Skiff rowers out to cut stroke rate

Warrnambool St Ayles Skiff Community Rowing Club members Korey Bawden, 16, Larry Abrahams and Greg Bawden with a skiff taking shape in Mr Abraham’s shed.
140815LP46 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Warrnambool St Ayles Skiff Community Rowing Club members Korey Bawden, 16, Larry Abrahams and Greg Bawden with a skiff taking shape in Mr Abraham’s shed. 140815LP46 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

A NEW sporting group hopes to reduce the region’s alarming stroke rate by encouraging more people to learn the art of stroking a rowing boat.

The Warrnambool St Ayles Skiff Rowing Club has launched a crowdfunding campaign through the Pozible website hoping to raise $10,000 for a boat, a trailer and equipment as the first step towards establishing a regular competition.

It comes as an offshoot of the city’s annual whaleboat races, when some competitors associated with the base hospital stroke unit saw opportunity in the lighter and cheaper skiffs which have become popular in Tasmania and South Australia and internationally.

“We are interested in getting more people involved in rowing — especially the 40-plus age group which is the at-risk sector for strokes,” club secretary Patrick Groot said.

“Recent figures from the National Stroke Foundation show the Wannon electorate is a hotspot for stroke incidence and prevalence.

“We are promoting activity such as rowing as a way of reducing stroke risk, as a fun activity and a way of engaging people in the community.

“Our group also sees a bright future in skiff building and rowing with major economic and tourism benefits for Warrnambool and region.

“We’re not just a bunch of people interested in having a good time — we want to contribute to something worthwhile.”

It is hoped enough money can be raised to buy the first skiff kit in the next six months, build it at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village boatshed and race in next year’s Hobart wooden boat festival.

Further money would be raised for a second skiff  and a long-term goal is to compete in world  titles in Scotland. Mr Groot can be contacted on warrnamboolstaylessskiffclub@gmail.com or 0400 359 681.

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