Tough rowing conditions greeted members of Exmouth Gig Club who travelled to the Isles of Scilly last weekend to compete in their first Gig Rowing World Championships.
23 rowers from the club competed over 3days of the contest which is in its 26th year, with a record breaking fleet of 151 boats taking part. For some of the Exmouth crew members, this competition was their first taste of competitive racing, after training on the Exe Estuary over most of the winter.
A solid swell and strong winds made conditions tricky for all crews on Friday evening as the racing got underway with the Veterans crews competing first. Racing continued with the main event kicking off in brighter conditions on Saturday as the whole fleet of 151 Gigs lined up for the spectacle that is the St Agnes race.
Exmouth Ladies put their training to good use and at the last 100yards of the race they beat 2 more experienced clubs to the finish line, Circe and Slippen. Having rowed together as a crew only a handful of times this represents a great achievement. It was then the turn of the Men’s crew next on the same course. In a sprint finish saw the Exmouth Crew in their Gig Rodney Bey come in ahead of Lady Freeda of Barnstaple, Fly rowed by Appledore, and Nornour rowed by Help the Hero’s crew. Equally as important as a strong crew is a tactical coxswain and the Exmouth crew were put in a strong start position on the hectic start line by Coxswain Carrie Farquharson.
The Gig rowing community are well known for helping each other out despite intense rivalries on the water. One of the Irish rower’s was unfortunately rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack, when asked, Exmouth rowers gladly stepped in to fill 2 positions in their boat; the Irish crew vowing to carry on.
The races during rounds 2, 3 and the final consist of a shorter straight line course and a strong head wind made it hard work for the Exmouth Ladies crew. The men faired better and won their round 2 race by a convincing margin.
The Sunday afternoon finals were hotly contested across all the groups, not least the Ladies Final which saw a thrilling battle between Newquay and St Mary’s, eventually resulting in Newquay taking the title after St Mary’s were disqualified for knocking the rudder from the Newquay Gig!
Exmouth Men’s crew put in a strong performance to win their group final beating Boscastle and Appledore gigs by 5 Boat lengths, winning them the “Group L winners” trophy.
Overall men’s winners were Falmouth who have dominated the championships for the last 4years.
Chairman of Exmouth Gig Club, Ben Atkinson enjoyed seeing their club take part on this event for the first time. “It was fantastic seeing our crews immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere this event creates and I am proud of each and every one of them for getting stuck in and rowing in some of the toughest conditions in this event for over a decade. We also had great supporters cheering us on, one supporter even sailing over from Exmouth in his yacht Tai Chi!”
Exmouth Gig club already looking forward to attending the event again next year.