high, and, by all accounts, rapidly improving as the bigger clubs invest in winter training, technical improvements and weekly competitions. I made the mistake of agreeing to be part of a so-called ‘Intermediate’ crew. There’s nothing quite like rowing flat out for five minutes with three twenty-somethings from Ullapool to teach one respect and to give thanks at the end that one had lived to tell the tale! There was breath-taking sunshine and bone-numbing cold, but a great atmosphere among the rowers strung out in their teams along the banks of the loch. Several of the clubs had even brought pavilion tents with the club name emblazoned on them. Afterwards they held the AGM of the association. The 2019 Skiffie World Championships will be held in July in Stranraer, with over two thousand skiff rowers expected. We on Tiree have a long way to go, but I am sure we can build a healthy rowing group on the island and – who knows? – we might even get out there and start racing.”
The team had a good snoop around the skiffs on show, bringing a hoard of photographs back for the design team at home to work on.