East Coast Rowing Council

Welcome to the East Coast Rowing Council page at Coastal Rowing . Net. The ECRC would like to sincerely thank the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation for kindly hosting us on their website.

The East Coast Rowing Council is the Governing Body of Traditional Coastal Rowing on the East Coast of Ireland. We are affilliated to the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation who are the recognised Governing Body of Coastal Rowing on the Island of Ireland. On the East Coast of Ireland,  coastal rowing is undertaken by crews of four, each rowing one sweep, and a coxswain, in wooden clinker-built, double ended boats called ‘skiffs’ or as they are more widely referred to as ‘East Coast Skiffs’.

Formed in 1936, the East Coast Rowing Council was the tasked with the formalisation of proper rules of racing, coordinating regatta dates and ensuring harmony between member clubs, which was not an easy task. Prior to 1936, regatta organisers made up their own rules, almost exclusively to benefit the local crews and they were often known to make the rules up as they went along or change them in the middle of a race, again to suit their own crews. What was legal in one race often became illegal in the next. It was a free-for-all. Another task of the East Coast Rowing Council was the need to set down rules as to the construction of Skiffs. Rules were laid down as to sizes and weights of the boats to make races fairer and more importantly, Safer.

The East Coast Rowing Council has traditionally represented clubs in counties Dublin & Wicklow, but has more recently had new clubs affiliate from Counties Louth and Wexford.

Tradition and Heritage is very important to the East Coast Rowing Council. The protection of our traditional class of boat is imperitive. Clinker type skiffs were once one of the most numerous types of working boats found along the eastern seaboard of Ireland. They were recorded in 1874 by historian E.W. Holdsworth, who noted that “The smaller boats employed for the line-fishery are of the same style as the Norway yawl, sharp at both ends”.

Skiff racing as we know it has its origins in the occupation of Hobbling. Hobblers were freelance ships pilots, and the means of gaining employment was by racing out to be the first to get a line onto incoming ships. In those days there was no such thing as 20 horse power outboard engines. All they had was 4 man power engines. Four men pulling on four heavy wooden oars racing out to be the first to throw a line onboard the incoming cargo vessels.  Competition was strong because 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.

The skiffs worked mainly between Lambay Island just north of Dublin Bay and Wicklow Head, where they required considerable skill on behalf of the oarsmen. This tradition of rowing is now carried on through the many 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 and we are now priveliged to have amongst our ranks clubs from Skerries in North Dublin and Drogheda in County Louth.

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