World Championships 2016 - Isles of Scilly
Thursday 5th May 2016
A weekend of emotional highs and lows were experienced by all who attended this year's World Championship Pilot Gig Racing on the Isles of Scilly. And for Lyme Regis Gig Club this as no exception, with notable achievements and some disappointments thrown in for good measure.
After hard and committed land and water training fitness sessions through the winter for the competitive squad, it was time to 'go to work'.
The weekends event would take the form of a Mens and Ladies Vets (40>) and supervets (50>) race on Friday evening over a 1.59 nautical mile race from St Agnes to St Mary's Quay. From a start line almost as long as the lengt of the course, the Ladies race was underway in more favourable conditions than last year. The Lyme Ladies Vets in 'Black Ven' and the Supervets in 'Rebel' would set off at the drop of the starter's flag and race towards the finish. The Ladies Vets crossed the line in a respectable 18th place from a field of 48 gigs, with the Supervets finishing a very commendable 9th place from 25 starters.
After a quick change on St Mary's beach, it would be the Men's turn to row out to the start line for their race covering the same course. The race gigs were allocated the same as the ladies but a second Supervets boat was entered by the Lyme team. The men's vets fought a stirling battle with the main front runners to eventually cross the line in 4th place from 36 enterants. An exceptional performance! The Supervets (1) crew crossed the line in 6th place with the second Supervets crew finishing in 14th, both from a field of 32 crews. All the Lyme crews finishing positions were significantly higher than last year. A great result for the Club, racing amongst the best in the world.
The remainder of the weekend would take in 4 races, which would ultimately determine the group standings in the World Championships on the Sunday. Each group would accomodate 12 boats. Of these 12 gigs, the first 2 would be promoted to the next highest group. Likewise, finish in the bottom 2 and they would go down a group.
The event kicked off on the Saturday morning with a repeat of the longer St Agnes to St Mary's race, followed by 3 shorter races of 1.16 nautical miles from Nut Rock to St Mary's Quay. In the long race Lyme's Men's A creaw earned the top slot in Group A, for the start of the heats on the Saturday afternoon. This meant they had a chance to go for the title if hey stayed in this top group throughout the weekend. They maintained their standing going into the second heats on the Sunday morning, so were still in the running. Frustratingly they were just pipped on the line by he 10th placed boat which took them down to Group B. This meant they would start the final race in Group B. From the start they made an impression on the rest of the pack, gradually forging ahead to take the lead and it looked like they were going to earn themselves a podium finish for Group B but it went to a photo fininish on the line with the victory eventually being awarded to the St Mary's gig 'Tregarthens'. This meant that they had finished 14th in the World, ten places higher than last year.
For the Mens B Team, the Nut Rock heats started with them in Group E and another drama was about to unfold as the start did not go well for hem. A minor technical issue outside of their control meant the Lyme crew did not hear the pre-start command and they were last off the line. That said they made up ground on the remainder of the pack but couldn't quite gain the 2 places required for them to at least stay in the group. However, the next heat was to change their overall fate. In this race, they had to finish in the top 2 to go back into Group E and they did it in style, finishing winners with a lead of 2 to 3 boat lengths. So a Group E finish was to be their overall achievement, finishing 6th in the final race. An improvement of 6 positions over last year.
The Men's C Team played the consistency game, not dropping any groups through all their heats, starting and finishing in Group G. Although, they narrowly missed promotion to Group F by one position, finishing 3rd in their first heat.
The emotional roller coaster didn't stop at the MEN's heats as the Ladies crews took to the water in their bid to make a mark on the weekend's proceedings. After the initial qualifier, The Ladies B Team foud themselves in Group J for the first heat. The race would see hem haul Black Ven across the line in the top 2 .places, earning them promotion into Group I for he next heat. The competition grew stronger with every remaining heat. Consiquently they couldn't quite hang on to their group standing, finishing in the bottom two, taking them back down to Group J, which is where they would remain in the final race.
The Lasies C Team were a crew put together in the weeks leading up to the Championships, having very little time to train together. The team consisted of some of Lyme's Ladies complemented by some of the ladies from neighbouring Bridport Gig Club. Luck was not on their side, however, as after the initial selection heat in Group G they couldn't quite maintain their position, dropping by 2 groups before the final. That said, their disciplined approach and determination meant they finished considerably higher than other more established teams in their catagory.
The Ladies A Team also managed to maintain their group standing over all of the heats, entering and finishing in Group E. Like the Men's A, this race was filled with drama and mixed emotion as they thought they'd won the heat and the Group final, which would have put them onto the podium as winners of Group E. This elation was short lived as a photo finish revealed they had been denied victory, being pipped into second place.
The 2016 Championships have seen Lyme Regis Gig Club produce their best tally in the Isles of Sclly yet.