Administrator, Author at Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club

Clovelly Regatta 27th August 2022

Saturday 27th August was a Bank holiday weekend and also the date of this year’s Pilot Gig Boat regatta in the picturesque village of Clovelly. Barnstaple Pilot Gig club joined eight other clubs from around the West Country for a glorious day of inter-club races, enjoying calm seas, blue skies and the charming surroundings.

The boats were delivered to the top car park on the previous day, and Clovelly club members towed them down the steep service road that evening to park them on the beach ready for the racing on Saturday. The regatta started with the Vets and Supervets races, with Barum’s Supervet Men’s crew achieving a very creditable fourth place. This was followed by the B crew races and Lady Freda came in fourth with the Ladies crew and third with the Men’s crew. The Junior and mixed master’s races followed, for which BPGC did not enter crews, then the much-anticipated A crew races after that. In the Men’s A race Appledore were the clear winners, but Barum and Boscastle fought hard against each other all the way round, with Boscastle in Pentargon just taking second place at the very end from Lady Freda in third place.
The final race of the day was a Barbarian race, with individuals from different clubs making up crews for each boat. Much to the delight of BPGC members Lady Freda came in second, and as a reward this was the second boat to be carried off the beach and through the tunnel beside the Red Lion for loading on to the club trailer and towing back up to the top car park.

This was the first regatta organised by Clovelly since prior to the pandemic, and all taking part enjoyed the camaraderie and pleasure from meeting each other again and sharing the beautiful surroundings.

Write up: David Dixon

Photo: Natalie Pinto

Brixham Regatta 20th August 2022

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club members attended the Brixham Pilot Gig Club regatta weekend on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st August, when a total of 16 clubs and 18 Pilot Gig Boats competed in a series of 12 races on the Saturday, and veteran and super veteran crews competed in a knock-out competition on the Sunday.
The Saturday races took place on a kite-shaped course approximately 2.6 kilometres long, with three buoy turns before the long dash for the finishing line. The highlight for Barnstaple was in the Men’s A race when the Barum crew had a powerful start and were one of the first crews to reach the first buoy turn. Up to this point sea conditions were relatively benign, however after the buoy turn the water became choppy and slowed down progress, enabling other crews to stay in contention. After the third buoy turn Lady Freda (Barum) and Goose (Porlock Weir) were in fierce competition to take the lead, and as they crossed the finishing line it showed on the finishing Judge’s video that Goose was ahead by about 600 millimetres.
Other crew positions were:
Ladies B 11th, Ladies C 4th, Men’s B 6th, Men’s C 3rd, Men’s supervets 4th

At the end of the day the overall position for Lady Freda was sixth out of eighteen boats competing.

Write up: David Dixon

Photo credit: Heidi Clark/Natalie Pinto

Winning ladies crew

Local Gig Clubs Two Bridges Race 12th August 2022

Pilot Gig Boat clubs from Appledore, Barnstaple, Bude and Ilfracombe took part in the annual Two Bridges races last Friday between Bideford new bridge and Barnstaple new bridge. This event took place annually until the 2020 pandemic, so Friday’s race was the first Two Bridges race since then.

The Men’s crews set off first, lining up at Bideford new bridge for the start against the incoming tide and a light breeze. Appledore’s boat Verbena lead almost from the start ahead of Ilfracombe’s Raparee, followed by Barnstaple’s Nipper and Bude’s Bedehaven, rowing up to Crow point to turn into the Taw. From this point all crews benefitted from the incoming tide all the way past Yelland Jetty, Chivenor, Fremington Quay and Ashford to the finishing line at Barnstaple new bridge. Appledore Men took the honours with a time of 1.08.03 for the 9-mile distance, Ilfracombe 1.13.32, Barnstaple 1.18.02, and Bude 1.20.00.

With the exception of the Ilfracombe crew the exhausted men disembarked at Castle Quay to change places with the Ladies crews waiting there. Ilfracombe did not have a Ladies crew, so Raparee’s crew rowed back to Appledore in their own time before the Ladies race started.

The three Ladies boats lined up on the west side of Barnstaple new bridge for a proper racing start. Appledore took off rapidly and gained about a boat length on Barnstaple, closely followed by Bude. There then followed an exciting cat-and-mouse chase between the Appledore and Barnstaple crews, where the two boats exchanged lead position several times between the start and Chivenor. From that point on the Barnstaple boat gradually increased the lead until it was some six boat lengths ahead of Verbena as the race passed Yelland Jetty.

As the sun set on the horizon the three boats chased across the Torridge river from Crow Point to the Anchor slipway at Appledore, creating a captivating image silhouetted against the magnificent sunset. On reaching the finishing line first the jubilant Barnstaple ladies raised their oars in the air to honour the other crews as they crossed the line. Finishing times for this race were: Barnstaple 52:50, Appledore 53:35, and Bude 56:25.

Photo credit – Mike Matthews
Barnstaple’s winning Ladies crew – Jan Hunter (stroke), Roz Brooks, Kelly Baker, Tracy Torr, Jackie Spear and Jane Robson Curle.

Winning ladies crew

New Water Sports Centre for Barnstaple

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club Chairman Kevin Ward is pleased to announce that the Club has now completed (as of 3rd July) the purchase of the The Warehouse on Rolle’s Quay for use as a Water Sports Centre and communal meeting place for the people of Barnstaple and surrounding areas. The Club has been engaged in an active fund-raising drive since November 2017 and has managed to raise £200,000 in that time to complete the purchase. Expressions of interest in using the building have already been received from North Devon Scouts, the W I, Bideford canoe club, University of the Third Age, Petroc, Morris Dancers, West Buckland School, and two Surf Life Saving clubs.

Kevin said ” We are immensely grateful to all of the club members and the people of Barnstaple who have supported our own fund-raising efforts, managing to raise more than £30,000 in the past year and a half. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the grant funders who responded so well to our proposed project, to raise the balance of the funds needed. The largest grant was £75,000 from Sport England, and the next largest £49,850 from the Fullabrook Wind Farm Community Interest Company. Other grant funders included the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation (£30,000), Garfield Weston (£15,000), Bernard Sunley (£10,000), Investors in Devon (£1,500), and Barnstaple Town Council (£500).
The next step for us is to complete the necessary renovation works to the building to make it useable as a boathouse, workshop and meeting room, with a target date of 24th February 2020 for completion – this being the tenth anniversary of the formation of Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club. I am confident on past performance that the club members and the people of Barnstaple will rally round to ensure that we achieve this target, and the club will go from strength to strength.”

To celebrate the completion of the purchase, the club arranged a river outing on Sunday, with all four boats leaving Castle Quay in Barnstaple to row to Fremington Quay. Thirty club members made up mixed crews for the row, and all disembarked at Fremington Quay to enjoy refreshments at the cafe. The boats then rowed back to Castle Quay and, after the boats were returned to the temporary yard in Mill Road, the club members were shown around the new premises on Rolle’s Quay.

Coincidentally, during a training row on the previous day club members on a training row were able to assist the owner of a ‘houseboat’ that had come adrift on the Taw and was grounded on the north bank near Ashford. The gig boat Barum Bobby, rowed by a social crew, later replaced by a men’s racing crew, towed the stranded craft for almost a mile upriver to a safer location.

1813_T_03 B – Proposed Elevations E + W

1813_T_02 B – Proposed Elevations N + S

Big Weekend for Gig Rowers

The Gig rowing community enjoyed a full weekend of sport across the South West last weekend, with regattas taking place at Ilfracombe, Boscastle, Rock, Exmouth and St Ives. North Devon Clubs were well represented with Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club at Boscastle regatta on Saturday and Rock on Sunday, Torridge gig club at Ilfracombe on Saturday and Rock on Sunday, Bideford gig club attended Exmouth regatta on Saturday, and Appledore and Ilfracombe gig clubs were at Ilfracombe regatta also on Saturday.

Boscastle regatta on Saturday continued despite the early fog that shrouded the harbour in the morning, but which fortunately lifted enough for the racing to commence in the afternoon. The home club (Boscastle and Crackington Haven) were well adapted to the almost unique conditions on the race course that circumnavigated Meachard Island, with a final buoy turn for a homeward dash to the finish line at the harbour entrance. They came first in every category to take the overall trophy for the day. Barnstaple came 2nd in the Ladies B, 4th in the Men’s B, 3rd in the Ladies A, 4th in the Men’s A, and 4th in both the Ladies and Men’s Veteran races. The home club then entertained the visitors to a garden party in the magnificent setting of Boscastle Harbour, enjoyed by all.

Rock regatta was held on Sunday at Daymer Bay and it attracted 27 boats to take part, including Nipper from Barnstaple and Will to Win from Torridge. Many of the Barnstaple rowers had also rowed at Boscastle the previous day, so they all took part in five separate races over the weekend. The conditions at Daymer Bay were good, with only a slight swell and light winds, in contrast to the ‘Bibbly-Bobbly’ conditions the previous day at Boscastle. Friendly rivalry took place between Torridge and Barnstaple in the different races during the day, culminating in a determined row by Barnstaple Ladies in the A race chasing Torridge ladies all the way to the finishing line. The Torridge crew prevailed to cross the line one boat length ahead of Barnstaple. The beautiful beach and river views at Daymer Bay were a fine setting for this regatta, much enjoyed by all who attended.

1 Men’s B crews at Rock regatta, Torridge followed by Barnstaple then Bude.
2 Gig boats in Boscastle harbour preparing to race.

Indoor Rowing Championships, St Austell

The Barum Club also sent a contingent of rowers to take part in the Cornish Pilot Gig Association indoor rowing championships on Saturday at St Austell’s Brewery.  This was attended by clubs from all over the South West, with almost 200 competitors and more than 20 separate competitions.  Notable results for the Barum club were the first and second places won by Alan Pidner and Mickey Fry respectively in the Men’s 60 to 69 category 2000 metre race, and the third place won by the mixed relay 3000 metre race team (Megan Clarke, Jo Walter, Chris Walter and Andy Kearsey).  Graeme Clarke also achieved joint tenth in the Men’s 50 to 59 group 2000 metre race.
Graeme Clarke preparing for his race.

Dragon Boat Challenge-February 2019

Dragon Boat Challenge – February 2019
Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club finished one of their busiest weeks ever on Sunday with their third Dragon Boat Festival on the Taw in Barnstaple.  Full advantage was taken of the Spring-like weather and high spring tides when the nine competing crews gathered at Castle Quay early on Sunday morning, and the first race got underway at 8.45am.
The visiting Bude Pilot Gig Boat club kindly loaned their gig ‘Barrel Rock’ to race alongside Barum’s ‘Phillipa J’ and ‘Barum Bobby’ in a series of seven races from the swing bridge over the Yeo to the finish line opposite Tea on the Taw. The boats were adorned with Dragon Heads on the bow, and each had 12 paddlers for crew and a Barum helmsman.  Crews came from Lyme Regis Gig Club, Bude Gig Club, Exe-Calibre Dragon Boat Club, Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving Club, Fremington Trailblazers (3 crews), Parker Hannifin in Barnstaple, and Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club.
Each crew raced in one of the first three races against two other crews, and the third-placed crews from those races raced each other in race 4. The second-placed crews raced in race 5, and the first-placed crews raced in race 6 to determine the overall winner. Finally the second-placed crews from races 5 and 6 raced each other in race 7 to determine second and third places overall.
The final placings were:
1st  Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving Club
2nd   Lyme Regis Gig Club
3rd   Exe-Calibre Dragon Boat Club
Phillipa J and Barum Bobby racing each other.

North Coast Gig League – Race 2, 16th February

Nine Gig Boat clubs travelled to Appledore last Saturday to take part in the second round of the North Coast Gig League. Many of the clubs use this league to try out new crews and to introduce new rowers to gig boat racing, so it was well attended with no room left in the car park by 10.30 in the morning. The start line was beyond Yelland Quay in the river Taw, and the boats raced back to the finishing line at Appledore Quay.

The weather was fair and sea conditions good as the first race (Ladies B) set off for the start line, pulling against a strong incoming tide. This meant the crews were well warmed up before the race back, won by Bristol. Bristol went on to win the Men’s A and B races, and the Ladies and Men’s Veteran races, and the Men’s A was won by Appledore. Appledore also went on to win the Supervets races for both Ladies and Men.

Bristol Pilot Gig Club have presented strong crews at both NCGL meetings this year, indicating their determination to get good results in the World Championships in the Scilly Isles in May.

David Dixon
Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club CIO
Charity reg no. 1172955

1 Boats on Appledore slipway

North Devon Coast League- Saturday 26th January

The gig racing season got under way on Saturday 26th February, with ten boats from nine different clubs descending on the Churchfields car park at Appledore during the early hours of the morning. Many rowers travelled a long way for the first gig boat racing regatta in 2019 for the North Coast clubs. Sea conditions were calm with light winds initially, although wind speeds did pick up for the later races.

The Ladies B crews set off against a strong incoming tide on the kite shaped course, with Bristol laying down a marker with a comfortable win, setting a trend for the rest of the meeting. The Bristol club went on to win Men's B, Men's A, Ladies Vets and Men's Vets. Only Appledore were able to break Bristol's dominance with a first place in the Ladies A race and second places in the Men's A and Men's Vets races.

The Super Vet races in contrast were dominated by Appledore with first places in both Mens and Ladies, and Bristol had no Super Vet crews to enter.



Ladies Team

Men's Tean

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