Wormit goes to Skiffie Worlds in The Netherlands

At the end of June, enthusiastic rowers from Scotland and beyond gathered in Kortgene, the Netherlands, to take part in the 2022 St Ayles Skiff World Championships, more familiar to participants as ‘SkiffieWorlds’. Reflecting the growth in recent years of Scottish coastal rowing as a challenging and rewarding activity for all ages and abilities, the presence of over 1300 rowers – or ‘skiffies’ – from no fewer than 54 clubs, marked this as the biggest gathering of its kind to date.  As well as the skiffies themselves, over 40 of their skiffs, rowed by crews of four and steered by a coxswain, had been towed to the Championships, and made for a colourful sight moored together on the pontoon constructed at the Paardekreek watersports resort specially for the occasion.  Based on the traditional Fair Isle skiffs, small fishing vessels capable of handling rough seas, they nevertheless looked equally at home on the benign waters of Zeeland’s Veerse Meer.

The main competition, which took place over six days, saw skiffs and their crews taking part in a variety of race classes based on age and gender, as well as mixed and open races, and featured some very closely fought heats and finals, with cheering crowds on the grandstand constructed close to the start and finish lines providing ear-splitting encouragement for their clubs.  It was notable too that notwithstanding the support for their own crews and skiffs, enthusiastic and noisy support was also given by the crowd to those at the back of the field.  This was an aspect of the event also evident at the daily awards ceremonies held in the impressively capacious red and white striped marquee at the conclusion of racing, which also provided the venue for a full programme of evening entertainment.

As well as clubs from the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, England, Canada and the USA, local Scottish representation included Broughty Ferry and Wormit, with Broughty chalking up an impressive fifth place on the final scoreboard, and with Wormit gaining their first ever podium position, winning bronze in the sixty years and over mixed final and an overall 20th place out of 54. Overall winners were Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club from Northern Ireland, with Sketrick Coastal Rowing Club finishing second.  Eastern Amateur Coastal Rowing Club, based in Portobello, came third overall, the highest placed club from Scotland.

All who took part agreed that SkiffieWorlds had been a fantastic experience, with plenty of opportunities to test themselves against rival clubs, fill vacant slots in other clubs’ boats, make new Skiffie friends and renew old friendships. The warmth and friendship between all clubs was very evident with pleasure in each other’s achievements, a real coming together of the St Alyes Skiff community.

Text Dai John, Videos Jock Owen.

You can view some of the action here: