Monday, February 24, 2014
Inaugral championships draw 15 crews to the Torridge Estuary
Pilot gig rowers from all over the South West descended on the Torridge Estuary on Sunday for the inaugural Supervets Pilot Gig Championships in Appledore.
The teams waited anxiously for confirmation that the event would go ahead, and rowers trapped on shore for the previous storm-lashed weeks were thrilled to get out on the water for some serious competition.
Black threatening skies, gale force squalls and white water on the river provided exciting conditions for the rowers, all of whom were aged 50 plus.
Power and tenacity were required to row up river to the start line against the wind and tide, while skilful timing and strong team work brought the crews on a fast run back to the finish by Appledore’s iconic anchor on the quay.
15 crews, including Appledore, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Torridge, as well as a few first time visitors to Appledore, took part in the event, with races for men, ladies and mixed crews.
As the sport of pilot gig rowing has expanded rapidly over the last few years, the supervets over-50 age group has also increased in numbers.
The races took the form of heats between eight boats, followed by six-crew finals in each category.
Changeover of crews, oars, seats and even oar-pins presented a colourful and often frantic spectacle in the narrow confines of the slipway, with many on-lookers impressed by the skill and teamwork involved.
RESULTS: Men’s final - 1, Ilfracombe; 2, Swanage; 3, Bude. Ladies’ final - 1, Swanage; 2, Lyme Regis; 3, Appledore Barbarians (Appledore/Boscastle/Clevedon mix). Mixed final – 1, Clevedon; 2, Ilfracombe; 3, Bude.