Sidmouth Gig Club complete 'turnover' and take receipt of new oars for the ladies

PUBLISHED: 13:38 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:13 12 April 2019

Twenty-three members of Sidmouth Gig Club turn the gig boat in under a minute. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Twenty-three members of Sidmouth Gig Club turn the gig boat in under a minute. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Archant

The first Sunday of April did not start too well for Sidmouth Gig Club, writes Nick Thompson.

Sidmouth Gig Club chair Gina Rodgers with Rotary Club present John Kinch together with rowers and then new oars. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUBSidmouth Gig Club chair Gina Rodgers with Rotary Club present John Kinch together with rowers and then new oars. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

A steady swell and a stiff breeze meant that the usual rowing session was cancelled.

However, club chair Gina Rodgers had put out an ‘all hands’ call and members turned out in large numbers for two missions.

Firstly, the club’s number two boat, Keith Owen, needed to be turned over for spring cleaning, and then the new set of ladies’ oars, funded by Sidmouth Rotary Club, was due to arrive.

Keith Owen was brought out from the boat shed behind the lifeboat station.

The turnover is complete the Keith Owen is returned to the shed. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUBThe turnover is complete the Keith Owen is returned to the shed. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Over months of use, it takes on board sand and small pebbles, so the first task was a wash-down.

Gig boats are 32 feet long, though for their size they are relatively light, and can be carried by eight people if necessary.

Turning one over is a different kettle of fish. You need at least 10 people on each side to rotate the boat, and half way round all the lifters have to switch their hold. No worries – as 25 stout men and fit women were ready, and with plenty of lifters the turnover was done in a minute, and the boat was soon resting on trestles.

Next, two volunteers armed with a hose pipe and brushes got under the boat and washed away more sand, while other members stood by offering encouragement!

Over 30 Sidmouth Gig Club members turned out to turn over Keith Owen at the start of a new seaso. The members were also presen to welcome the arrival of the new ladies oars. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUBOver 30 Sidmouth Gig Club members turned out to turn over Keith Owen at the start of a new seaso. The members were also presen to welcome the arrival of the new ladies oars. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Job done, and the upturned boat was lifted into the boat shed where it will receive some minor repairs and a repaint.

In a couple of weeks Keith Owen will be heading to the Scilly Isles ready to take part in the World Championships, which are traditionally held at the start of May.

For several years the Gig Club has taken part in the Sidmouth Swimathon fundraiser organised by Sidmouth Rotary Club, raising substantial amounts for local good causes.

Last year, the Rotary Club included the gig club as one of the recipients to enable us to buy a new set of oars for our ladies’ crews. Oars used by ladies and junior crews have a slightly smaller ‘shovel’ end, and are lighter than the ones the men use.

Sidmouth Gig Club members turn one of the gig boats over. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUBSidmouth Gig Club members turn one of the gig boats over. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Oars like these are made by master craftsmen, with hollow shafts and a perfect varnished finish.

The new set arrived on time, and the Rotary president, John Kinch, and swimathon organiser Nigel Sharp were present to mark the event.

The new set, which cost £2,600, will be ideal for ladies’ crews and encourage younger people to take up the sport.

The Sidmouth Gig Club offers a warm welcome to new members, whatever their ability.

Sidmouth Gig Club members picking small pebbles from the floor of a well-used gig boat. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUBSidmouth Gig Club members picking small pebbles from the floor of a well-used gig boat. Picture SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

We have around 100 members and are a sociable club with lots of non-rowing activities.

There is also a growing youth section which welcomes youngsters from age 13 and over.

If you are interested in joining the club or coming along to a taster session, please search online for “Sidmouth Gig Club” or contact the membership secretary at sidmouthgigclub@gmail.com

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