Newhaven finds its stroke again as racing boat takes to the waves

The first boat to be launched at Newhaven Harbour for 82 years will take to the waves early on Sunday morning - with the help of a man who watched the launch of the last.

Ninety-year-old George Hackland was a schoolboy when he saw the fishing boat Reliance launched. On Sunday he will be guest of honour as the Newhaven Coastal Rowing Club unveils the skiff it has spent almost a year building.

The group is one of more than 30 in Scotland helping revitalise the sport of coastal rowing, in a project led by the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

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The museum has commissioned boat-making kits based on the design of a St Ayles Skiff in its collection, with the kits sold to community groups.

The skiffs were used for fishing, but crews would race them for sport - an activity being revived with regattas around the country each summer.

Organiser Gert Riemersma said watching the launch of the skiff Icebreaker in Portobello set him on his present course.

He said: "I came away very inspired about building a boat, but it's community based and I live in Newhaven. I didn't feel my loyalty lay with Portobello."

Once he had recruited volunteers, they were given a workshop at Granton Square by Waterfront Edinburgh.

Children at Victoria Primary School held a competition to name the boat, with the winner to be announced on Friday.

Mr Riemersma added: "It looks fantastic. She went in the water for a secret trial - and she's great."

Mr Hackland recalled being let out of Victoria Primary as an eight-year-old to see the launch of Reliance in 1928.

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He said: "I remember getting out of school at lunchtime - when the tide was suitable for a launch - and they pulled the boat on a cradle through the village. They launched the boat with a big box of sweets scattered everywhere - it was lovely."

Mr Hackland, a retired marine engineer who served on the Atlantic Convoys during the Second World War, added: "I've been asked to name it, it's quite an honour."

The boat will be launched at 9.30am with a splash of whisky, then teams will take turns to row her around the harbour.

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