Friday, May 21, 2010

Scottish Coastal Rowing Project

We haven't visited the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project in quite a while. There are several boats being built and even a few finished. The latest to be launched is the Ullapool Syndicate with their Ulla. Take a look at that Viking steering system!

The competition has started already with each team trying to outdo the other in beautiful finish details. If you visit Loch Broom, you will find a list of links on the side bar for several builds of the St. Ayles Skiff in progress. Look for the column labeled "Coastal Rowing".

I especially enjoyed the site called Shetlopedia, where the names of all of the components of the Yole and the Sixareen are defined.

For those who might have questions about the steerboard (starboard) on this boat, as I did, we have an explanation from Topher Dawson, one of the principal builders of Ulla:

"The plans and the prototype [of the St. Ayles Skiff] have a rudder. In boats of this profile with a curved sternpost there are some drawbacks to a stern hung rudder. I don't want to exaggerate the problems but if you have two sets of rudder fittings close together then they lie more or less in a straight line and the rudder will hinge in a predictable manner."

"Unfortunately putting them close together is weak because a lot of the rudder
then overhangs the fittings. If you put the fittings far apart then they tend to
jam at extreme angles of turn because the rudder is hingeing about a straight
line between the fittings, but the axis of the pintles tends to be parallel to
the curved profile of the sternpost."

"As well as this, the gap between the rudder and the sternpost is facing forward
and acts as a mouth for creel ropes and the like. I do not have to point out how
detrimental to a good race it is to trail a creel rope."

"The other drawback is that if the rudder projects below the keel it needs to be
unshipped to launch and recover, which is often when a rudder would be useful,
and to get the below water fitting to engage when the boat is moving with the
waves is tricky. Adrian has a very good patent method of overcoming this which I
am sure he would be glad to show you."

"If the rudder does not project below the keel it may lack area."

"Our solution which may or may not work is the ancient Viking steerboard, as
found on your genuine Viking ships, and some small boats our size as well. It
consists of a special paddle shaped rudder with a nearly vertical shaft mounted
outside the boat about 15% forward of the stern on the starboard (steerboard)
side. A short athwartships tiller fits in a slot in its top and because the
steerboard is narrow and balanced, little effort is needed to steer."

"It is hinged just above the waterline on a projection from the boat with a withy
or other rope, and held by a leather strap to a bracket at the gunwale.
Releasing this allows it to kick up for beaching, so it can be made to go below
the keel. The tiller stays inside the boat and does not sweep the cox's position
like the plan tiller."

Thank you for the input, Topher. I was puzzled by this design, having never seen it before.

Once again, a heartfelt thanks to Chris Perkins for his fine photos and strong sense of community. He is responsible for keeping us all appraised of this project and his efforts deserve applause. The pictures displayed here are all his.

Keep up the good work Chris!

There is more about this project at Rowing for Pleasure and In The Boat Shed.

Here's a video of the prototype St. Ayles Skiff out for mid-winter practice, in open water. Wonderful!

Complements of Jordan Boats


Anonymous said...

I am skeptical of boat this size for 4 rowers. I've done a lot of rowing with groups in a 21' Beachcomber DOry and the spacing between thwarts is just not enough in a boat this size for the rowers to really lean into the catch and have a full pull and layback into the recovery. The result is that the rowers need to use a short stroke and always a high pull rating and the work is all in the arms. If you can't get a little let and torso/back into it, there just isn't a lot of enjoyment and power being generated.

The boat needs to be at least 25' long.

doryman said...

There was some conversation on this topic back when the prototype was launched. I forget where it occured, but the conjecture was that this boat with three rowers might be very competitive.
I too like a long pull, but I've rowed with others who's pull rate is habitually faster. It's an effective method, just not to my liking. In the St. Ayles Skiff, four rowers with a long pull will have to be perfectly synchronized.