The Sixareen and her Racing Descendants

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The high-tec ply and epoxy double ended boats which can be seen racing at regattas around Shetland in the summer months may seem far removed from the Viking longships which they claim as their ancestors. But these are indeed direct descendants of the sixareen – the six oared open clinker built boats in which Shetlanders toiled to make a living from the offshore line fishing. Charles Sandison outlines the development of the Shetland boat from Viking times, through the import of Norwegian built boats and the development of local variations such as the beautiful and well adapted Ness Yoal, to the sixareen and her racing descendants. Although originally published in 1954 this is the only publication to deal with the topic in any depth and explains, in part, why the islands’ sailing fraternity holds the annual inter-club competitions in such esteem. The opening in 1994 of the Unst Boat Haven in Haroldswick, in the north isles of Shetland, provided a permanent home for a number of historic Shetland boats and the opportunity to view relics from the days of the sixareen. All royalties from this publication will be paid to the Unst Boat Haven to help preserve these historic vessels for future generations.