The January 2010 issue of Water Craft has dropped through my letter box and it is a bumper rowing issue!
I'll mention first Pete Greenfield's affectionate farewell to Ralph Bird, boatbuilder and the prime mover in the revival of Cornish Pilot Gig racing.
As Pete writes, it is an odd coincidence that the obituary comes in the same issue that highlights the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, which aims to do for Scotland what Ralph did for the West Country - revive a formerly robust rowing tradition.
Three articles cover the St Ayles Skiff. Alec Jordan, who makes the kit, describes how the project came together. Iain Oughtred describes the philosophy and aims of his design, and Chris Perkins relates the tale of the construction of the prototype. Chris's picture shows Alec marking out something technical with a very professional air of concentration.
I was fascinated by the origin of pleasure rowing in Fife - apparently it was the miners rather than the fishermen who built and raced rowing skiffs. Prominent were the Davidson brothers, who were so good the mine owner, the Earl of Wemyss (pronounced Weems) brought crack university oarsmen up from the south to learn their technique. I suspect that most of the secret was to become a miner and swing a pick six days a week, thus building up enormous muscles.
In the 'Workshop' section of the magazine, Nick Coppin describes a neat adjustable heel rest so a dinghy can be effectively rowed while not being in the way while sailing. A pair of rests can be slid up two of the floorboards and automatically lock in position. Very clever.
And there is a spiffing article by me about the Clovelly Skiff. Here's a bonus picture: