World Championships 2017 - Isles of Scilly - Report

Tuesday 16th May 2017

For any sporting club to continue to improve in a sport that is rapidly evolving is a great achievement, but that is exactly what Lyme Regis Gig Club have done continuously over the past few years.

This progress continued at the annual World Pilot Gig Championships 2017 held in the Isles of Scilly. These championships need to be seen to be believed!

They take place against the backdrop of the beautiful Isles of Scilly, which at the beginning of May are often alternately sunny, calm and picturesque or rapidly changing to become cold, grey, stormy, rainy with rough seas driven on by Atlantic swells.

Joined by over 3,500 gig rowers from all over the South West and as far as the Netherlands, Ireland and the USA, Lyme Gig Club entered a record 43 rowers in 11 racing crews.

The first day of racing (Friday) saw the vets and Super-vets races take place from St Agnes to St Mary’s Quay, a distance of 1.59 nautical moles on a calm evening as the sun set.

The ladies super-vets were first out, finishing 10th in a field of 27. Next were the ladies’ vets who ended up 18th in a field of 51 gigs.

As the sun continued to set and with fading light the men’s super vets crew finished an outstanding third out of 26 gigs!

The Lyme crew of Chris ‘Derby’ Walters, Neil Spurdle, Toby Newson, Peter Rowsell, Chris Bailey and Nick Bale, have a wealth of experience behind them had already shone with a dominant win it Dartmouth earlier in April and continued the form here. Only narrowly beaten by Helford and Charlestown, they battled all the way to the line. This is the first top three result for any Dorset crew in the history of the championships.

Finally, on the first night of action, as the night crept in, the men’s vets completed their race, finishing eighth out of a field of 42.

The first main races on Saturday are again the Long Race from St Agnes to St Mary’s Quay and all the 140 or so competing gigs rowed out in the blustery seas to the mile long start line.

Following this race, each gig is seeded based on the St Agnes race and the heats are split into groups of 12 for the next race from Nut Rock, off Tresco to St Mary’s Quay.

One of these heats are held later on the Saturday afternoon and one on the Sunday morning, with the top two gigs being promoted and the bottom two relegated. The finals for both the men and ladies take place on the Sunday afternoon, again racing the same course. Each group then has a winner and the outcome of Group A decides who the overall champion is. These races took place into the wind and sea and the competition was fierce at every level.

All the Lyme Regis Gig Club crews competed extremely well against very tough opponents. The ladies A achieved a fantastic 17th in the Long Race on Saturday and finished a club record best at 36th in a field of 143.

The ladies B crew came in a good 89th. The overall ladies winning clubs were:, 1, Caradon; 2, Fowey; 3, St Mary’s Gig Club.

The Lyme Regis men’s A crew finished an amazing 18th; the men’s B crew were 40th; the men’s C crew 79th and the illustrious men’s D crew were 114th, all in a field of 140 gigs.

In terms of the overall men’s results, it finished: 1, Falmouth; 2, Looe; 3, Caradon. These final races tested the fitness event further, but the club’s long winter of fitness training paid off, resulting in the best ever set of results for Lyme Gig Club.

It was a remarkable achievement and again marks Lyme Regis Gig Club as fiercely competitive and force to be reckoned with both now and increasingly so in the future.

Massive thanks to the Clubs Championship’s Coxns, who did a remarkable job and three of whom alternately coxed and rowed through the main events.

Finally big thanks to those who invested so much time in preparing the boats for travel, especially Jeff Legge and David Clayton, amongst many others.

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