East Coast Rowing Association
The East Coast Rowing Council is the regional affiliate of the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation representing Coastal Rowing Clubs on Ireland's East Coast from counties Dublin, Wicklow & North Wexford. As per local tradition, East Coast rowing is undertaken by crews of four rowers with one sweep oar each, and a coxswain, in 25ft wooden clinker-built boats. Formed in 1936, the East Coast Rowing Council (ECRC) is one of Irelands oldest regional Coastal Rowing Associations and it has the task of formalising rules, organising regatta dates and adjudicating on any disputes between member clubs and crews. Strict rules were laid down as to sizes and weights of skiffs to make racing safer, fairer and more enjoyable for all who participate. The ECRC is also a founding member of the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation along with the South & Mid Kerry Rowing Board and the Irish Yawl Rowing Association. represents clubs in the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, and North Wexford.
East Coast Skiff racing has its origins in the occupation of Hobbling. Hobblers were freelance Harbour Pilots and competition was strong to win the contracts to pilot approaching ships into port and these contracts were won by prospective Pilots rowing and racing out to meet approaching ships to be the first to board the and win the lucrative contracts. Not only did the successful hobblers receive payment to pilot the ships into port but they were also awarded the contract for discharging/loading those ships whilst in port so it was well worth their while.
The Hobblers primarily worked between Lambay Island to the north of Dublin Bay and Wicklow Head, where they required considerable skill on behalf of their oarsmen. The long tradition of rowing is now carried on through the rowing clubs affiliated to East Coast Rowing Council. These clubs can be found around the old Dublin pilot stations of Ringsend and East Wall in Dublin Port, Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow, Arklow, and Courtown.
Clinker skiff-type boats were once one of the most numerous type of working boats found along the eastern seaboard of Ireland. They were recorded in 1874 by historian E.W. Holdsworth, where he noted that ‘The smaller boats employed for the line-fishery are of the same style as the Norway yawl, sharp at both ends.’.
The current members of the ECRC are:
- Skerries Rowing Club, The Harbour, Skerries, Co. Dublin
- St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, East Link Bridge, Ringsend, Dublin 4
- Stella Maris Rowing Club, Poolbeg Slip, Ringsend, Dublin 4
- St. Michael’s Rowing Club, Coal Harbour, Dún Laoghaire
- Dalkey Rowing Club, Colliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
- Bray Rowing Club, South Promenade, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow
- Greystones Rowing Club, Harbour, Greystones, Co. Wicklow
- Wicklow Rowing Club, New Pier, Wicklow.
- Arklow Rowing Club, The Dock, Arklow, Co. Wicklow.
- Courtown Rowing Club, Courtown Harbour, Gorey, Co. Wexford
Each year the ECRC organises a summer schedule of regattas at clubs from Skerries & Ringsend to Arklow & Courtown where crews of all ages compete during the regatta season. ECRC clubs and in particular Arklow and St. Michael’s Rowing Clubs regularly compete in the biennial ‘Celtic Challenge’, a race of over 90 miles from Arklow to Aberystwyth in Wales as well as other long distance races such as the annual Ocean to City race in Cork, or the Kish lighthouse row in Dublin. Clubs can be regularly seen training at sea along the East Coast between April and September each year.
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