[O]rganisers of this year’s All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, which takes place at Fell Foot Park, on Windermere, on Saturday (August 20) are cock-a-hoop at the news that the star of May’s Guinness World Record stone skimming record event, ‘Dougie’ Isaacs, will be competing in the championships for the first time.
Dougie emerged the victor in the first ever Guinness World Record distance-based stone skim attempt in May, notching up a distance of 107.4 metres, when competing against 11 other competitors who had all won, or been placed in, a major skimming competition in the last five years and who were capable of skimming a stone at least 60 metres. His distance is going through the ratification process and, if approved by the Guinness World Record authorities, will become an official ‘record’.
Despite having won various top stone skimming honours, he has never competed on Windermere before and will now go head to head with several-time All England Stone Skimming Champion, Ron Long, who did not compete in the Guinness World Record event.
Ron is not the reigning champion, however, as that honour went to Kevin Waltham from Newcastle last year. Kevin also skimmed to the title in 2013, so has notched up two victories over Ron so far. Kevin is expected to be defending his title this year and may conquer the almighty ‘Dougie’ Isaacs, if knowledge of Windermere waters comes into play.
It’s all set up for a mouth-watering contest in the men’s category, though stone skimmers can be very erratic and literally anyone can win, as entry is open to all comers. Anyone wishing to chance their arm just has to turn up, pay the adult fee of £3, and skim three stones. They can have as many attempts as they wish, which is just as well, as stone skimming is truly addictive!
Stones can only register a distance if they skip at least three times and stay in the lane laid out on the water. The money raised goes to the organiser, South Cumbria Rivers Trust, for vital conservation work in the South Lakes.
This year, SCRT has also been supported by sponsors the Bowness Bay Brewing Company and the Lakeside Hotel. The Bowness Bay Brewing Company will be bringing its marquee to the event and serving up its range of craft beers that are all named after something connected with Windermere.
As well as the men’s competition on Saturday, there are separate categories for women, under 11s, 11-16 year olds and teams. Children can enter for £1 and teams for £10.
The winning distance by Emily Ostridge, the conqueror of the women’s contest in 2015, was 46 metres, whilst the 11-16s category winner, Noah Johnson skimmed a distance of 49 metres. The under-11s winner, Isabelle Rogers, skimmed 39 metres.
The kudos of winning is the main motivation for entering, although prizes are also available. There’s also a lot of fun to be had for competitors and spectators, with outdoor activities laid on at Fell Foot Park by National Trust Rangers, encouraging visitors to explore some of the ’50 Things to Do before You’re 11 and ¾’. A barbecue and craft stalls will also be around the skimming area.
Julius Barratt, an SCRT Trustee, says: “The skimming action starts at 11am and ends at 4pm, giving everyone plenty of opportunity to get their name into the official sporting record books. Being able to say that they took on someone who, if all is ratified, could become a Guinness World Record holder would also be a pretty cool thing to drop into the conversation back at work on Monday, so we want to see a lot of have-a-go heroes turning up.
“We’d also like more women and children to enter and think that offices around Cumbria should be pulling a team together for the team event. You have to be in it, to win it!”
Fell Foot Park is a National Trust site at the bottom of Windermere, close to Newby Bridge. The park is a perfect place for a picnic, if the weather is good, has a café and has rowing boats for hire, for those wishing to make a day of it.
For more news of the All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, head to @scriverstrust on Twitter.