What’s all this talk of building a St Ayle Skiff ? & What is it?

By Geoffrey Daniel

Introducing Rowing to a sailing club?
Why row when you can enjoy a good sail?
Consider synchronising 4 rowers & a coxswain to row 200 kg of timber,
nearly 6 mt long.! Rowing, yes rowing, but what are the benefits?
“Working together will make it happen”
Our History
Mordialloc sailing club as we know has a proud heritage of active
involvement in the local community now for over 75years. We are
fortunate to be one of the very few sailing clubs based on a creek or river
and Port Phillip. Our club facilities are built on reclaimed land. Surrounded
by water. We provide water based activities.
Up till now our club has centred its activities around sailing and the
training of those interested in discovering the thrills, spills & just being ‘out
there’ by providing a safe environment, encouraging individuals to
challenge themselves and stimulate the mind and body.
Consider how others may see us. Sited on public land, and as a
community building with support and a new lease from the City of
Kingston, plus with the club facilities being used minimally during non
sailing days. We need to grow our water based activities.
Our Future
The time has come to offer more alternative ways to promote our club
and be seen actively encouraging the community to be part of ‘the spirit’
that has held Mordialloc creek together for so many years. We need to add
to that tradition, and be recognised as leaders in providing services.
You may say, “Yes we know all that”, but why not consider rowing as
another activity, an alternative way to have fun, to be an active part of a
small group, getting ‘out there’, getting fit or even fitter than now.
The club is actively planning to lead a group in a community build
project of a 6 mt, St Ayles skiff , to have it named & launched by October
2019. The major sponsor of the build will be announced on Saturday 6 th
October, at the official opening of the summer sailing season.

The Skiff itself.
Designed by an Australian, based on a Scottish Dory, there is now a
community of over 200 St Ayle skiffs around the world. Have a look on
utube or the St Ayle skiff Association of Australia.
Currently in Australia there are around 20 skiffs built, plus another 8
under construction. In Victoria there are 7, with Mordialloc’s being the 8 th .
Other skiffs are located in Warnambool, Geelong, Williamstown,
Melbourne & Leongatha. As you can see we will have the first St Ayle skiff on
the south east side of Port Phillip.
The formula used by other communities is to bring together various
people to build the skiff from the kit of laminated timbers, then have it
rowed by various community groups on a weekly basis, on different days
throughout the week.
Some folk enjoy the challenge of the build whilst others the physical
activity of the rowing. To those who are adverse to sailing, rowing in a
proven safely designed skiff offers the opportunity to appreciate their own
coast line in a very different manner & often for the first time. We enjoy it ,
why not share it
With a limited set up prior to launch, time and preparation are kept to
a minimum, enabling more actual time on the water. The same goes for
retrieval and storage.
State and International regattas are held regularly, with visiting crews
forming to row local skiffs. Skiffs have been rowed on the Yarra, Murray,
Goulburn & Glenelg rivers and at Nagambie, Mallacutta lakes. They can
provide memorable experiences, versatility, enjoyment & beauty of new
The three skiffs based in Franklin, Tasmania will again be rowed from
Cockles Beach in the far southeast up to Hobart for the Wooden Boat
Festival in February 2019. Crews from England, Scotland, New Zealand &
other Australian states will be rowing over the 10 day expedition, initially
in open waters. It is great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience in2017.
By introducing new people to our club, it will help us to survive well into
the future by being flexible and providing valuable experiences for our
own local community.
“Working together will make it happen.”