The Tasskiffie2015 as it became known was the first ever Southern Hemisphere regatta for the St Ayles skiffs, Hosted by the Living Boat trust in Franklin Tasmania.
The incredible growth of the St Ayles class worldwide has surprised everyone but if you were at this regatta in Franklin you would understand the reason for all the excitement. With around 160 competitors taking part over the three days, 28 events including a long row 10km, 1km and 2 km races and a well attended community / corporate challenge its hard to imagine that you could pack anymore fun into a weekend.
Racing was in lanes with the 1 km races going down river for 500m before rounding a mark and returning 500m to the finish. The 2km races involved rowing down river 500m rounding a mark then 1000m upriver before rounding a mark for a 500m sprint to the finish! As you can imagine there is lots of tactics involved and the 180 degree turns become quite critical as boat lengths can be won or lost here, the racing was close and the pace fast especially in the semi’s and finals.
Crews were made up of mixed teams, women’s teams and men’s teams in a variety of age groups. Boats were shared freely and sometimes this meant that you didn’t always get your favourite boat for each event, however it meant a large number of people got to race the seven available boats.
The community of Franklin really got behind this event and this made it a absolute joy to be involved in, The community / corporate event was a hoot with Volunteer fireman racing mounted horseman from WW1 and pretty girls in frocks and hats.
The Kiwi team are pleased to be able to report that unlike our cricket team we were able to follow through on our semi final wins and take out a number of finals including the mens open 1km, the mixed over 50’s 2km and the grand final the mens open 2km. That final race the mens open 2km was a real test of endurance and we all had nothing left to spare at the finish.
One of the highlights for me of this regatta was meeting so many warm and friendly people, a number of whom have now become good friends, The local community of Franklin can be well proud of the way this regatta was put together and so well supported. From the concerts that popped up along the way, the friendly house visits to look at boat projects, a shared meal with the Iranian refugees, chilling out at the LBT, the school that benefited from the rowing club cafe, Talks by Alec Jorden, exploration trips on the riverboat Nancy.
This chap ( Robert Ayliffe ) needs a jolly good pat on the back, not only did he bring a couple of boats across from Australia (different country from Tasmania! ) but also has somehow found himself championing a group of Iranian refugees and a Welsh church from Melbourne, and all with aplomb and a smile. He also just happens to be the same guy who CNC cut all the Kiwi St Ayles kits at his great workshop Stray Dog Boatworks in South Australia
And before you know it, its time to pack up, load the boats and head home…
Theres been so many neat people who helped us along the way that I couldn’t list them all for fear of missing someone, but you know who you are and on behalf of NZ coastal Rowing a huge Thank You.
Also without a doubt It wouldn’t have happened without the unfailing enthusiasm and can do attitude of this guy, Mike Mahoney we thank you and Tawera Group for making this trip possible and for having the gumption to back what started out as a silly idea and has grown into a huge adventure.