Fame’s just a stone’s throw away for Eas­dale skim­mers

The Oban Times - - News - DAVID McPHEE lglen@oban­times.co.uk

EAS­DALE is home to around just 60 res­i­dents but, once a year, hun­dreds of peo­ple from across the globe flock to the Ar­gyll­shire is­land to take part in the an­nual World Stone Skim­ming cham­pi­onships.

This year’s cham­pi­onships will take place on Sun­day, Septem­ber 27, and will at­tract com­peti­tors from far and near.

In the past, peo­ple have trav­elled from Bel­gium, Hol­land, Scan­di­navia, North Amer­ica and even China to take part in one of the quirki­est sport­ing con­tests held any­where in the world.

The over­seas con­tin­gent will com­pete for hon­ours with a crop of home­grown tal­ent, who have per­fected the art of mak­ing waves when it comes to skim­ming the still wa­ters of the Eas­dale quarry. Last year saw a record turn- out of com­peti­tors in ev­ery field with 317 en­trants.

The event has been cov­ered by a Ja­panese film crew and fea­tured on the pop­u­lar BBC chil­dren’s pro­gramme, Blue Peter.

The over­all win­ner was Dougie Is­sacs from Blair­gowrie in Perthshire, who has won the con­test six times since its res­ur­rec­tion 11 years ago.

How­ever, the com­pe­ti­tion was fierce as four throw­ers hit the back wall of the quarry, which is 63 me­tres away, ty­ing for first place. The four com­peted in a three-stone ‘shoot- out’ and Dougie didn’t miss a beat, hit­ting the back wall three times to win the event.

For a throw to qual­ify, the nat­u­rally formed Eas­dale slate stone must bounce no less than three times and stay within the des­ig­nated lane marked by buoys. Skims are judged on the dis­tance thrown, rather than the num­ber of bounces. The World Stone Skim­ming cup is pre­sented to the over-all win­ner, the Sea-fari salver for the best women’s skim and The Puffer tro­phy for the win­ning team.

Best ju­nior skim and run­ners-up from each cat­e­gory are awarded slate medals.

‘The Ber­tie’, named af­ter the event’s founder Al­bert Baker, is pre­sented to the Eas­dale is­lan­der who skims the far­thest.

In 2009, a new award was launched for con­tes­tants aged over 60 who could throw the long­est skim.

The week­end kicks off the night be­fore with a dance in Eas­dale is­land com­mu­nity hall, where there will be a li­censed bar and live mu­sic.

The event’s front man, Don­ald ‘Melon’ Melville, who has been in­volved since the event was restarted in 1997, said that it was a vi­tal fundraiser and source of in­come for Eilein Eis­deal, a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion run by res­i­dents and friends of the is­land.

He added: ‘It’s great fun for all the fam­ily, it’s hard work, but great fun. It’s great to be able to try and raise as much money as we can. But we are still dis­ap­pointed about the £1,000 we have to pay for the quarry.’

Con­veyanc­ing Di­rect So­lic­i­tors of Glas­gow do­nated the £1,000 this year to cover the cost of the event.

The or­gan­is­ers are still look­ing for more vol­un­teers to help in any way they can to en­sure the event runs as smoothly as pos­si­ble. For more in­for­ma­tion or to get in­volved, visit www. stoneskim­ming.com

MAK­ING A SPLASH: Hun­dreds gather to take part or just soak in the at­mos­phere at the Eas­dale event last year

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