A MAJOR international rowing competition will be hosted by Stranraer after the town’s bid for the St Ayles Skiff World Championships was successful.

July next year will see an estimated 1000 competitors descend on the town and 30 racing lanes in place on Lochryan. Visitors will travel from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, the competition – known as Skiffieworlds – is expected to have a considerable economic benefit to the area.

It’s another success for the Stranraer St Ayles Skiff Project.

Wendi Cuffe, of the Stranraer Watersports Association, said it was “absolutely fantastic news”.

“It’s going to be a big event for Stranraer”, she said. “Last time it was held in Strangford Lough and they had 65 skiffs competing – but since then, in just a year, the number of clubs on the books has increased to 75.

“There will be a real buzz in the town with such a lot of people visiting, and it goes on for a full week,” Ms Cuffe said.

The exact dates of the competition, which is run by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, are still to be confirmed, but a taster of 2019 can be had at this year’s Coastal Rowing Regatta on August 18-19.

Stranraer’s successful bid for Skiffieworlds means this regatta is now expected to be even bigger, as many teams will want to test the waters.

“We’ll have a lot of clubs coming, because they’ll want to see what type of rowing is here, what the lanes are like,” said Ms Cuffe. She is a keen rower herself and says it is a “brilliant” experience.

The visitors competing will bring their 22-foot traditional wooden St Ayles Skiffs with teams of four plus cox in each.  The skiff is a four-man boat based on the Fair Isle yoal.

As in Stranraer with the new boat shed and St Ayles Skiff Project, the building of the skiffs is a process that often brings together people from all walks of life, and each boat has a name and colours which reflect where they were made.

Picture: PR Imaging