The Skiff Club was founded in 1895 and was the first club devoted to skiff racing. There are now seven clubs (six on the Thames, one in Cambridge) who preserve the tradition of skiff racing. Regattas are held, principally in July, August and September, with racing for all levels depending on experience, previous racing success and age.
For its first 77 years The Skiff Club was based at Turk’s boathouse at Kingston (initially sharing with the Royal Canoe Club) and, after a number of years without a permanent home, shared with the RCC in the purchase of the current premises in 1994.
Modern racing skiffs are evolved from working and leisure boats of the 19th century, when skiffing and boating on the Thames became increasingly popuar. The design of racing skiffs is encoded in the regulations of the Skiff Racing Association, but is similar to the many leisure and camping skiffs found up and down the river today.
As well as racing, skiffs offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy exercise in congenial surroundings, become fitter and take part in a variety of expeditions, which are occasionally organised, to other waters. Basic skills are more easily learnt than in “best” boats and progression to sufficient competence to be fairly independent can be rapid. Find out more about our fleet of skiffs here.
continuing the tradition
The Skiff Club was founded in 1895 and was the first club devoted to skiff racing. There are now seven clubs (six on the Thames, one in Cambridge) who preserve the tradition of skiff racing.
Regattas featuring races of all kinds of river craft were held up and down the river. Boats included in-board rigged skiffs, cutters, gigs, wherries, punts, canoes and outrigger sculling and rowing boats which evolved into the racing shells and fine boats of today. The Thames skiffs were based on river ‘taxis’ used by watermen on the river and taken up and developed as slim, fast leisure craft.
‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome is published as skiffing as a form of excersise and a way of touring on the Thames become enormously popular.
The new Albany Club opens at Kingston-on-Thames on the site of a former Bank Grove mansion. Described as a ‘luxurious resort’ it’s extensive grounds include a 420 foot river frontage with landing stage, raquet and tennis courts and stabling for 40 horses. The club committee includes many well known figures and members also had use of facilites at Henley and other fetes around the country.
The Teddington Reach Regatta is founded, based at the Albany Club on the Kingston bank of the river. In these early days boats varied in specification, some being privately owned, built for leisure or speed while others were working ‘taxi’ boats or rented, often from Turks or other operators in the area. From the start Skiff racing included mixed sex crews unlike ‘best boat’ rowing events. Later the event would become the Skiff Championships and relocated to Remenham on the Henley reach.
A year later Turks build the Albany boat house, early home to the Royal Canoe Club.
The Skiff Club is formed, based at the Albany Club. This was the first club dedicated to racing and the recreational use of Thames skiffs.
The Skiff Club order the first ever set of matched double skiffs for racing from R. J. Turk — a set of boats that are still in use today! The Skiff Club move into The Albany Boat House when Royal Canoe Club relocate to Trowlock Island.
Kingston Rowing Club move to the Albany Boat House, joining Skiff Club.
The Skiff Club win the Ormiston trophy, winning the most races of any club.
Skiff Club leave Albany Boat House and begin their nomadic period sharing accommodation with Twickenham Rowing Club at Eel Pie Island until 1988.
The Skiff Club Gentlemen’s Quad post the fastest time in the first Head of the River Quadruple Sculls event.
Three Skiff Club crews complete the first Thames Meander from Ha’penny Bridge in Lechlade to Teddington in 3 days in coxless double skiffs with stops at Wallingford RC and Maidenhead RC where they camped on the clubhouse floor. Graeme Mulcahy and Chris French, Chris Wooderson and Tim Bramfitt, and Rodney Hedont and Alan Manning skulled the whole distance without changes and the original Meander Club was formed.
Skiff Club win the Ormiston trophy.
Skiff Club win the Ormiston trophy.
The Skiff Club and Wraysbury Skiff & Punting Club are joint winners of the Ormiston trophy.
The club moves to Molesey Boat Club and then Thames Tradesmen Rowing Club at Barnes with boats often stored outside at the Albany Boat House
The Skiff Club join with The Royal Canoe Club to purchase BP’s leisure facilites on the mainland site at Trowlock island.
Three new double skiffs built by M Edwards of Richmond are delivered to mark the club’s centenary: Sam Lewis, Dick Offer and Jack Ormiston
Jock Wishart (Skiff Club) with Duncan Nicoll compete in the Trans Atlantic Rowing Race, time is 63 days 8 minutes.
3 new ‘millenium’ doubles are delivered from Stanley & Thomas: Gordon Dear, David Gramolt and Graeme Mulcahy
Skiff Club crews are invited to visit Rowing Club Argentino on the Tigre river in Buenos Aires for some Christmas skiffing, Argentina style. Unfortunately, travel disruption meant only three skiffers made it – Dave Wright, Fran Kenden and Liane.
3 new singles deliverd from Stanley & Thomas: Liz Walsh, Lizzie Chapman and Elaine Steckler
Roger Haines arrives in Antigua on 6 April after rowing across the Atlantic singles-handed in terrible conditions. He started in Gomera, Canary Islands on 4 January.
Thames Meander over May Bank holiday weekend with overnight stop at Monkey Island.
Skiff Club member, John Pritchard launches the Mississippi Million expedition to raise funds for Right to Play, a charity bringing sports and recreation to children in the third world. The event remains a unique achievement, being the only time Thames Skiffs have rowed the whole length of the Mississippi River. With help from Graeme Mulcahy and other club members he organised crews and commissioned 2 new purpose built doubles specially for the event: Doreen and Richmond.
The London Loop meander starting at the clubhouse skulling downstream to Brentford then on the canals, the Grand Union, the Regent’s and the River Lee Navigation round north London returning to the Thames below Tower Bridge for the row back home.
A late May meander starting in Bristol docks with a 4-day group skulling on the Avon and Kennet Canal up to the Clifton flight of locks before looping back to finish downstream of Bath. Meanwhile the ‘Coast to Coast’ expedition went on via the Kennet and the Thames the PLA stone below Teddington lock over 10 days.’
The Great Ouze meander over 4 days from Bedford to Cambridge via Ely, 26 members join in 6 double skiffs and 2 kayaks.