Ivor’s On The Crest Of A Wave

Oct 11, 2022

Ivor Bolton is Coleraine’s newest World Champion and all at the ripe old age of 72.

As the oldest member of a four-man crew from Sketrick Coastal Rowing Club, Ivor and his teammates won the Men’s Over 280 final of the Skiffie Worlds in Kortgene, Netherlands in style back in June.

Skiffie racing is the revival of an old sport that has been a phenomenal success with community boats built and clubs established.

The Skiff World Championships, which take place every three years, brings together the very best crews from across the UK and Ireland, America, Canada and the Netherlands to battle it out in this challenging sport.

Having eased their way through the heats, Ivor and the Sketrick crew in their skiffie 'Knotty Buoy' won their final in style leading from start to finish in difficult conditions as delighted family and friends cheered from the banks.

Speaking to CQ magazine, Ivor who turned 73 years old in July, said: “It was hard going, the races are over 2km and our heats and final took place the same day but thankfully despite the poor weather we got a good start and we won by 20 seconds.

“I am delighted with the result because it makes all the hard work before we went to the Netherlands all worthwhile. We were training three and four times a week for the six weeks in the run up to the World Championships so we knew we were in good shape.”

This wasn’t the Coleraine man’s first shot at the World Championships having finished sixth when they were held in Strangford in 2016 and fourth in Stranraer in 2019.

Competing at this level required considerable commitment from Ivor. Not only did he have to maintain his personal fitness training, he also travelled each week to Strangford to meet up with his crew mates.

His dedication extended to the lengths that he bought his own four man boat - the White Witch to train in, putting in the hard yards at home as he recruited his friends and family to row with him up and down the River Bann.

Ivor was first introduced to coastal rowing a decade ago and despite having never rowed before he soon found his passion for the sport.

“I discovered I was quite good at it and so I joined a club,” he explained. “I had never rowed before but I discovered I was quite good at it.

“It is very much a minority sport but we are trying to spread the word and hopefully success like this will help encourage more people to take it up.

“The clubs and crews are mainly around County Down but I am very keen to see more people take it up here on the north coast.

“We have a group called Causeway Coastal Rowing and if anyone is interested in getting involved in the sport they should get in touch. This is a sport for all ages and abilities and we would love to welcome more people.”

Ivor’s love for the sport has spread to his 13-year old granddaughter Mia who is a member of Coleraine Grammar School’s rowing club.

Ivor continued: “Mia was in Kortgene spectating with the rest of the family when Team Killyleagh needed someone for the Under-17 race so Mia stepped in.

“They finished fifth which was a great achievement in itself and it was a brilliant experience for Mia who loved it.

“It was just a wonderful thing to be there and compete at the same World Championships as my granddaughter. It made it all that little bit more special,” added Ivor.

Emma Bolton, owner of Real Health in Stone Row Coleraine spoke of her pride at seeing both her dad and daughter compete at the World Championships.

“Obviously Dad has taken the supplements we sell over the years and that has paid dividends. He is the best advertisement for our business and for natural health because he has endless energy and what he achieves on a day-to-day basis is just amazing.

“We were bursting with pride to see him and Mia compete at the same Skiffie Worlds Championships.”

If you are interested in trying coastal rowing and would like more information visit: www.facebook.com/WhiteWitchCauseway

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