Stranraer gets set to welcome the Worlds

The full programme for SkiffieWorlds 2019 has been announced, offering a packed programme of World Championship coastal rowing in stunning Loch Ryan alongside VIP guests, a huge shoreside festival and a schedule of events and family friendly activities that includes everything from ceilidhs and chainsaw carving, to wizard schools and ghost walks!

SkiffieWorlds is the World Championship for the St Ayles Class of coastal rowing boat, taking place in Stranraer (south west Scotland) from 7 to 13 July 2019.  The St Ayles coastal rowing boat was invented in Scotland 10 years ago and the sport is now one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Stranraer SkiffieWorlds 2019 through our National Programme, ahead of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. With its stunning coast lines, rivers and lochs, Scotland is the perfect stage for rowing events like this and it is a fantastic addition to our packed portfolio for this year.”

The World Championship takes place every three years and Stranraer won the competitive bid to host the event after impressing judges with the beautiful sheltered water of Loch Ryan’s sea loch, one of the most distinctive features of Scotland’s south west coast. 

The SkiffieWorlds will be the largest event the town has hosted, and is expected to increase the population of Stranraer by a third. More than 700 crews from fifty seven clubs from around the world will take part, including teams from as far away as the United States, Australia, Canada and Tasmania. Visitors to the world championship event will include The Princess Royal, who will attend the event on 8 July.

Stranraer, formerly the main port to Belfast, is reinventing itself as a leisure and marine tourism destination. With the ferries now stopping further up the headline, the clear waters of the Loch Ryan foreshore is available for tourism and recreation purposes, and there are ambitions to position the town as an international coastal water sports destination.

Wendi Cuffe of Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club, and a former economic development professional, commented: “Loch Ryan is a perfect stage for water sports. It’s a natural amphitheatre with calm, sheltered water, amazing onshore facilities, a stunning park and its close proximity to the town and its facilities makes it really pretty perfect for competitive water sports events and for water based leisure activities.

“Hosting SkiffieWorlds 2019 is a team effort involving many individuals and community groups, all working together to help Stranraer shine.  Loch Ryan is the jewel in the crown of Stranraer and there’s a real opportunity to build on SkiffieWorlds to position Stranraer and Loch Ryan as an internationally renowned water sports destination. This is only the start.”

SkiffieWorlds is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council, EventScotland, SSE, the National Lottery Awards for All, Kilgallioch Community Fund   and a host of local sponsors and funders.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said: “Our Council is thrilled to support this fantastic event. The hosting of the SkiffieWorlds Championship is a huge opportunity for Stranraer, not just to show off Loch Ryan to the world, but to build on the economic re-development we have seen over the last few years. I am sure the event will be a great success and see visitors flock to Stranraer and wider Wigtownshire for this exciting event.”

The St Ayles Skiff is an oared rowing boat inspired by the traditional Fair Isle skiff.  The standard Crew is four rowers, each with a single oar, and a coxswain.   The name of the design comes from the former chapel which now forms the entrance to the Scottish Fisheries Museum.  An essential part of St Ayles Skiff rowing is that building the boat itself is a fundamental part of the sport. This boat building process brings coastal communities together and teaches skills.

The SkiffieWorlds is a spectator event as well as a sporting event.  The festival programme has been designed to give international teams a flavour of Scotland, with local artisan food, screenings of Scottish films, heritage experiences and ceilidh dances. Visitors and day trippers to SkiffieWorlds will find a family friendly programme packed with fun and entertainment, as well as live-action drone footage screenings and live sporting commentary of the races.  The event is also a fantastic opportunity to ‘wet your appetite’ ahead of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 which will shine a spotlight on the destination’s wonderful inland and coastal landscapes through a programme of activity and events.

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