LYME Regis Gig Club men’s division took part on the Cornwall County Championships last weekend.
High winds and rough seas were the theme of the weekend of gig racing in one of the most prestigious championships on the go racing circuit. The Cornwall County Championship is the oldest gig racing competition and dates back to 1970 when just a few local Cornish crews took part.
This year the two-day event saw nearly 80 crews taking part in the men’s event alone. Unlike most other regattas, in the Newquay event crews are randomly allotted boats, so crews are never quite sure what the boat will be set up like, adding further to the challenge. In round one, crews are split into heats of 6 boats.
Lyme entered three men’s crews, with B crew taking to the seas first in heat one. A solid row with stiff competition saw the crew come in 5th, not enough to make it to round two, but with an overall position of 66th and the 4th best C crew overall. Next up were Lyme’s A crew, drawn in heat two. They led from the start and were able to ease off to come home in 1st position and through to round two.
The B crew had to wait until heat 12 later in the morning. They battled well finishing 4th in their heat and with a fast enough time to comfortably make it to round two. The afternoon’s round two was made up of eight heats, with Lyme’s A and B crew drawn in the same heat, which meant a shuffle of coxswains. With Chris Walters and David Clayton stepping into the driving seats, the crews lined up along with five other crews on the start line. Strong winds and heavy seas pushed some boats back as the start was called which left both Lyme’s crews at the back of the field.
The A crew gradually drew through the group but could not catch leaders Bristol and came home in 2nd place. The B crew battled hard for a 6th place finish. This meant the A crew had made it through to day two of the event, with the B crew finishing 36th. Sunday’s racing saw no let-up in the conditions, with winds turning westerly resulting in even rougher water.
Lyme were drawn in heat four alongside Falmouth (World Champions), the formidable Caradon and also Newquay, Coverack, Cotehele Quay and Padstow. Rowing in “Lannvorek” initially they held their own with Caradon alongside but a technical fault with the foot holders saw them drop to 4th. Then, as they took the first buoy turn, they were taken on the inside by both Coverack and Newquay crews. They continued to battle hard knowing they could still qualify for the next round on time, but despite keeping close with the crews ahead they came in 5th place, 14 seconds from making it through to the semi-final.
Their final positon of 17th saw both the A and B crews improve on last year’s results. This is an admirable achievement in a sport where the bar is set considerably higher each year with crews becoming fitter, more professional and technically better – a long way from those early days in the 1970s!
Final winners were Falmouth, followed by Caradon (2nd), Looe (3rd) and Caradon B (4th). Although there are a few minor races yet to come, the Newquay races mark the traditional end of the competitive season, with rowers taking a well deserved rest before starting the long winter build up towards racing in 2017.
Next month there will be a full report on the club’s endeavours over the course of the season.
If you have ever fancied having a go at gig rowing and getting fitter in the process, go to www.lymeregisgigclub.com for details.