Coastal Rowing Surges Forward
An Suidhe Wind Farm Community Fund has supported the development of two clubs introducing local people to coastal rowing, at Loch Awe and at Loch Fyne.
Coastal rowing, where community groups build their own St Ayles Skiff to take part in social and competitive rowing events, has become increasingly popular in Scotland. There are over 70 clubs under the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association umbrella, with thousands of people enjoying the teamwork required to build and race the boats. Clubs regularly come together for events, including regattas, building links between coastal communities.
The Fund has supported two clubs in the An Suidhe area. In 2019, Loch Awe Coastal Rowing Club (formerly Kilchrenan, Inverinan & Dalavich Coastal Rowing Club) received an award of £2,405 to fund equipment including a launch trolley, gazebo, and life jacket safety straps. In 2020, Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club received an award of £1,848 to purchase a trailer and cover for transporting and storing their skiff.
Loch Awe Coastal Rowing Club was formed in 2018, becoming a registered charity in 2020. The Club now has two self-built skiffs, named ‘Mingulay’ and ‘Cruachan’, and members row regularly from Taychreggan on the shores of Loch Awe and longer local coastal adventure rows at the weekends.
The Upper Loch Fyne Club was established in 2020, launching their first skiff, named ‘Mrs MacPhunn’, in 2021. The unusual name for the skiff is taken from a local legend about a Mr MacPhunn, who was put on trial at Inveraray Jail and hanged for his crime. His wife collected his body and rowed him across Loch Fyne to Strachur, where they lived. During the crossing, Mr McPhunn is said to have miraculously revived and lived for many more years.
As well as their regular training sessions, the two clubs participate in activities connecting with other coastal rowing clubs and bringing in visitors from across Scotland. These have included celebrating the launch of Glencoe Boat Club’s skiff and a regatta hosted by the Loch Awe club in April 2022. The regatta attracted more than 150 rowers and spectators, with the main race across an 11km route from Dalavich to Taychreggan. A club member described the scene at the start of the event:
“48 rowers and 12 coxwains of all ages and fitness levels made a wonderful picture stretched over the oars propelling brightly-coloured hulls along bright strips of sparkling water.”
Coastal rowing can bring a wide range of benefits, from the physical and mental health benefits of being out on the water to developing craft skills locally and the involvement of club members in building the boats. The ethos of coastal rowing is an inclusive one which welcomes all ages and abilities.
There were also some unanticipated benefits from the grants. The Loch Awe club were approached during Covid-19 restrictions by the manager of a local Inn asking to borrow the gazebo so that they could serve light snacks outside. Restrictions meant that rowing was not possible, and so the shelter was not required by the Club at that time. It was loaned free of charge out of appreciation of the Inn’s role as a community hub – the Inn was also collecting and distributing food and making up food parcels.
An Suidhe Wind Farm Community Fund supports community projects benefitting those living in the areas covered by the Community Councils of: Glenorchy and Innishail (Eredine only); Inveraray; Furnace, and by Dalavich Improvement Group.