LYME Regis Gig Club is celebrating its best ever year at the World Cornish Pilot Gig Championships, held on the Isles of Scilly over the recent Bank Holiday weekend.
The championships saw 164 gigs fight it out over the three-day event, with cold temperatures, a mixture of sunny intervals and high winds creating some rough seas.
The Cevent got underway on the Friday evening with Lyme Regis’ Ladies and Men’s Vets and SuperVets racing the 1.8 miles from St Agnes to the harbour entrance on St Mary’s.
The top 12 Vets and SuperVets teams raced again for the winners’ trophies on the Saturday morning, over the 1.2 mile course from Nut Rock to St Mary’s.
The Ladies Vets came a good 24th in a field of 50 gigs and the Ladies SuperVets achieved a fantastic sixth place.
The Friday evening continued as the light began to fade with the Mens Vets crossing the start line off St Agnes at 7pm and the Men’s SuperVets at 7.30pm, and both achieved top 12 rankings for the shorter Saturday finalists races.
The Lyme Regis crews performed brilliantly with the Men’s Vets coming fourth and the Mens SuperVets a fantastic second.
The World Championship ‘Open Race’ kicked off on Saturday afternoon and the organisers advised inexperienced crews not to participate due to high winds and rough seas. The Men and Ladies races started each with the long race from St Agnes to St Mary’s and a mile-long start line as 164 gigs lined up under starters orders.
The racing crews were then put into divisions of 12 according to their position in the St Agnes long race and competed in three shorter 1.2-mile races from Nut Rock. At the end of each race the top two boats went up a division and the bottom two were relegated.
The last of the three Nut Rock races and the finals were held on Sunday afternoon, followed by gig rafting, cheering, singing and celebrations.
Lyme Regis Ladies A Crew achieved a club best of 26th place, the Ladies B Crew a good 72nd and the Ladies C Crew close behind at 76th. The hard training that the ladies competitive crews did over the winter and the great coaching from Mike O’Leary certainly paid dividends and position the club for a successful season ahead.
The Lyme Men’s crews also did excellently with the A Crew achieving a great 28th place and the B Crew close at their heals at 34th. The C Crew won their group at 49th, rowing in Bridport’s gig ‘Blaez’ for a podium finish.
There weren’t any other clubs that got three crews into the top 50 places.
The Men’s Development Crew were set back by being rammed in their first race but came back valiantly with a great second in Group I.
Lyme Regis Gig Club further added to its notoriety when a crew of 28 members arrived in the tall ship Pelican of London. Departing early on May 1, The Pelican attracted a lot of attention, including being featured on BBC Spotlight, when she anchored off St Mary’s and in an excellent position to view the championship races.
The gig club voyage crew certainly had an interesting adventure, some might say closer to a Viking saga than a Saga Holiday, and all were safely delivered back to Plymouth on Tuesday where a number happily jumped ship and fled ashore.
The championships are almost a victim of their own success and, as a result of their popularity and the increasing number of gig clubs across the country, will be restricted to 120 gigs in 2020.
This year was a transition to next year’s new format. Most gig clubs will be invited to bring one gig each, which will restrict the numbers of participating rowers. However, the top 12 clubs this year and those in the top three in Vets and SuperVets are invited to bring two gigs in 2020.
The fantastic result achieved by the Men’s SuperVets means Lyme Regis Gig Club will be one of the top clubs with two gigs in the line up next year.
Marcus Dixon of Lymme Regis Gig Club commented: “The fortunes of many gig clubs over the years have ebbed and flowed and few have developed and succeeded consistently as we do. Our team spirit and can do mentality are key to this and lets make Lyme Regis Gig Club the best. We are well on our way already.”
For more details on Lyme Regis Gig Club, visit www.lymeregisgigclub.com