Sidmouth Gig Club get the news they’ve been waiting for - a return to action!

PUBLISHED: 10:48 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:48 20 August 2020

Sidmouth rowers are looking forward to the return of Sunday morning rows, which is often a trip to Ladram Bay, a cheeky ice-cream and a quick row back. Picture: SGC

Sidmouth rowers are looking forward to the return of Sunday morning rows, which is often a trip to Ladram Bay, a cheeky ice-cream and a quick row back. Picture: SGC

Archant

As with other sports, gig rowing came to a sudden stop due to lock-down in March, writes Nick Thompson.

Sidmouth rowers are looking forward to the return of Sunday morning rows, which is often a trip to Ladram Bay, a cheeky ice-cream and a quick row back. Picture SGCSidmouth rowers are looking forward to the return of Sunday morning rows, which is often a trip to Ladram Bay, a cheeky ice-cream and a quick row back. Picture SGC

Indeed, the weather in January and February had been so poor that rowing had only been possible on a few occasions in the new year, and it’s a great relief to finally hear that the sport’s governing body, the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, has agreed arrangements for rowing to recommence on August 29.

The club’s members have done their best to stay fit over the past six months.

Firstly, they arranged weekly circuit training sessions with Matt Meek of Sidmouth Bike Studios at the Alexandria Industrial Estate.

These sessions included weight training as well as bikes and Ergo rowing machines, with disco rhythms to drown out the pain, and Matt’s constant stream of encouragement.

Many legs make light work. Sixteen club members rotate the 32 foot boat and lower it on to the trestles. Picture SGCMany legs make light work. Sixteen club members rotate the 32 foot boat and lower it on to the trestles. Picture SGC

One hour of training is clearly not enough to keep a squad of highly trained rowers in peak fitness so Matt came up with two hour Boot Camp; walkers on Mutters Moor or the Byes may have been surprised to see groups running in pairs carrying a two-metre plank, pouring river water over their heads, sliding down plastic sheets, lying in on the bed of the river Sid doing ‘bicycle’ movements, or running as a snake holding a 40-foot rope!

A group of gig rowers did get to sea once, on June 24, to mark the summer solstice.

Not in gig boats but in a socially distanced flotilla of kayaks and canoes, setting off at 5am to welcome the sun rising over the cliffs.

In normal years, the club takes part in Regattas along the south coast and the World Championship in the Scilly Isles.

Sidmouth Gg Club mmebers in actyion during the 'Boot Camp' Picture SGCSidmouth Gg Club mmebers in actyion during the 'Boot Camp' Picture SGC

This year only one of our boats entered a competition but it won!

It should be pointed out that this was the Sidmouth Scarecrow competition, the boat was Alma, and the crew were seven pirates made by club members.

Our two wooden gig boats did get as far as the sea once in July.

Four months lying unused in the boat house during the hot weather of May had cause them to dry out, and small cracks started to appear of the outer paintwork.

Two boats in the water, but no oars or rowers. Several inches of sea water were bailed in to soak the water and seal the cracks. Picture SGCTwo boats in the water, but no oars or rowers. Several inches of sea water were bailed in to soak the water and seal the cracks. Picture SGC

So, Keith Owen and Little Picket were taken to the beach and soaked for a few hours.

Onlookers on the promenade were surprised to see them being launched without oars, and bailers being used to scoop sea water into the boats.

The Gig Club is affiliated with the Sailing Club, and the social side has not been overlooked.

The kitchen of the Sailing Club has been refitted, and two socials were held to let members see how smart a venue it now is.

Sidmouth Gig Clubs crew of seven pirates came first in the Sidmouth Scarecrow festival.  Picture SGCSidmouth Gig Clubs crew of seven pirates came first in the Sidmouth Scarecrow festival. Picture SGC

There was also a supper served on August 8, in the style normally served after rowing on Friday nights.

When the news arrived, that rowing could restart it was met with joy, relief and a little surprise.

Some further maintenance is needed, and, last Sunday members met for a ‘turnover’ session.

Gig boats are 32 feet long; for their size they are not very heavy, but it needs at least eight people on each side to turn one over.

The Sidmouth Gig Club flotilla watches the sun come up over the cliffs at Branscombe. Picture; SGCThe Sidmouth Gig Club flotilla watches the sun come up over the cliffs at Branscombe. Picture; SGC

Little Picket was turned outside the boat house and returned to be covered with towels soaked in sea water to continue its ‘rehydration’.

The Sidmouth rowers are keen to get back to their Wednesday and Friday evening rows which run until the end of October, and the Sunday morning sessions which are run throughout the year.

The 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 sidmouthgigclub@gmail.com


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