In a Scotland village, skipping rocks is more than just a hobby. It’s a tourist attraction


A contestant tries his hand at the 2010 World Stone Skimming Championships in Scotland.


Victoria Hillman

When she's not running the Puffer Bar and Restaurant on Easdale Island in Scotland, Keren Cafferty helps organize the World Stone Skimming Championships. 

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When locals in the town of Ermatingen, Switzerland began looking to do the same thing, she says she wasn't too surprised.

"To be honest, we don't see it being that odd actually. There are quite a few events now taking place. Easdale kind of started up the first one and that's why we grabbed the World Stone Skimming Championship as its name. But it was all setup, to be honest, as a bit of a laugh. It was, one night, everybody sitting around in the pub trying to think up a fun jeezer to keep funds coming in to help our island develop, and so the World Stone Skimming Championship was born."

Since then, Cafferty says there have been a number of similar events established. "There's one in Wales, one in Holland, so it's great that it's spreading. And when we heard that they wanted to start one in Switzerland, at first we were a little bit daunted that they wanted to use the same name." 

But Scottish skimming event organizers have been emailing back and forth with the Swiss organizer,s who Cafferty says "have been great and realized that Scotland holds the name and they've agreed to call it a sort of qualifying round for the world championships."

Easdale is naturally well-suited to host the skimming championship. Cafferty explains that there's a limitless supply of stones at almost every turn: "We do have a fair amount of flat stones, yes. The island is mainly famous for its quarried slate tiles that were exported all over the world. What's been left from that has been washed about by the sea and has formed the perfect skimming stones."

Keep in mind. this is a stone skimming event, not a stone skipping competition. Caffferty says "we actually count on distance. I think in America it's classed as stone skipping whereas we call it stone skimming. So it's done on distance and if you hit the back wall of the quarry that it takes place in then it’s between 60-65 meters (200 feet) so if you hit the back wall you stand a fairly good chance at winning the event.”

If you‘re thinking you might like to compete in this year’s championships, remember there’s only one 10-passenger ferry that goes out to the island off the west coast of Scotland, and there are no cars anywhere on the island.  If you plan to practice your stone skimming, Cafferty says there's an important rule to keep in mind. "The stone has to bounce at least 3 times, and then it's distance from there on."  

The 2014 World Stone Skimming Championships will take place on Sept. 28 on Easdale Island, near Oban, in Argyll, Scotland.

Congrats to Geo Quiz texting game players today who guessed that Easdale Island was home to the World Stone Skimming Championships: Alyssa from Londonderry, New Hampshire, Kerri in Mariposa, California, and Von in Provo, Utah.