Thursday, 7 November 2013

Early Days of the Claydon Skiffs

More Claydon myth-busting.
I had been told the mould had been taken off a Thames workboat used for ferrying passengers across the river and transferring crew to ships. But according to Keith Webster, it could have been from anywhere:
Hi Chris
I did actually speak to one of the organisers back then. If I remember right his name was Len Saunders and I think he was involved with Felixtowe RC. Len told me that the skiff mould was actually found in a field & it wasn't clear what it originally was. I have a funny feeling that it may have been a hull mould for a broads sailing boat as the shape is very similar in style.
In the end some 13 were built and enjoyed quite a good racing circuit centred on Harwich, the Stour, Orwell and Deben rivers plus the Walton Backwaters.
It would seem that each skiff was owned by a separate small club but the circuit was organised basically by the two founders, when one of them died his mate tried to pass the baton on but nobody would help, And so the race series died out and the fleet became fragmented.
Roy Alexander was one of the original Claydon rowers. He remembers the fabulous sensation of starting a race in a line of aggressively rowed skiffs:
Hi Chris,
My recollection is very sketchy, The Claytons were made by workers in the dock basin at Felixstowe who formed clubs and raised funds to have a former made and as more people became interested more skiffs were made off it. In their heyday there were more crews than boats.
The men raced first then the women, followed by the boys. Most of the men had very physical jobs: like Felixarc who were deep sea divers, tug boat crews, trawlermen. rugby players, coastguards, life boat men. I've been in a race with 15 starters and for the first half mile it was like a wall of water and foam, it was an amazing feeling all aches and pains gone the adrenalin running high.
Kind regards
Paul Norris rowed in a Felixarc Claydon that won the Great River Race back in the 1990s.
Hello, I was in the last Felixarc crew that raced and won the GRR; unfortunately the boat was sold soon after. Myself plus Dave Robinson (he was the one who broke the oar during a big ten) and our amazing cox are looking to buy a boat and bring the team back to the waters. Any knowledge of one for sale? 
Does anyone know of a Claydon that is unloved, unrowed and possibly available? Let me know and I will get you in contact. Alternatively, I am told that a mould still exists, so new Claydons could be produced.

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