A brief history of the St Ayles Skiff written by Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats.
The story of the St Ayles started in early 2009 when the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther in Fife approached Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats to run a boatbuilding course.
During the discussions on the course, Alec suggested that the boat to be built should seek to revive the rowing regattas that took place around the East Fife coalfield until the mid-1950’s. The miners built their own craft from timber scavenged from the collieries.
This suggestion was enthusiastically taken up by the museum, but none of those present at the meeting had any inkling of the incredible take-up of the idea. The initial idea was that Jordan Boats & the Fisheries Museum would concentrate their efforts on reviving coastal rowing around Fife. Very quickly, it was found that there were other lower-key efforts going on elsewhere on the Forth, and the efforts of Jordan Boats & the Museum were combined with the salesmanship of North Berwick based sailor and former champion rower Robbie Wightman.
Iain Oughtred was commissioned to design the new boat, to be based on the Fair Isle Skiff, a generic form that is descended from the smaller Viking skiffs. Once Oughtred had produced the plans, Alec Jordan set about turning them into a kit, and when this had been done, building a prototype to make sure that the kit would go together well.
While Alec Jordan and many other interested people were building the prototype, Robbie Wightman was using his many boating contacts along the south side of the Forth to sell the idea, with the result that early in the proceedings, significant interest had been registered from several communities.
When the time came to launch the prototype on Oct 31 2009, spectators had travelled from as far afield as Ullapool and the Isles of Skye and Luing.
On the project launch day, the prototype was rowed by a very large number of people from around the Forth and further afield; very soon the orders started coming in. By May 2010, there were six skiffs ready to race at the inaugural Regatta at Anstruther, when the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formally constituted.
At the time of writing there are over 100 St Ayles Skiffs either launched or under construction and the inaugural world champs were held in Ullapool Scotland on 8-14 July 2013.
Information and photos of the world champs availible here