Stranraer was chosen to hold the third Skiffie World Championships, and it would be difficult to imagine a venue better equipped or more capable of hosting the 57 clubs and an estimated 2000 people from across the rowing world. Teams from the USA, Canada, Tasmania, New Zealand, Holland, England, Ireland, and of course Scotland, were present making in total 693 crew.
Arran have been training for this event for over a year, culminating in sending a small squad of eleven rowers to Stranraer for the week. With such a small squad it was always going to be exhausting for the team, as most rowers had at least two races per day and on one occasion four races in the day.
Because of the large number of skiffs entered for the event, all races consisted of either 3 or 4 heats then a final. The starting line up for most races was fifteen skiffs, regular club regattas normally have a six skiff line up, so it was challenging particularly for the cox’s right from the start. Racing was in lanes totalling 2km with each skiff given a specific turn buoy midway through the course. The southerly breeze which was present at the beginning of the week then changed to a north westerly, made conditions particularly challenging at the halfway turn buoys where keeping the skiffs in their own lanes was proving difficult, with many clubs being awarded time penalties for clashing oars. Arran’s coxes skilfully evaded such penalties and on a couple of occasions used these conditions to their advantage.
In total there were twenty two different categories of which Arran competed in ten, qualifying twice for the repechage (fastest skiff not to reach the final) in the mixed 40+ and the women’s 50+. And deservedly reached the finals three times in the mixed 50+ – 15th overall, Women 40+ – 9th overall, and Women 60+ – 13th overall. This was a great achievement for the Arran team.
HRH Princess Ann visited the event and started the Ladies 60 + race and afterwards took time to visit the teams and chat to the Arran squad.
The overall winners of the Skiffie World Championships 2019 were Dundrum from Northern Ireland. North Berwick, who the were overall winners at Arran’s Regatta a few weeks ago, took gold in the Men’s Open putting them number one in the world for that category. Arran CRC clearly needs more competitive male and female rowers in the 30+ 40+ 50+ age group if they were to improve their world ranking. The next world championships will be held in 2022 at a venue yet to be confirmed.
Text: David Ingham
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Photos: Saskia Coulson / CT Productions, Arran’s ladies 60+: photo David Ingham