Gig racers enjoy first regatta

Sidmouth Gig Club entered their first competitive regatta in their new gig, Keith Owen , on Saturday.

Disappointed by the cancellation of Bridport Regatta, few weeks ago because of poor sea conditions, crews were optimistic that Weymouth would go ahead in the shelter of the huge harbour.

Hospitality tents were set up on the Nothe fort, the viewpoint for the forthcoming Olympics, on the edge of Weymouth harbour. It provided a stunning setting with Olympic sailing trials carrying on in the background. A strong south westerly made conditions extremely choppy but Sidmouth crews had been out practising in rough seas at home so had no reservations about rowing in such turbulent waters. Nine gigs were entered from clubs as far apart as Mounts Bay in Marazion to Swanage, including local rivals Bridport and Lyme Regis.

The men’s A team were up against stiff competition bearing in mind that they were entering veterans against 20-40 year olds. Although last of the nine in the race, it was a sterling effort in a mile sprint. In the men’s veteran’s race, Sidmouth were more evenly matched with the opposition and managed to hold off Bristol and in a thrilling battle came in last but one. The ladies’ veterans rowed hard against Portland in their race to avoid finishing last but were beaten on the turn at the marker buoy where team tactics came into play and combined with a head wind, lost their position.

The mixed team rowed exceptionally well but unfortunately were outmanoeuvred again, this time by local rivals Lyme Regis who refused to give way to Sidmouth at the marker buoy. They managed to hold off Portland to finish last but one - a heroic victory on the day. The whole day was greatly enjoyed and was a huge learning curve for newcomers Sidmouth. Both rowers and coxes learned new racing techniques which they will carry forward to the next event in Salcombe in two week’s time.

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