Lyme Regis gig crews continue to impress

The Lyme Regis and Bridport gigs in action at the Ilfracombe Regatta

The Lyme Regis and Bridport gigs in action at the Ilfracombe Regatta - Credit: Archant

A recent visit to the North Devon coast, saw Ilfracombe hold their annual regatta under the watchful eye of the statue Verity, writes Chris Bailey.

This meeting saw Lyme Regis Gig Club maintain their consistency in their overall standings, posting an impressive fourth position overall.

Some interesting, and sometimes challenging water, again meant that all rowers had to be 100 per cent focused!

Noticeably, in most of the categories, Lyme Regis and neighbours Bridport appeared to be competing in their own race, with finishing positions alternating between them during the afternoon.

The men’s vets’ race was perhaps the most watchable for both teams as there was a half a boat length between them for most of the race with Bridport favoured to win. On the last turn the Bridport crew went a little wide allowing Lyme’s cox, Michelle Prosser, to take a tighter turn at the mark, affording the Lyme boat an opportunity to nose themselves into the lead.

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With both teams ‘emptying the tanks’ in the home straight, the position could have been given to either boat, but it was Lyme who forged ahead to take the line by a half a boat length. A fantastic spectacle provided by both teams.

More recently, the Lyme club travelled to Teignmouth take part in their regatta. Once again, a keen south westerly wind, made for interesting racing. Even the crew changes on the beach were, at times, a little precarious, meaning all had to be ‘on hand’ to steady the boats.

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From a field of 16 teams, the ladies’ B race was first away, settling in to the midfield where they maintained their position to finish ninth.

This was followed by the ladies C race, where again the Lyme boat carved their way through the line of starters to pick up a seventh position.

The crew changes were becoming more of a challenge as the conditions were worsening at this point. None the less, the next race out was the ladies A.

Again with a full compliment of teams, the position of first boat at the marker was contested and Lyme rounded this mid-field, remaining steady for the remainder of the course to finish ninth.

A short break from the adult races came in the form of the junior races. Running an appropriately shorter course, the main contenders for this race were Fowey, Caradon and Ilfracombe with Fowey in a borrowed boat from Teignmouth crossing the line in first.

Adult racing resumed in ‘still worsening’ conditions, with the men’s B race. All through the first leg it was anyone’s race. The full drama of the afternoons racing became evident when the Lyme crew almost capsized. Approaching the first marker, the Brixham crew ‘had the water’ over Lyme Regis to turn first.

In a split second, a freak wave caused the Brixham boat to lift and turn 90 degrees to starboard, away from the marker, the same wave raising the bow of the Lyme boat and planting it on the stern of the Brixham boat. A scary few seconds for the Lyme crew.

Order was soon restored and stoked by this incident, both teams headed for the second and third markers with Brixham nudging in front on the home straight. However, Lyme were having none of it. Firing on all cylinders, they took Brixham and Cotehele Quay on the line to finish third.

There was a decision made following this race to cancel the Ladies and men’s vets and supervets races, because of the now dangerous sea, which meant the men’s C and A race would be the last events.

So, men’s C race next and Lyme crew member, Pete Mowatt celebrated a birthday in style with a very impressive second place posting for him and his fellow crew members. A great race, after which the whole club were treated to cake!

The ultimate race was now the men’s A. A much contested event, displaying the very best that each club had to offer. Again, a challenging race saw all teams heading to the first marker, trying to gain an advantage going into the following stages.

Lyme fought a hard race with the Teignmouth crew along the home stretch to finish alongside them in a dead heat equal sixth.

Lyme’s overall position from a field of 16 crews was an impressive fourth. Lyme Regis would like to thank the organisers and launch/recovery crew for their hard work and assistance. The next outing for the gig is Rame.

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