Orcuan is the flagship of GalGael, the social enterprise and charity that is organising the Clydebuilt Festival. She is a replica of a Birlinn, a Scottish Galley which would have provided effective transport throughout the west coast of Scotland up until around 400 years ago. She is 30 feet long, and powered by eight rowers using one oar each. Orcuan is used for giving local cummunities sail training experience.
Viking Longship “Freydis”
A replica 40 feet long Viking Longship, built by volunteers in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. She is based on the ship of Magnus Barfot. To put a halt to their wars, the Lords of the Isles and Magnus Barfot agreed that Magnus Barfot could claim for his Kingdom all land that he could circumnavigate while at the helm of his longship. With Magnus Barfot at the helm his men pulled the longship over the isthmus between West Loch Tarbert and East Loch Tarbert and in this way he was able to claim Kintyre for his Kingdom in 1093. In Castle to Crane she will have as many oars as she has voluteers to pull on them. Freydis can also be sailed, and has crossed long distances to take part in viking festivals.
St Ayles Skiff
The St. Ayles Skiff was, designed by renowned small boat designer Iain Oughtred, inspired by the traditional Fair Isle skiff. The boat’s hull and frames are built using clinker plywood and it measures 22’ with a beam of 5’ 8”. The four rowers use one oar each. The boat design was commissioned by The Scottish Fisheries Museum and was adopted by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association as its main racing class. Most of these boats are home built, by the communities that use them. The design has spread very quickly, firstly all round the Scottish Coast, and then abroad to (so far) Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, United States, Canada, France, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland. There are now over 200 St Ayles skiffs built, and it is the most numerous class in Castle to Crane.
Shetland yoals are lightly built in traditional clinker methods using larch. The are 23 feet in length and double ended with 6 planks. The are rowed by six rowers, with one oar each. The rowers sit “double banked”, that is two to each thwart.
Yoal rowing races have been held in Shetland for a long time, with the Inter-club trophies for men and women being competed for since the 1950’s. During the 1990’s rowing gained more popularity, with many communities within Shetland, from Unst to Sumburgh, raising money to purchase their own yoals. This resulted in a new body, the Shetland Yoal Rowing Association (SYRA), being formed to agree building and racing rules.
Cornish Pilot Gig
The lines of the Cornish Pilot Gig evolved over time driven by the requirements of fast, seaworthy, sturdy vessels for pilotage. The Cornish Pilot Gigs racing today are all built to a specification inspired by ‘Treffry’, built in 1838 by the Peters family of Polvarth, St Mawes, Cornwall. They are 32 feet long, and are built of timber using traditional methods. Each is powered by six rowers with one oar each, coordinated and steered by a coxswain.
The Cornish Pilot Gig Association now has 69 member clubs and a register of over 190 Cornish Pilot Gigs. Most gigs are in the South West of England, but the class has spread from there with Pilot Gigs in use in several countries, including Netherlands, USA, Bermuda and Singapore.
The Celtic Longboat is powered by four rowers, using one oar each, skippered by a cox, and has room for a passenger. The boat is 24 feet long. The developed from Pembrokeshire Longboats which were built, with a variety of finishes in the 1970s and 1980s.
Celtic Longboats are mainly used in and around Wales' west coast, under the rules of Welsh Sea Rowing. The Celtic Longboat is a strict one-design, manufactured by “Dale Sailing” of Milford Haven. The hull is GRP, the oars are carbon fibre and the rudder aluminium. A Celtic Longboat weighs about 160kgs. Many carry advertising on the side of the hull, which will make them stand out from the other four oared boats in the fleet.
Portobello Class Jollyboat
Sprite is a Portobello Class 3 Jollyboat owned by Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club. It was donated to Royal West along with two more by Portobello Watersports Club when they closed in the late 1980’s. Royal West were still racing this style of boat and hosting the annual Scottish Jollyboat Championships, so it was appropriate that they take ownership to preserve them. Jollyboats were the last form of fixed seat rowing boats used for competition on the River Clyde before clubs moved to finer sliding seat boats.
Sprite is of clinker construction and therefore heavier than the carvel construction Class 1 Jollyboats, examples of which can be seen on display in the Riverside Museum in Glasgow and at the Maritime Museum in Irvine. Sprite was probably built in the 1930’s, so will be amongst the oldest boats competing.
The crew racing Sprite in the Castle to Crane have never competed together before, but have all competed in Royal West Jollyboat crews previously, winning Scottish Championships at Junior, Open and Women’s categories. Some have even won international Jollyboat events at the Celtic Watersports Festival in Largs in 1999. They know each other quite well, as they are three brothers and one of their wives.