New boat joy for Sidmouth Gig Club

Group sets sights on world domination

SIDMOUTH Gig Club can take on the world next year after fundraising success saw the group place an order for a new wooden boat.

Club members celebrated the move as their current vessel Alma turned one recently.

An under-construction wooden gig will enable the group to enter competitions and regattas - and, ultimately, the world championships in the Isles of Scilly.

A fundraising campaign proved successful, thanks to many local business’ and organisations’ kind support, said Sidmouth Gig Club’s Val Huntington.

Pledges, a �10,000 grant from Sport England and a generous match funded offer from the Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund meant the club could place an order for a wooden gig with Maurice Hunkin - a well-known Cornish boat builder.

“A few committee members went down to Fowey to see the boat yard, choose the timbers that will be used for the gig construction and learn a bit about gig building,” said Val.

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“As launching at home will always be on pebbles, it was decided to opt for a slightly harder timber for the keel, but to keep the boat light, to enable easier lifting up the beach. Regular visits will take place down to the yard to see building in progress.”

She added the boat should be completed in late winter and final details - such as oars, seats and a trailer to store it on - will then be ordered ready for a spring launch for next season’s rowing.

More than 40 gig club members celebrated Alma’s first birthday recently.

Perfect sea conditions and sunshine saw rowers carry out demonstrations on the water and encourage members of the public to have a go.

The day ended with a toast to Alma, which will be kept as a training boat, and the cutting of a celebration birthday cake baked by Lynn Bagwell.

The next gig club fundraising event is an evening cruise up the River Exe tomorrow (Saturday, September 24) for which details and tickets are available from Winchester’s in High Street or Bagwell’s Fish Shop on the Ham.