My gig rowing story… Tommy

Your Committee has been working on a project over the last six months to bring together all information pertinent to the club (from its organisation, the ‘types’ of rowing we offer, training, selection, and policies on our equipment) in the form of a Welcome Pack for new members, and a guide for rowing. Thank you to everyone who has helped with it. As part of this project, I have collected a series of “my gig rowing stories” from a selection of members in the club, hopefully capturing different types of rowers, from out-and-out racers, to the very beginners. The Welcome Pack is almost there (delayed as yours truly was hospitalised and has been in recovery), but I thought I’d share the stories in a series of features on the website.

We start the series with our current chairman, Tommy:

I’m currently in my 7th year of rowing. It all started while I was studying for my masters degree at Falmouth Uni. A friend of mine roped me in and, having always been pretty sporty and keen to try new things, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I joined FMPGC out of chance. Since then the club has become a huge part of my life and through it I’ve met some of my closest friends. We moved to Cornwall 8 years ago, not knowing anyone, being part of the club has given Polly and I an amazing group of friends. One of the highlights was the two-gig escort we had as we sailed up Mylor Creek from the church on our wedding day. It’s a wonderful club, full of great people, top facilities and brilliant coaches.

I’m definitely a racing rower. Pretty much from day one I’ve wanted to compete. I struggle not to want to race even when training!

I enjoy so many things about gig rowing. The clunk of six oars in unison, the splash of the catch, the run of water under the boat, the history, the heritage, the characters, the competition, the challenge to make each stroke better than the next, the delicate balance between power and grace, crisp cold winter mornings as the sun peeks over the Roseland, long hazy summer evenings with a dip in the sea after rowing, the laughter, going places mentally and physically I never thought I’d go to…and then surpassing them again, leaving everything in the boat, being part of this wonderful, mad, fiercely competitive group of people…I could go own. You don’t row for 7 years without loving in. It’s an all-consuming sport, with highs and lows, yet within rowing there are moments of pure beauty.

The challenge about rowing is organising rowers – splitting the atom would be easier.

I have learned so much and more through gig rowing. The best thing about rowing is to never stop learning. I’ve learnt that 90% of pain is in the mind and it’s possible to go further even when you’re convinced you’ve got nothing left. I’ve learnt to love early mornings! I’ve learnt what sacrifice means and what it takes to reach the top levels of a sport.

My first goal was to race, then to row at Newquay, then to row at Scilly…I managed those all within my first year. My goal now is to row in a crew that beats the club record for highest placed men’s crew in Scilly.




Our regatta

Thanks to all those clubs who attended our regatta last weekend.

The weather didn’t do us any favours but, despite that, we valiantly went ahead and some great sprint racing was had by all, along the stretch of water between Flushing Sailing Club and Kiln Quay.

This message from our Chairman, Tommy:

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much to everyone involved in making yesterday such a successful day for the club. The weather was horrible but it certainly didn’t dampen spirits.
We had cooks, bakers, rowers, coxes, tent-putter-uppers, boat lifters, the best beach marshals ever, a brilliant race team of starters, finishers, umpires and safety boats, and everyone who gave up their Sunday to spend the best part of 8 hours in the rain to make the event happen. It’s a testament to a great club spirit and a wonderful community.
Special thanks to Frances and Rodney for doing all the hard work in making it happen, Frances’ army of cooks and helpers, Jules for coordinating all the chopping and changing of race entries, Tim Coventry for sitting on the edge of the quay in the teeth of a gale for most of the day and Penny for her brilliant umpiring.
It’s the first time we’ve run an event in that format and we definitely learnt a lot of lessons so next year we can do something even better.
The results were:
Ladies Open Winners: FMPGC A (as Bristol had to withdraw from the final)
Mens Open Winners: Caradon/Looe
Ladies Plate Winners: Falmouth
Mens Plate Winners: Penryn



Crews attend Falmouth Sprints

The club attended Falmouth’s sprint regatta. It was a fantastically sunny day (unlike our own regatta the day after!)

Two ladies crews and one men’s took part.

Ladies A, with a couple of replacement rowers in place of their previous Scilly lineup included Mel Williams and Kirsty Anthony-Johns. Finishing first in their opening heat, they then came second in their semi-final and 4th in the final. A heroic achievement due to Mel feeling very unwell going into the last race.


Ladies B, made from a scratch crew of various rowers, went through to the semi-finals but dropped out at that point. Great racing girls.

Men’s A had an emergency situation earlier in the day which meant Tommy Tonkins had to drop out at the last minute. With a guest appearance from long-time club member Paul Dale (he hasn’t rowed in a while!) he  managed to replace Tommy with his son Isaac, who is arguably much more boat fit than his Dad but is however only 12 years old.  Isaac performed magnificently and the crew got through to the semi-finals as well.





Photos below: Isaac and Paul Dale. The Men’s A Crew