THE first May Bank Holiday saw Lyme Regis Gig Club racing in the Cornish Pilot Gig World Championships.
The demanding and prestigious sea rowing event is held in the Isles of Scilly – the birth place of the sport – and pitches top clubs and crews from the islands, the South West and Holland in three days of gruelling races.
Not held since 2019 due to the pandemic, this year Lyme Regis Gig Club fielded six crews to fight it out alongside Bridport, Weymouth, Swanage and some of the best crews in the sport.
There were three separate competitions as part of the world championships, offering honours for Men’s and Women’s SuperVets (rowers over 50), Vets (rowers over 40) and the open races for those over 16 years and above.
This year the sun shone gloriously on Friday and Saturday but turned rainy on Sunday, the sea was calm throughout.
The format for all three competitions are the same, with each kicking off with the ‘long race’ from the island of St Agnes to St Mary’s, a distance of 1.8 miles and usually taking around 20 minutes of hard rowing.
After crossing the finishing line, and based on their positions, crews are put into divisions of 12 who race again, twice, from Nut Rock to St Marys, a distance of 1.2 miles and an exhausting sprint.
The winners of each of these heats goes up a division and the bottom two drop down to the next group. Each competition finishes with a final and the award of the World Championship Trophy to the winners.
Starting on Friday afternoon, the competition saw the Lyme Women’s SuperVets crews lining up off St Agnes for the long race back to the finish line and then followed by shorted Nut Rock heats that evening and on Saturday morning.
Lyme’s two Women’s SuperVets crews did extremely well with the B Crew finishing 34th and the A Crew a fabulous 10th.
Following the same format, the Men’s SuperVets race started later on Friday evening and, after enduring three closely contested races, Lyme’s B Crew came in at 37th and the Lyme Men’s A Crew an amazing seventh.
The open race followed on Saturday afternoon with 114 crews lining up again at St Agnes for the long race, followed by a Nut Rock race later that day and two, including the final on Sunday.
The women’s open race saw Lyme Regis A Crew finish at 76th. This crew had valiantly also raced the day before in the SuperVets race.
The men’s open race saw Lyme Regis B Crew finish at 60th and the Men’s A Crew a remarkable 20th, the best finish the club has had in the 15 years it has been racing at the World Pilot Gig Championships.
The World Pilot Gig Championships are run by a team from the Isles of Scilly who host the most amazing, unforgettable event and Lyme Regis Gig Club would like to thank the organisers and islands for their wonderful hospitality.
After the success of the World Pilot Gig Championships, and over the coming racing season Lyme Regis Gig Club will be competing at regattas, every other weekend, throughout the South West starting in Weymouth on May 28 and finishing with the Cornish County Championships in Newquay in September.
Lyme Regis Gig Club will be hosting its own Regatta on August 13 as part of the town’s Regatta and Carnival celebrations.