Sidmouth Gig Club complete gruelling race on the Tamar

The Sidmouth Gig Club men’s crew at the Caradon Three Rivers race (left to right) Nick Thompson, Jam

The Sidmouth Gig Club men’s crew at the Caradon Three Rivers race (left to right) Nick Thompson, James Tarr, Jonny Clarke, Barry Morton, Dave Timms, Pete Blackmore, with Grant Clarke on his knees before the race had even started. Picture SDIMOUTH GIG CLUB - Credit: Archant

The 2019 gig racing season opened on the first Saturday of March with what is probably the toughest contest of the whole season, the six-mile Caradon Three Rivers race, writes Nick Thompson.

The Sidmouth Gig Club ladies crew before the Caradon Three Rivers race, in the shadow of Brunel’s Ro

The Sidmouth Gig Club ladies crew before the Caradon Three Rivers race, in the shadow of Brunel’s Royal Albert bridge. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Gig Racing Club took part with their newest boat, Little Picket, first with the ladies’ crew and then with the men’s crew.

The Caradon club is based at Saltash, and the race starts in the shadow of the two massive bridges across the river from Plymouth.

Crews first row upstream and loop round the Tamar and Tavy estuaries. They then head south, under the bridges, and loop around the mouth of River Lynher, and finally back upstream to the finish line by the bridges.

That’s a six-mile ‘figure of eight’ course, so inevitably tide and wind will play their part.

The Sidmouth Gig Club ladies crew at Caradon Three Rivers race. (Left to right) Mike Perrington (cox

The Sidmouth Gig Club ladies crew at Caradon Three Rivers race. (Left to right) Mike Perrington (cox), Heather Foster, Megan Rodgers, Linda Wheate, Rachel Horwood, Sarah Green and Louise Beeken. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB. - Credit: Archant


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The day was cool, with a strong breeze from the south-west. The middle leg southwards was against both wind and tide, and was a gruelling test of crews’ endurance.

A total of 79 boats took place, and the race was started in groups of 10 at two-minute intervals.

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The fastest boats can complete the course in under 50 minutes. As a smaller club, Sidmouth are always likely to be some way down the field, but both ladies and men’s crews finished among the bunch, and both put up their best ever times for the race.

The ladies’ crew comprised of Heather Foster, Rachel Horwood, Louise Beeken, Sarah Green, Megan Rodgers and Linda Wheate, with Mike Perrington as cox.

They finished 55th out of 79 with a time of 72 minutes.he men’s crew was Barry Morton, Grant Clarke, Jonny Clarke, James Tarr, Nick Thompson and Dave Timms, with Pete Blackmore as cox. They finished 70th out of 74, with a time of 65 minutes.

It was a hard slog in poor conditions, and both Sidmouth crews were glad when they’d finished.

The general view is that it’s the toughest race of the year, so at least all the other races will be better!

The club is looking forward to the 2019 season and welcomes new members.

To find out more, search online for ‘Sidmouth Gig Club’ or email sidmouthgigclub@gmail.com

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