Newry Mourne and Down District Council played host to the Skiffie Worlds in Strangford Lough last week – an international event which has attracted thousands of coastal rowing enthusiasts to the South Down region. The event was also supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council.
Coastal rowing is a growing sport and in the past two years local County Down clubs have set up and built St Ayle’s skiffs with the help of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership.
Strangford Lough was chosen by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association as the host venue for the second world-class rowing championships for the first time with the racing activity based at Delamont Park, Killeagh.
Dundrum Rowing Club beat off strong competition from almost fifty skiffs and 1000 international participants from as far away as the Netherlands, Tasmania, Canada, USA, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to take the title of Skiffie World Champion 2016.
The skiffs are traditionally styled colourful rowing boats with each one carefully crafted by the community of rowers and many have carved features representing their region, such as Donaghadee’s Light house and Dundrum’s Seal.
Newly Mourne and Down District Council worked closely with organisers, local rowing clubs and competitors to develop an appealing programme around the Skiffie Worlds to mark the area as a premier tourism destination on the island of Ireland. Events across the week included children’s ‘Skiffie inspired’ art workshops, street theatre, craft exhibitions, an Artisan Food Fayre, live music and entertainment.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “This is very significant event and the Council are very proud to work with the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association and our neighbouring Council in Ards and North Down as well as Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership to bring this to fruition. It is fantastic to see so many visitors coming to explore and enjoy our region this week and the feedback has been very positive.”
Isabel Hood, Chairperson of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP), addresses the packed marquee in Strangford Green welcoming all the various clubs and participants. She said: “This has been a magnificent event demonstrate by sharing, effort, community spirit an challenge. Teeter have been many competitors from far an wide and the oldest was a gentleman from Carrick who is 81 years old.
“I would like to thank the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association for selecting Strangford Lough for the 2016 venue. And our thanks also go to Newry Mourne and Down Distrct Council and Ards and North Down Borough Council for the great support for this event, and to all the volunteers and the staff at the SLLP and many others for their hard work in making this all happen.
“The venue at Delamont Country Park too has been exceptional and it is an area with many special environmental designations we are proud of. Environmental sustainability is a right, and we must respect this right.
‘We are all looking forward to the next Skiffie Worlds in three years time.
“We marked the clubs on their best performance over eight rows in order to ensure a fair result and we are delighted everyone had such a good time in this year’s event”.