Sidmouth Gig Club crews enjoy the 2019 World Championships
- Credit: Archant
Nearly 30 members of Sidmouth Gig Club travelled to the Scilly Isles over the bank holiday weekend to take part in the 30th World Championship races, writes Nick Thompson.
This year over 160 pilot gig racing boats from clubs throughout the west of England and beyond took part.
Sidmouth entered both their racing-spec boats, Keith Owen and Little Picket.
The first of the races was the Vets (over 40) and SuperVets (over 50), racing from St Agnes to St Mary's through two miles of choppy water and into a strong wind.
Sidmouth had 'A' and 'B' crews racing in both ladies and men's categories.
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The crews had focussed on training over the winter, both rowing at sea and in the gym, and the racing went well. However, gig racing is growing rapidly in popularity and standards are increasing all the time.
The best of the results for Sidmouth were a 28th finish out of 48 crews for the ladies 'A' crew while the men's 'A' crew also finished 28th, in theircase in a field of 41.
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Saturday morning started with further long races, this time with massed starts of over 160 boats and, with the start line being half a mile long, it leaves crews rowing neck-and-neck for over 20 minutes to the finish line at the quay at St Mary's.
Sidmouth's best place was the ladies 'A' crew who came 92nd out of 163, while the men's A crew finished 116th. Conditions were demanding; very choppy water and there was a a 20mph head wind to contend with.
The course then changes to a shorter route from Tresco to St Mary's, and boats row in groups of 12 based on their position in the long races.
At this point the Sidmouth focus switched to the men's 'B' crew who started in the lowest group.
They were short of a cox and one of the ladies, Helen Hamilton, stepped up for the task.
Helen had never rowed on that course and had never coxed a race before, but the crew worked as a team and went on to win the race and promotion to a higher group.
However, on Sunday morning it was a case of 'from hero to zero' and they were just squeezed out of that group in another hard race.
But all was not lost; in the final race it was 'zero to hero' and they were clear winners, earning a prize for being top in the group and a moment of glory on the podium.
By that time our crews had transformed themselves into the Sidmouth Spartans with swords, shields, helmets and an assortment of fancy dress.
As such they toured the streets and pubs of St Mary's spreading a lots of noise and fun - great ending to a memorable weekend.
Altogether it was great weekend with some very hard rowing in an amazing sporting event.
We also came home with a cup, and will need to acquire an Awards Cabinet, albeit a small one. Roll on next year for more excellent sport and good fun.
The Sidmouth Gig Club offers a warm welcome to new members, whatever their ability.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org