The CPGA asks us to set our annual regatta date in the autumn, and we tie our event into Falmouth’s, so that visiting clubs might make a weekend of if. Little did the old committee realise what a terrible date they’d picked – there was hardly any water due to spring tides! Not great for the traditional sprint races between the two quays in Flushing.
With a lot of beach and not much water this had our Chair, Dave Matthews thinking. Why not do something that celebrates the heritage of the Cornish Pilot Gig, and have crews competing to be the first one to get their pilot to collect ‘orders’?
Crews racing to get their pilot back to the beach…
On Sunday 25th June we held the regatta. With such little water, we had to make it an invitation only event, and were delighted to welcome a handful of clubs. The race format was a “Le Mans” racing start, with crews/pilot running down the beach to their waiting gig, with Cox in place. They then had to back up and round a buoy, causing much shouting and competion for water. The gigs then raced out to the waiting ship, BOB, positoned off Trefusis Point. They had to round the ship clockwise and then race back to shore to put their pilot back on shore. It was as much a test of coxing skills as the power of the rowers.
Our Ladies C dressed up as fairies for their race…
Of course there was another demand – clubs needed to be in fancy dress (of course!), with the pilot having to wear (and return) a tricorn hat. Club secretary Julia Webb-Harvey said, “We wanted to celebrate the heritage of the Cornish Pilot gigs, and inject some fun into the gig racing calendar, echoing the ethos of our club. It was a battle for water off the line, and you had the real sense of what the competition might have been like to get your pilot to the waiting ship back in the day,” she added, “Lyme Regis had most of the glory in the results, but there were no real losers on the day as everyone left beaming.”
In fact, the thanks poured in from all clubs, saying that it was such a fun day, and a contrast to the more serious sprints the previous day. All have asked to be invited next year… so it looks like we have a new format in the gig racing calendar. If we want to invite more clubs next year, we’re going to need a bigger beach!
Bristol’s Old Luggers heading out to the waiting ship…
Thanks go to all club members who stepped up to make the event a success – this includes our beach marshalls, time keepers, event planners/executers, boat providers, safety boat… and especially to the catering crew, who put on a splendid spread, surely reason enough alone to return in 2018.
Photograph credits: Ria Sands.