The St Ayles Skiff

For the technically minded, the St Ayles Skiff is built from a kit using high quality marine plywood using the clinker ply method. It is 22ft (6.5m) long and has a beam of 5ft 8in (1.7m). There is some variation in the weight according to exactly how it is built, but most are being finished at around 350lb (160kg) – light enough to be lifted on and off trailers by its own crew—though more hands would be preferred.

The kit contains the plywood planking and frames, together with the moulds over which it is built. The moulds can be re-used several times; builders are encouraged to pass on their moulds and building frames to new clubs. The current cost of the full kit is £1451, Planking and Frame kits for subsequent builds are £1198. Shipping within the mainland UK is normally £180.

More items will be required to complete the skiffs, not least the timber for the keel, stems, seats and gunwales. Glue, paint, varnish, and the very small number of screws and nails are also required. At the time of writing, it should be possible to get a St Ayles on the water for around £3500, with additional costs for trailer, cover, and lifejackets etc.

While the plans are included as part of the kit, there is considerable latitude allowed within the class rules, and any new group building a St Ayles should consult with existing groups on what has been developed over the past three years.

The time to build a skiff is variable depending on the skills and time available. The fastest build (by a professional boatbuilder) was 6 weeks, but most take around 4-6 months.

The skiffs have been funded in many different ways. Money has been raised by raffles and ceilidhs, by a small group putting their hands in their pockets, or in some cases by grant applications. Local fundraising is recommended as it raises the profile of the project locally, and gets the community involved at an early stage.

When the skiff is built, most have been launched to great local fanfare, with crowds of over 300 coming to the celebration of some.

The current racing scene sees races of distances from a few hundred yards to 2 or 3 miles. Exceptionally, there are a few races of much greater length, such as the 14 mile Tyne Row and the 22 mile Great River Race held on the Thames during September each year. There are also an increasing number of Social Rows, where clubs will get together to explore and enjoy some touring in company.

In short, there is something for everyone.


(taken from the Introduction to the St Ayles Skiff provided by SCRA)