The 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships saw the largest Gig fleet in history descent on the Isles of Scilly for the 3 days of racing. Lively conditions met the Veteran category rowers as they rowed out to the start line on Friday night. A long line of spectator boats followed the racing between the islands of St Agnes and St Mary’s, giving a chance for fellow team mates to scream their support as our Exmouth Men’s vets crew rowed hard to the finish line with a number of other Gigs behind them as they crossed it.
Saturday morning brought with it a new wind direction and blue skies as the beach came to life with Gigs and rowers filling every spare bit of sand! Our Ladies crew hit the water first to join 150 other Gigs on the longest start line ever seen on the St Agnes to St Mary’s race. Our ladies crew handled the pressure and committed themselves with fantastic focus and determination. Their finish position in this race put them in Group L going into the next 3 rounds of competition.
The men were up next and their performance put them in Group K for the group races as we rowed against some of their regional rivals such as Sidmouth and Teignmouth, at times almost touching oars with both as we fought for clean water.
No time for hanging around, the Ladies were straight back out on the water to compete on the second race course that is laid between the Island of Tresco and St Mary’s quay giving the cheering crowd a great view of the action as the boats cross the line metres from the harbour wall. In this round, the Exmouth Ladies crew put in their best performance of the weekend gaining 7th place out of 12 Gigs in group L, with more experienced clubs behind them.
Sunday morning dished up more favourable sea conditions for round 3 and as the racing got underway, with the girls holding themselves in group L ready for the final with a solid performance leaving 5 gigs trailing them. The Exmouth Men had their best round yet in Group K, coming in 3rd behind Barnstaple and Hayle, pushing them all the way and keeping Exmouth in group K for the final.
The swell and wind were steadily increasing as the crews stroked out to the finals. Nerves steeled, the girls were well in the swing of things now and an excited crew rowed their first ever world championships final! The girls wrestled some choppy conditions to bag a 10th place out of 12 gigs, before celebrating their weekend’s hard work in the renowned ‘post race raft’ where all the Gig’s moor up in the harbour alongside each other, crack open the fizz and toast their epic weekend! Nestled between a Dutch and a West Cornwall crew the songs and the banter began as the winning Gigs crossed the line in group A, Caradon Gig Club taking the top honours in the Ladies category.
Last up were the Men to compete in the finals and repeat the same process as the Ladies. The Exmouth Men’s crew were competing in group K which was a group higher than last year. They rowed hard to finish 7th out of 15 Gigs. During a celebratory drink,
Exmouth Gig Club rowers toasted a great year at the event which gave all of our crews a real taste of competition and an appetite to make this a season to remember!