Thames Great River Race - Report

Saturday 3rd September 2016

Lyme Regis Gig Club undertook their first foray to London last Saturday, September 3rd to participate in the 29th annual Great River Race. This is a colourful specticle of over 330 fixed seat, traditional boats powered by a minimum of 4 oars or paddles. The race takes contestants up the River Thames from Millwall Docks to Ham House in Richmond, a distance of 21.8 miles and beneath 28 bridges. Each boat must be coxed and in keeping with the Thames Watermen's ancient traditions as the river's taxi drivers, must carry a passenger. Time Out magazine described the event as being'less po-faced than the Oxbridge race and much more colourful'.

Lyme Regis Gig Club took their two GRP gigs, Revenge and Prospero, the newest addition to the fleet. Under slightly overcast skies and in choppy conditions both gigs got of to fantastic starts as the tide swept them up to Tower Bridge and they stayed in the top half of the Cornish Pilot Gig class for the duration of the race. Although some of the Lyme crew members were seasoned endurance rowers (one had rowed accross the Atlantic twice), for the majority it was their first time over a course of this distance. It has to be said that both crews coped with the long row extraordinarily well, even if the general view was that the last 4.5 miles from Kew Railway Bridge felt as if it took longer than the first 17 miles!

Both Lyme's gigs completed the course in under 3 hours, Revenge and Prospero finishing 93rd and 118th overall respectively (of 324 finishers) This made them 17th and 21st respectively of 42 finishers in their class. Both crews thoroughly enjoyed the experience and even the heavy rain after the finish while getting the boats out of the river could not dampen the sense of satisfaction and achievement felt by all. Lyme Regis Gig Club plan to make this a regular pilgrimage for the Club in the future.

Revenge Crew: Neil Wittridge, Anna Doxey, Alison Robinson, Nick Bale, Roger Brine, Jackie Ireland, Jo Schmidt, Jeff Legge.

Prospero Crew: Zoe King, Karen Tomkins, Marcus Dixon, Phil Hayward, Cris Walters, Diana Dixon, Clare Round, Michelle Prosser.     

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