George V Playing Field
By Phil Miles - 4th October 2013 6:45am
Whilst on holiday on the Isle of Seil, Argyll, Tarvin residents Phil & Kath Miles decided to visit the World Stone Skimming Championships, which were being held as usual on the nearby island of Easdale.
Easdale Island is the smallest permanently inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides. It was once the centre of a thriving Scottish slate mining industry, and one of the disused quarries forms a perfect arena for the World Stone Skimming Championships.
The World Stone Skimming Championships were started in 1983 by Albert Baker, and then lay fallow until they were resurrected in 1997 by the Eilean Eisdeal (The Easdale Island Community Development Group) as a fundraising event.
This year's event included a film crew from Japan, plus the BBC were filming an episode of Blue Peter!
What we did not appreciate was that anyone could enter these championships, so, always up for a challenge, I joined the queue to register as an entrant (team Chester), bought the teeshirt (nice in orange) with this year's logos, and emerged from the local community centre as what they describe as an "Old Tosser!" This is not the derogatory remark you may think it is, instead it refers to someone 60 and over.
The quarry used for this event has a course 70 metres in length and everyone uses pieces of slate less than 3" long provided by the organisers (although it was noticed that some were using pieces they collected themselves which were subject to scrutiny by the officials). You have 3 goes and each skim must skip 3 times to count and the total distance travelled is measured by judges perched on the nearby cliffs. If you hit the end wall at 70 metres you are called a "Wally".
There are 3 age groups junior (from pram to secondary school age), youth (11-18), and, senior including the Old Tossers, separate contests for men and women.
There were 350 entrants, including several past winners, internationals from USA, New Zealand, Australia, and a team from the Netherlands decked out in orange, blond wigs, and clogs. They are responsible for the European Championships which are held near Amsterdam on a canal.
As you will see from the website they have events before and after the Championships which raise an enormous amount of necessary funding for this island's community and shows what can be achieved with imagination and hard work.
Did I win? No, but I have the teeshirt, and had a wonderful day