Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club back in action

North Devon Gazette

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club held a series of inter-club races on the Taw last Sunday, taking advantage of the spring tide that evening.

The boats were launched from their new premises on Rolle's Quay and rowed out to Castle Quay where the race control was established, and the race course started adjacent to Queen Anne's statue on The Strand.

From there the boats raced out to the New Bridge, through the northern archway, round a buoy and back through the middle arch following a marked route back to the starting line, which was also the finishing line. It meant a total course length of two kilometres, so a sprint course in reality.

The club followed Covid-19 precautions as recommended by British Rowing, and these allowed for good competitive rowing between the Ladies crew bubbles and then the Men's crew bubbles.Â

Previous pandemic precautions had suspended Pilot Gig Boat racing regattas, none of which have taken place since March 2020, however the recent relaxations do allow those that are willing to restart holding regattas, and the first of these has been arranged by the Paignton club for Saturday August 7.

The Barum club is planning to enter Ladies and Men's crews in this regatta, rowing the club boat Nipper, so the meeting last Sunday was a good refresher for those involved.

After the races the boats, crews and spectators retired to the club's new premises on Rolle's Quay, which have been refurbished from a derelict 19th century warehouse over the last two years by club members. The work on the ground floor boathouse and boat yard is substantially complete, so those attending were treated to a barbeque in this area after the boats and equipment was stored away.

The building also has a first floor which is being converted into a public meeting area that will eventually have an accessible toilet, kitchen and meeting room large enough for 100 people. Building works are almost complete, but lack of funds is delaying the finishing touches to this area, so the club has restarted it's fundraising campaign for the building. This kicked off with a bingo night, hosted by the rugby club, and there will be further events in the near future.

Club chairman Kevin Ward said:Â "It was a magnificent effort by all concerned to see the club boats racing on the Taw once more, and I was heartened to see so many club members remaining faithful to the club after such a prolonged period of restrictions.Â

"Our new premises are proving to be a great asset for the club and I look forward to us going from strength to strength."

Further information about club activities are available at