The model of a Fair Isle skiff in the Scottish Fisheries Museum which inspired the design of the St Ayles Skiff.


Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club has developed from a small group of individuals inspired by Topher Dawson and the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project to build and compete in a St Ayles skiff (the SCRP class boat) in Regattas around the coast of Scotland and possibly further afield. The idea behind the Coastal Rowing Project is that communities build and race their home-built boats against others from around the coast of Scotland. Topher built our first Skiff in the Spring of 2010 and has steadily refined her since. If you stay in the Loch Broom or Coigach area, and would like to get involved or just see what we are up to then please get in touch. A Coigach Community group is very active in the Coastal Rowing scene – if you stay in Coigach they will be happy to see you.

Initial Drawing of the St Ayles Skiff by internationally renowned small boat designer Iain Oughtred.

So what is the St Ayles Skiff – in simple terms a reworking by Iain Oughtred, renowned small boat designer, of the traditional Fair Isle Skiff for Clinker/Lapstrake Ply construction. 22 feet in length and 5ft 6inches in breadth she is big in the shed but soon shrinks when on the water with a crew aboard.

The design was commissioned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther and digitized for kit manufacture by Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats. Using the Jordan Boats kit as the basis of the project means that all the boats should be very close in hull form and dimensions resulting in teamwork being the deciding factor in competition. Use of the kit also means that the cost of a boat is minimised – the maximum build cost is around £3,000 (in 2010), the build method means that it is well within the ability of an average DIYer. Having a Skiff built professionally in ‘real’ wood would cost around £10,000. The finished kit looks like this :

The Prototype St Ayles Skiff by Jordan Boats

The St Ayles has been designed for four oarpersons and a Cox. In competition rowing the oars (wo)men need to be concentrating on their technique so a Cox is necessary to keep them on course. The racing rules have been drawn up by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association formed from groups joining the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project. Much more information on the background and future intentions may be found on the Scottish Coastal Rowing Prospectus.