Sidmouth Gig Club launches new boat named after town landmark

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 February 2018

The launch of Sidmouth Gig Club's new boat, Little Picket

The launch of Sidmouth Gig Club's new boat, Little Picket

Archant

The sun came out on Saturday for Sidmouth Gig Club's blessing and naming ceremony of their new Cornish pilot boat, Little Picket.

The launch of Sidmouth Gig Club's new boat, Little PicketThe launch of Sidmouth Gig Club's new boat, Little Picket

Named after the landmark, it is the 200th pilot gig to be built in the UK.

Gig rowing is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country and, with the arrival of the third boat in eight years, and Sidmouth Gig Club is no exception to the popularity of the sport.

It is tradition that a new boat be blessed before it has its maiden row to bring luck when out on the open seas, and Sidmouth Gig Club was delighted that the community came together for the occasion.

The Sidmouth Sea-Fest Shanty Singers welcomed everyone with their rendition of maritime classics including Drunken Sailor, Shoals of Herring and Mingulay.

Sidmouth Gig Club chairman Jeremy Cloke and fundraising officer Louise Beekhan receive a cheque for £15,000 from the Keith Owen Fund.Sidmouth Gig Club chairman Jeremy Cloke and fundraising officer Louise Beekhan receive a cheque for £15,000 from the Keith Owen Fund.

Sidmouth Gig Club chairman Jeremy Cloke gave thanks to boat builder, Louis Hunkin, who attended from Fowey, where his family have built traditional vessels for generations.

Further thanks were given to the organisations who had generously donated to fund the new boat – the Sid Vale Association’s (SVA) Keith Owen Fund, Sports England, Edwin and Joyce Hill Charitable Trust and Norman Family Charitable Trust.

The boat was then blessed by the Reverend Handel Bennett, of the SVA, and launched with a toast of champagne for her maiden row along the seafront.

Jeremy said: “It has been a really great day, a real celebration for watersports in Sidmouth.

A challenging launch for Little Pickets maiden row.A challenging launch for Little Pickets maiden row.

“We are so pleased to have Little Picket named and blessed so we can get her onto the water with all the members keen to have a row.

“Our membership has been growing every year and so the new addition to the club was very much needed, so we can continue to offer this affordable sport to the people of Sidmouth and the local area.

“I hope that, with the developments of the seafront, considerations will be given to the needs of the watersports activities which play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of the people in Sidmouth and the locality.”

SVA chairman Alan Darrant added: “We were delighted to be at the blessing of Little Picket.

Sidmouth Gig Club members enjoy their first row in the new gig.Sidmouth Gig Club members enjoy their first row in the new gig.

“The SVA has supported the development of the gig club, through the Keith Owen Fund, since the start and we are pleased to see it going from strength to strength.”

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