017 could become the year of the female stone skimmer, according to the organisers of the forthcoming All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, taking place at Fell Foot Park on Windermere on Saturday August 19 – but only if women pick up on the Sport England ‘This Girl Can’ message.
South Cumbria Rivers Trust (SCRT), which organises the championships to raise funds for vital conservation work in the South Lakes, is expecting a rising star on the stone skimming scene – Charlotte Greenway – to travel to the All England Championships, acting as an inspiration to other women.
Charlotte recently took part in stone skimming championships at Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire and threw a distance never recorded by a woman on Windermere – an impressive 45 metres. While conditions on Windermere are more challenging, given the size of the lake and the Lake District climate, women throwers have typically achieved distances of around 28-32 metres, often being out-skipped by competitors in the 11-16-year-old category.
SCRT believes a record distance could be achieved by a woman competitor this year, if they follow Charlotte’s lead. Those watching her technique this year could also potentially be inspired to start practising and enter the championships next year, having honed their skills.
“During the last nine years, we have rarely seen women stone skimmers come to the fore and shine,” says SCRT Trustee, Julius Barratt. “We have long wanted to find ways to encourage more women to have a throw, but gentle encouragement and even direct appeals on the megaphone have seen relatively few stepping up to the stone skimming mark.
“We feel that 2017 could be a watershed, as the best way for women to be inspired is to watch someone else who’s entered the world of skimming and is now having fun heading around the circuit. We need to spread the ‘This Girl Can’ message in this sport, just as much as in others, and we hope that role models like Charlotte Greenway can help us to do that.”
The All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, now taking place in what is a newly-crowned World Heritage site and with a new sponsor, the brand new energy smoothie, Kendalife, are also expecting to welcome Heather Ashton, organiser of the Bishop’s Castle event and another good skimmer.
The All England Open Stone Skimming Championships take place between 11am and 4pm and entry is open to all. Entry fees of £3 for an adult and £1 for a child apply and this gives the competitor the opportunity to throw three stones. Multiple entries are allowed and the winners in each category (Men’s, Women’s, 10 and under, and 11-16s) are those who keep their stone in the lane marked out on the water, make it skip a minimum of three times and then record the longest distance. More details are at www.scrt.co.uk