In April 2014, a trio of enthusiastic Kinghorn residents got together to discuss a proposal to set up a rowing club in the town.
And this weekend the culmination of more than two years of hard planning and elbow grease will see Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club officially launch its first boat, Yolande in a ceremony at Kinghorn beach.
A rise in the popularity of coastal rowing, a hobby dating back decades, spurred them on and in June at a public meeting consisting 25 people the Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club was born.
By March 2015 there were 30 paid members and more than 100 names added on the club contact list as “interested”. Fortnightly meetings, with an average attendance of 24, were held throughout 2014-2015 to steer the project, continue to fundraise and make decisions, and in November 2015 the burgeoning club bought its first skiff (boat) kit after embarking on some fundraising and a few successful grant applications.
What followed was 16 months of hard graft by groups of keen volunteers, led by Bob Connell, to complete the St Ayle’s skiff, a specially designed vessel ideally suited for coastal rowing.
One of the club’s biggest decisions to date was what to name the skiff. There were more suggested names than there were members to vote on, but it had to be female, it had to be relevant to Kinghorn, and in the end it had to be ‘Yolande’, Queen of Scotland and wife of the tragic Alexander III who lost his life in a storm on the cliffs above Kinghorn on his way back to be reunited with Yolande.
The success of the venture has been attributed to the whole village, surrounding areas, and Community Council, who have supported the club and helped with its many fundraising events.
The local primary school children and artists helped with the club logo and a mosaic installation at Quarrel Brae, while other Fife coastal rowing clubs have been supportive through practice rows and “Come and Try” days.
More recently KCRC has been grateful to Kinghorn Loch, allowing it to try a “soft launch” in April 2016 with a couple of practice rows to test the oars and make sure all was “ship shape”. It was just as well as a few adjustments proved necessary, and the rowers also managed to smash an oar!
Competing in and bringing rowing regattas to Kinghorn may be the ultimate aim of the club, but for many members it’s just about enjoying the experience and the sheer pleasure of rowing at sea with a supportive crew.
It is expected that the current KCRC membership (pre-launch around 30), is likely to significantly rise after the launch at the weekend, as more than 122 people asked to be kept up to date on the progress of the club and coastal rowing when the club was first set up.
“We’re really excited to be bringing this brilliant activity to the beautiful village of Kinghorn, now with its Royal Burgh status re-instated,” said Christine Feechan, chairman of the club.
“Many of the club members had never rowed before and most of us had never built a boat. But building on the individual skills we have, we’ve all come together to create a beautiful boat.
“Our club is a true community club and everyone is welcome. You don’t need to be sporty or fit or have any previous rowing or boating experience.
“This a chance for everyone in Kinghorn to have some fun and try something new.”
Membership is £50 a year, or the whole family can become involved, with a family membership at £35 per person (over 12 years of age) and other flexible and inclusive ways to join in.
Christine added: “Coastal rowing is a fantastic, fun and affordable. There are clubs all around Fife, Scotland and the UK.
“Our membership ranges from 20-70 years. There are four rowers and a cox in the skiff working together and supporting each other, and it’s a lot of fun.”
To find out more visit: firstname.lastname@example.org or go along to the launch event on Saturday at 2pm at Kinghorn beach and see what it’s all about.
Coastal Rowing is a craze that has spread like wildfire in recent years and interest in the sport has been jumping from one village to the next since the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association began encouraging villages to build their own boats.
Up until the 1960s there was considerable interest in rowing and boating among the mining communities in Central Fife, and a strong fisheries industry in the East Neuk. These communities, including Kinghorn, held their own regattas on a regular basis using their own local boat designs.
In 2009 the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Ansruther supported an initiative to restart “intercommunity rowing”.
The project developed quickly and interest spread along coastal communities of Scotland and in 2010, the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (S.C.R.A.) was formed.