Lyme Regis Gig Club's Nigel Le Gassick races gigs in The Thames 'Boat Race'
Wednesday 12th April 2017
The Oxford Cambridge University Boat Race is so well known globally it is commonly referred to as "The Boat Race". What is slightly less well know is that this year was the Thames Traditional Rowing Association (TTRA) had been given permission to run a series of races before the main Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. After a procession from Mortlake to Putney following the Glorianna two CPGA gig crews (of 8 rowers each) had the honour of being allowed to race replica boats of the originals raced by for university crews back in 1829.
Rowers from Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Clevedon, Dartmouth, Boscastle & Crackington Haven, Mevagissey and myself representing Lyme Regis made their way to the tideway in London to take part in the event in perfect weather and water conditions against a crew made up of the recently formed London Cornish Gig CLub. The race was always going to be a friendly event but a race none the less!
The CPGA crew racing for Oxford in 'ISIS' certainly had experience on their side but London Cornish in 'CAM' could claim the advantage of having rowed together before and rumour had it in their race boat. In true boat race fashion the berth was decided by a coin toss with the CPGA winning and calling the Surry station. After a few minutes waiting for the course to clear and nerves building both crew made their way to the start line just outside London Rowing Club. In true Gig rowing style the start was called quickly.
Both crews left the blocks at a solid 38 SPM but by Fulham football club the CPGA was able to squeeze an advantage of half a length. Ahead at Hammersmith Bridge the CPGA crew were able to have the pick of the water and by aiming for the second lamppost on the left on Hammersmith bridge (I knew there was a reason for slogging my scull up and down that stretch in a previous life!) the CPGA cox Martin Walton (Mevagissey) made sure they got it. The end result was a comfortable win for the CPGA crew. The distance perhaps suggests an easy race but the CPGA crew were under no illusion that London Cornish were competitive, technically sound and have youth on their side- next year could prove very interesting indeed!
Once off the water both crews were able to share a cider, discuss the race and catch-up with developments in our respective clubs (don't worry Tony Short no training secrets given away!). An outstanding day and a medal to boot!