Former Stranraer ferry port reborn as an international watersports venue

Skiffie Worlds:'pic credit: 'Saskia Coulson / CT Productions'
Skiffie Worlds:'pic credit: 'Saskia Coulson / CT Productions'
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More than 700 crews from around the world have descended on a former ferry port for an international watersports event which was brought to Scotland by boat-building enthusiasts.

Stranraer is playing host to rowers from 57 different clubs around the world in the sheltered waters of Loch Ryan this week.

Competitors from the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are taking part in the “SkiffieWorlds” contest, which is said to be the biggest ever event brought to the south-west coastal town.

Dedicated to the St Ayles Skiff class of rowing boat, it is said to be one of the world’s fastest growing watersports.

Stanraer, which was previously Scotland’s main ferry port linked with Belfast, is trying to reinvent itself a leisure and marine tourism destination in recent years.

Wendi Cuffe, project manager of SkiffieWorlds 2019 and a member of Stranraer Watersports Association, which won a bid to bring the championship to the area, said it dated back to the ferry services being relocated away from the town.

She added: “For too long Stranraer has been talked down and Loch Ryan hasn’t shown its full potential, in part because it was a ferry port.

“Now that the ferries have gone we have the opportunity to unlock that incredible potential.

“Loch Ryan is a perfect stage for water sports.

“It’s a natural amphitheatre with calm, sheltered water, amazing onshore facilities, a stunning park and its close proximity to the town and its facilities makes it really pretty perfect for competitive water sports events and for water based leisure activities.

“Hosting SkiffieWorlds 2019 is a team effort involving many individuals and community groups, all working together to help Stranraer shine.

“Loch Ryan is the jewel in the crown of Stranraer and there’s a real opportunity to build on SkiffieWorlds to position Stranraer and Loch Ryan as an internationally renowned water sports destination. This is only the start.”

Topher Dawson, treasurer of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, said: “Stranraer is a perfect combination of sheltered water, lovely beach and sea front, and all the accommodation and cafes, bars and local services that you could possibly want.”

Scottish tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland has a renowned reputation both as a fantastic destination for adventure tourism and as a host for major sporting events, and that is evidenced this week in Stranraer.

“It is little wonder that so many people want to come here to watch world championship rowing in a stunning setting, enjoying competitive sport whilst boosting local businesses and the wider economy.”