We have despatches from across the Tasman Sea, letting us know that St Ayles Skiff movement in New Zealand is thriving and getting larger every month. Kiwi rowers were with us for the St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Franklin, following the last MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in 2015. The team tells us they will be back in 2017 to challenge again and that local teams had better be in top shape if they want compete. The growing enthusiasm for these beautifully-designed Iain Oughtred boats, and the ease with which they can be made the focus of energetic community groups getting together to build them, is mirrored here in Tasmania. The town of Franklin, on the Huon River south of Hobart, is the focal point, with frequent outings with local clubs and visitors.
There’s an excellent article from the leading UK newspaper The Guardian, on the history of the St Ayles movement. You can read it HERE.
The first St Ayles skiff to be completed in Australia was built by the now-famous Women on Water (WOW) who tackled to the project with enthusiasm, even though some of the builders had hardly picked up a saw before. The resulting launch of ‘Imagine‘ certainly caught the imagination of many more eager builders and the world-wide fleet continues to grow. Two boats at Cygnet and another at Taroona have recently joined the Tasmania fleet and there are more under construction.
So the gauntlet has been gently laid on the ground and we look forward to welcoming the New Zealand enthusiasts at the next Australian Wooden Boat Festival and the Franklin Regatta that follows. Please, be nice to them when they arrive…after all, it’s a long row!