Richard Bayliss and the coracle world championships

In 2008 Richard Bayliss persuaded a number of Shrewsbury companies to paddle unstable craft across the River Severn.

This was a unique event providing a fun team building day out of the office. To date this event has raised £200,000 for Macmillan, with countless competitors paddling, capsizing and drifting to glory to uphold the ideals that Richard set in place 10 year ago.

Sadly Richard himself died of cancer in 2015, cruelly cut down by the disease he fought against, but his legacy lives on.

This will be the first year that a Coracle Event will be held in Gloucestershire and the organising committee are indebted for the support they have received from the Shrewsbury Coracle Committee.

At Macmillan we know how cancer can affect everything – health, relationships, and everyday life. Macmillan can be there for you during treatment, help you with work and money worries and we’ll always listen if you need to talk. #LifeWithCancer

Over £200,000 has been raised by the Coracle World Championships

Richard Bayliss

The history of the coracle

The history of the coracle - a traditional wicker coracle and oar

What is a ‘Coracle’?

The coracle is a small, roundish shaped, lightweight boat of the sort traditionally used in Wales but also in parts of Western and South West England, Ireland (particularly the River Boyne), and Scotland (particularly the River Spey); the word is also used of similar boats found in India, Vietnam, Iraq and Tibet. The word "coracle" comes from the Welsh ‘cwrwgl’, cognate with Irish and Scottish Gaelic currach, and is recorded in English as early as the sixteenth century. Other historical English spellings include corougle, corracle, curricle and coracle.


Oval in shape and very similar to half a walnut shell, the structure is made of a framework of split and interwoven willow rods, tied with willow bark. The structure has a keel-less, flat bottom to evenly spread the weight of the boat and its load across the structure and to reduce the required depth of water – often to only a few inches, making it ideal for use on rivers.


Designed for use in the swiftly flowing streams the coracle has been in use in the British Isles for centuries, having been noted by Julius Caesar in his invasion of Britain in the mid first century BC, and used in his campaigns in Spain. Remains interpreted as a possible coracle were found in an Early Bronze Age grave at Barns Farm near Dalgety Bay, and others have been described, from Corbridge and from near North Ferriby.

Its use and unique technique

The coracle is an effective fishing vessel because, when powered by a skilled person, they hardly disturb the water or the fish, and they can be easily manoeuvred with one arm, while the other arm tends to the net (two coracles to a net). The coracle is propelled by means of a broad-bladed paddle, which traditionally varies in design between different rivers. It is used in a sculling action, the blade describing a figure-of-eight pattern in the water. The paddle is used towards the front of the coracle, pulling the boat forward, with the paddler facing in the direction of travel.

For many years until 1979, Shrewsbury coracle maker Fred Davies achieved some notability amongst football fans; he would sit in his coracle during Shrewsbury Town FC home matches at Gay Meadow, and retrieve stray balls from the River Severn. Although Davies died in 1994, his legend is still associated with the club.


Coracles are rarely seen in the modern world, and if you do see one, chances are it is hanging somewhere as a ‘garden feature’. One aspect of the coracle that has never changed over time is people's love and bewilderment for them.


Email us:

Macmillan Cancer Support Fundraising: Catherine North 07977 056349

Corporate sponsorship: Steve Hawkins 07913 842493

Event location: Gloucester Rowing Club, David Hook Way, Gloucester GL2 2LE
Event date: Friday 12th July 2019 – First Race Starts: 16.00

Organised in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Also operating in Northern Ireland.