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