Tough intro to estuary gig rowing

Sunny skies and for once, no rain saw Sidmouth Gig Racing Club compete at Salcombe last Sunday in their second ever outing with their new gig Keith Owen, writes Val Huntingdon.

Competition was extremely hard as some of the others of the 10 teams taking part were amongst the top clubs -namely Caradon-based at Saltash and home team Salcombe.

It was the first time for many Sidmouth rowers to experience estuary rowing, so they were hoping for calm water as opposed to sea conditions, but a chilly wind was blowing down the estuary which, combined with a strong current and an incoming tide, meant conditions were far from easy. Unexpected illness and injury problems were hastily overcome on the day with a bit of team reorganisation to put out five teams.

Each race consisted of a long row out from the yacht club, unfortunately straight into the wind to Salcombe castle and rocks followed by a kite shape course around marker buoys and then a row back with the wind behind to help the weary rowers home.

The ladies were out first and managed to hold off the Dartmouth team in Lightning on the finish line to come in ninth. It became obvious at this point that the host team of Salcombe had a huge home advantage as they knew the currents and where the calmer waters would be found, which changed between every race.


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Next out were the men who made a valiant effort but were just beaten into last place by Isambard from Bristol and Ginette of Tamar and Tavy club.

The ladies’ veterans fared no better but although last, put up an admirable effort against much more experienced (and younger!) teams. The men’s veterans put in a huge effort and came in eighth place, one better than at Weymouth so were very pleased.

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An enjoyable day was had by everybody in the beautiful surroundings of Salcombe estuary. All in all a commendable effort against the odds in an event consisting of mostly experienced river rowers from long established clubs.

Again, as at Weymouth, a huge learning curve for rowers and coxes in racing tactics which will be taken on to the next event at Lyme Regis

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