Lyme Regis Gig Club celebrates a record breaking season on and off the high sea

Lyme Gig Club men’s A crew ready for the start at Rame.

Lyme Gig Club men’s A crew ready for the start at Rame. - Credit: Archant

Lyme Regis Gig Club held their AGM at which they looked back on a hugely successful year, in which new records were set in what was their best season to date, writes Tony Ford.

The clubs active membership now stands at 166 from Lyme and the surrounding area, making it one of the largest clubs, in terms of members taking part in sport, in West Dorset.

Member ages ranges from nine to 80. The club has a growing number of youth rowers, many of these took part in the Jurassic Coast Junior Races last Saturday where 50 young rowers competed. In veteran racing (over 40) the club is now one of the top few clubs in the country in terms of results, making the top ten in three of the four categories, in the World Championships.

The club has a strong social side, with plenty of off-water activities and training plus ample post row coffees by the Cobb, evening drinks in the local pubs and a monthly social get together. There are lots of club members who prefer to row for the sheer pleasure of some healthy exercise in Lyme Bay in these beautifully crafted traditional wooden boats. The club rowers make up the heart of this thriving gig club.

The clubs origins stem from a desire for long distance Ocean rowing, and in 2016 a division started up focusing on just this. They have taken part in several long distance races and plan many more for 2017. In fact the club has five Atlantic Ocean crossings under the belts of its membership.

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During the racing season the club attended more regattas than ever before. From the season opener 3 Rivers Race in Plymouth to the season end races on the Helford and the Tamar last weekend, the club has sent crews to 25 separate regattas. This means that all those who wish to compete have plenty of chance to race. Furthermore, some club members will fly off to Bermuda this month to represent Lyme in the first ever gig races on the other side of the Atlantic.

There has been huge success in the regattas this year. The men’s A crew have lead the way with wins in Weymouth, Ilfracombe, Bridport and Lyme and came in 14th out of 160 crews in the World Championships on the Isles of Scilly. Not be outdone the men’s vets crew (over 40’s) won in Weymouth, Bridport, Lyme, Ilfracombe and Teignmouth plus a fine second in the highly ranked Rame regatta and a brilliant fourth in the World Championships. Further wins also for the men’s C crew in Dartmouth and the men’s supervets in Lyme.

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Although fewer victories for the ladies, they have made up massive ground on the other clubs, progressing up through the ranks in great strides with the ladies A crew becoming increasingly competitive. The ladies supervets tasted victory in Ilfracombe while the ladies A made the top 50 for the first time in the World Championships. All the ladies crews contributed to Lyme’s first ever club trophy in a regatta, winning the overall award in their home regatta in August.

The competitive side of gig rowing has evolved beyond recognition in the last few years, with top crews becoming extremely fit, well trained and coached. So for existing rowers the challenge gets tougher, for new rowers there’s a great to opportunity take on a rapidly changing sport on the high seas.

During 2016 the club added two new boats to the fleet. A plastic gig named Prospero to allow access for even more rowers. To help the growth of the youth division a new fibre glass skiff named Storm Force was added. The club also invested in two sets of new oars and recently six new Concept 2 rowing machines to provide training opportunities for when rowing is cancelled due to poor weather and to enhance fitness for all, especially the competitive division.

Thirteen trophies in total, 25 regattas attended, 10 crews attending the World Championships, 166 active members, two new boats and countless weekends, mornings and evening rows in Lyme Bay (last count was over 750 launches in the year!). It’s been a record season. Another great landmark comes up in the New Year as Lyme Regis Gig Club will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Looking forward to the 2017 season, the club has voted in new men’s captain, Ton Short, with ladies captain, Anna Doxey, being re-elected. The steady and sustained growth of the club over the past ten years will continue in 2017. The club have grown to the point that they are now outgrowing their current facilities and hope to develop towards improved facilities in this next period of growth.

The months of winter training now start in preparation for the first race in March. The club will have various types of off-water training taking place and rowing continues on weekends throughout the winter, weather permitting. The club is keen to welcome new members of all ages and abilities, so if you fancy some leisurely social rowing or want to get fitter and compete at the top level of this ever growing and highly competitive sport just get in touch. Before you sign-up as a fully-fledged member you can give gig rowing a go in a taster session or two to see if you’ll like it. Go to for details.

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