[T]his year’s All England Open Stone Skimming Championships are set to be played out at Fell Foot Park, at the foot of Windermere near Newby Bridge, on Saturday August 20, between 11am and 4pm, with a few tweaks at an organisational level.
Whilst South Cumbria Rivers Trust has organised these official English championships since 2008, it will this year be instigating a few changes, thanks to experience picked up at an event that was especially arranged, in May 2016, so that the very first Guinness World Record distance skimming record could be set.
South Cumbria Rivers Trust trustee, Julius Barratt, the Chief Steward of the All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, travelled to Wales for this Guinness World Record occasion, having been invited to be one of two chief officials.
The decision to stage a world record event was taken some months prior to the 12 competitors picking up their stones to skim. The 12 selected to take part in the setting of the Guinness World Record were chosen from amongst those who had won, or been placed in, a major skimming competition within the last five years, and who were capable of throwing a stone 60 metres.
With the need for accuracy and good stewardship being paramount, the event required officials with a lot of expertise in organising stone skimming championships. Julius, with many years under his belt, was an obvious choice.
Julius Barratt says: “It was a fabulous day out, beside an idyllic Welsh lake in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, all the competitors were very good, but we had no idea what sort of distance of skim would set the first ever Guinness World Record, as skimming can be a very unpredictable sport and anything can happen on the day.
“The 12 contestants were all achieving distances of around 70 metres and then up stepped the showman stone skimmer that is Scotsman, Dougie Isaacs. With his second batch of stones, Dougie suddenly skimmed his stone an amazing 107 metres, blowing all other competitors out of the water. The Guinness World Record team are now going through the process of making it the official world record and Dougie should get that verification in September.
“It was an honour to be invited to officiate and be a part of stone skimming history, on a world scale.”
Julius spotted various different ways of doing things that could be implemented at the All England Open Stone Skimming Championships on August 20, although they may not be that obvious to anyone who has turned up and enjoyed the have-a-go fun of stone skimming.
Once again, competitors will need to have their stone skip on the water a minimum of three times, staying within the designated ‘lane’, if they are to record a distance. They will win if the distance they then achieve is longer than that recorded by any other competitor.
There will again be different competitions for men, women, under 11s and 11-16-year-olds, as well as a team event. Entry costs £3 for an adult and £1 for a child. Teams of four can enter for £10.
Julius Barratt says: “We want lots of individuals, groups and families to come along and have fun, as the championships are organised as a fundraiser for South Cumbria Rivers Trust, to help us carry out vital conservation work in the South Lakes. Being remarkably bad at stone skimming is as much fun as being incredibly good at it and it’s something anyone can attempt. We will have some big names in the men’s category, including past champions, but we’ve had major surprises in the past, when unknowns have come along and upset the apple cart. In the women’s, children’s and team categories, it really is anybody’s title to win.”
National Trust rangers will be arranging a variety of stone-themed, fun activities at Fell Foot Park, whilst there will also be a beer tent, BBQ and craft stalls. Fell Foot is a lovely place to explore, as well as picnic, so a great day out can be had.
Turn up on August 20, get hooked by stone skimming and you too could one day be a Guinness World Record holder.
To follow news of what’s happening with the championships, please go to the Twitter account @scriverstrust