Exmouth Gig Rowing Club founder, Ben Atkinson, decided to start the club after recognising the potential for the sport on the Exe Estuary, where Pilot Gigs were yet to be introduced to the town.

Ben first tried Gig Rowing at Clevedon Gig Club on the Bristol Channel, before moving back to his home town of Exmouth and finding something was missing – Pilot Gig Rowing!

“Sidmouth Gig Racing Club got me rowing again and a brilliant year was had in 2013, with myself and my partner Carrie both entering Regattas with the Sidmouth Crew. I wanted to bring that great atmosphere and enjoyment we got from those sessions back to Exmouth.” 

Ben Atikinson, Founder


The club secured funding from Sport England’s small grants scheme, Norman Family Charitable Trust, Co-Op Community Fund, Southwest Water and Amory’s Trust; something which club founder Ben Atkinson is hugely grateful for.

“This allowed us to complete the purchase of our first boat, oars, trailer and safety equipment. Our supporters have recognised the potential for the club to deliver an accessible, affordable sport to the community amongst the beautiful setting of the Exe Estuary.”

Our first boat ‘Rodney Bey’ was built in Devoran, Cornwall in 1995 by the late Ralph Bird. Ralph Bird was attributed almost solely to bringing the sport of Pilot Gig Rowing back to life in the 80’s. He inspired a generation of traditional boat builders in the region to continue crafting these beautiful boats from Narrow Leaf Elm as the sport took off and grew in popularity.

Ralph built the Gig for Helford River Gig Club where she was named ‘Helford’. In 2013 Exmouth purchased ‘Helford’ and re-launched her as ‘Rodney Bey’ at a ceremony in March 2014.

We hold regular rowing sessions throughout the year, both at the weekend and evenings (light permitting!).If you are interested in having a go please contact us or head to the Beginner/Intro Sessions page.