Administrator, Author at Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club - Page 2 of 3

Gig Club visits Dorset

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club (BPGC) took their boat Lady Freda and 15 rowers on Saturday 25th to the Gig Boat regatta at Lyme Regis. All 12 gig clubs at the regatta enjoyed a sunny late-summer’s day with fairly calm seas and light winds, competing a kite-shaped course in full view of the crowds assembled on the famous Cobb breakwater.

There was a full programme of thirteen races for the day, but the Barum club could only compete in six of these races because of limited availability of club members on a Public Holiday weekend. Every club member there competed in at least two races, most in three races, enjoying the friendly rivalry and the sunny weather.

This regatta completed perhaps the busiest month yet for BPGC. On Sunday 6th August the club held a Duck Race and Car Boot Sale at Barnstaple and Pilton Cricket Club, raising more than £1050 towards their ‘Off the R’owd’ appeal for a Watersports Centre at Rolle Quay. This was followed by the annual Estuary Race between north coast clubs at Appledore on Wednesday 8th August, then Paignton Gig Boat regatta on Sunday 12th, competing with clubs from as far afield as Essex as well as clubs from Devon and Cornwall. The next Gig Boat regatta attended was Porthleven, on Saturday 18th, where the Barum club competed against 20 other mainly Cornish clubs, winning 14th position overall. Many club members stayed for the whole weekend to enjoy the area and the entertainment provided on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the RNLI Lifeboat festival on the Sunday.

As well as attending these four competitions, normal training sessions continued on weekday evenings and weekends throughout the month, also sessions every Monday and Thursday evening at Ilfracombe. The racing boats Lady Freda and Nipper were towed to Ilfracombe harbour for sea-rowing practise and the Barum club is indebted to Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Club for the assistance and advice freely offered on those occasions.

The club is now looking forward to the County Championships at Newquay, 2nd September for the Ladies crews, and 15th September for the men.


1000 Ducks at the Cricket Club

The Cricket Ground at Lower Raleigh played host to a Duck Race and Car Boot sale on Sunday, organised by Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club as part of their fund-raising effort to establish a Watersports centre on Rolle’s Quay.  It was a gloriously sunny day and, since no cricket was being played the event took place on the outfield around the cricket pitch.  This was a particularly suitable venue since both the cricket club and the Pilot Gig Club have received considerable assistance from the Keith Noel Abrahams charitable trust in the past.

The Duck Race was along a stretch of the River Yeo that skirts the boundary of the cricket fields.  It began just after 12 noon when the barrel containing the ducks was upended into the river by two duck ‘herders’ wearing waders, who followed the flock of plastic ducks down the river to the finishing line.  They intended to free any ducks tangled in the undergrowth, but were caught by surprise when some started to drift upstream, much to the amusement of the watching crowd. The recalcitrant ducks were herded in the right direction and followed down to the finishing line some thirty minutes later.  This section had some deep pools which caught the ‘herders’ by surprise, but fortunately no one fell in.  The winning ducks were greeted by cheers and loud applause as they were swept into the net by the increasing current.

The day was an overall success for the Gig Club, raising in excess of £1100.00 towards their ‘Off the R’owd’ appeal from the sale of ducks, barbeque food and cake stall, and the Car Boot sale.

Barum gig boats at Green Man Day and Torridge Regatta on the same day

Barum gig boats at Green Man Day and Torridge Regatta on the same day

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club (BPGC) had their two racing boats (Nipper and Lady Freda) on display on Saturday –‘ Nipper’ on Pilton High Street for Green Man Day, and ‘Lady Freda’ racing at Appledore in Torridge Gig Club’s annual regatta.


The Barum club has always supported Green Man Day, and this year they had a ‘Whack-a-Mackerel’ competition that was enjoyed by many passers-by. Tickets were also sold for ducks to be entered into the Duck Race and Car Boot Sale being held at Barnstaple Cricket Club on Sunday 5th August. All proceeds will go towards the ‘Off the R’owd’ appeal, raising funds for a Watersports Centre on Rolle Quay.

Club Chairman Kevin Ward said: “We are grateful to all who showed an interest in our club and our ambitions for the future. We are a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, run entirely by unpaid volunteers, to provide opportunities for all to take part in the fast-growing sport of Cornish Pilot Gig Boat racing. We also wish to represent Barum by competing with other clubs from the South West and beyond, and to help with the regeneration of the waterfronts in Barnstaple with our proposed new Watersports Centre.”

On the same day BPGC entered seven crews into Torridge Pilot gig Club’s annual regatta at Appledore. Conditions were excellent for rowing, with light winds and calm waters over the triangular course starting near Churchfield slipway and finishing opposite the Seagate Hotel.

The first event (Ladies B race) provided an upset straightaway when the Barum boat was blown by the light winds onto the start line marker buoy seconds before the start. The buoy mooring line became entangled on the rudder, and the boat started off dragging the buoy. The boat stopped and the cox almost disappeared over the stern to free the rudder, after which the ladies bravely set off in pursuit of the rest of the pack. Although they managed to close the gap, the others had too much of a lead, and the race was won by Torridge’s Kerens, which also won the Men’s B race next.


The Veteran crews took to the start line next, the Ladies race again won by Kerens, and the Men’s race by Rogue from Ilfracombe. Mixed and Novice crews raced next, won by Whitford (Appledore) and Kerens respectively. The under 14 race went to Whitford, as did the Ladies A, Men’s A and the Decade races that followed. The Decade race required each of the six crew members to have been born in a different decade, so the youngest had to be under 20 years old and the oldest over 60 years old. This proved to be the strongest race for Barum when their crew came in second ahead of Rogue and Kerens.

Fullabrook CIC Support new Watersports Centre in Barnstaple

Fullabrook CIC announced on Wednesday that they are happy to support Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club’s application for funds towards the cost of purchasing the warehouse on Rolle Quay adjacent to the Sea Cadets compound, for use as a Watersports Centre.  Fullabrook CIC have pledged £34,000, which, when added to funds already raised, exceeds 25% of the purchase price.

Barnstaple Pilot Club intend to refurbish the building for use as a boathouse and equipment store on the ground floor level, and as a spacious club room on the first floor level.  The latter will be made available to any other organisation needing a meeting place in central Barnstaple as needed.

Planning permission has already been obtained for change of use, and initial drawings prepared by Peregrine Mear’s Architectural practise for refurbishing the building, including proper access for the disabled, new toilet facilities and a spectacular hall on the first floor level.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club have a number of fund-raising events coming up in the near future which the people of Barnstaple and surrounding areas may well like to join in and support.  These include:

5th August                  Duck Race and Car Boot sale at Barnstaple Cricket Club.  The Duck Race will be on the River Yeo along the Cricket Club boundary, starting at 12.00 noon on the day, and ducks can be bought for £1 each.  First prize will be £50, 2nd prize a voucher from TK MAX for £30, and third prize is lunch for two at Green Lanes Café. The Car Boot sale will start at 9.00am for sellers (£5 per pitch) and 10.00am for buyers.  There will also be a raffle and cake stall, and there will be a bar and food at the Cricket Club house.  Contact Steve on 07599 771090 to book a pitch.

15th September           BPGC’s second Dragon Boat Racing festival – contact David Dixon ([email protected]).

30th September          Six club members rowing the Marathon distance on rowing machines in Rock Park while Barnstaple Marathon is underway.

22nd September            Pirate Gig Nipper is entered into Barnstaple carnival.

5th October                    Autumn Ball at the Queen Anne Café

18th October                   A Quiz night and meal at Queen Anne Café

Club chairman Kevin Ward said “We are very grateful to Fullabrook CIC for choosing to support our project, this is just the encouragement we need to go on and achieve our Club ambitions.  Our members have already worked hard to get where we are today, well supported by the residents of Barnstaple and the surrounding area.”

North Devon Hospice Float Bye

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club took their two racing gigs, Lady Freda and Nipper, to escort the flower-decked raft towed out from Instow beach at the culmination of the Float Bye ceremony on Sunday evening, in memory of loved ones and organised by North Devon Hospice.
The raft was towed by a gig boat from Torridge Pilot Gig Club, and Lady Freda and Nipper were on either side as it was slowly taken across the estuary past the moored lifeboat at Appledore. From the beach at Instow it was a spectacular sight as the raft disappeared into the amazing sunset that evening.

The ceremony on the beach.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club ‘Off the Row’d appeal’ – Rowathon

Barum Gig Club are making 2018 their “Off the Row’d” year in an effort to fund the creation of a Watersports Centre that Barnstaple can be proud of.
By the kind permission of Tesco, the latest fund-raising project is a Rowathon at the store near Barnstaple railway station on Saturday 17th February from 10.00am to 10.00pm, and Sunday 18th February from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Proceeds from this event will be shared equally between Childrens Hospice South West and the Barum Club’s Off the Row’d appeal to fund a new Watersports Centre for Barnstaple.
During the weekend club member Graeme Clarke will be attempting to row a Marathon distance (26.2 miles) in less than three hours, supported by other club members who will demonstrate continuous rowing on the Club’s Ergo Rowing machines. In addition the new Ergo Sliders financed by Community Fund grants provided by Councillors Brian Greenslade and Mair Manuel will be on show. The Sliders have been a boon to the Club, giving a much more realistic rowing experience, and the Junior rowers particularly have benefitted. A collection will be made on the day, and Club members will be on hand to talk about the Hospice and future club activities.


BPGC attended the regatta today at Appledore, rowing in Phillipa J. Barum Bobby was also there on loan to Portishead gig boat club. BPGC were only able to field 13 rowers, to form a Mens B Crew, a Ladies B crew and a Mens Veteran crew, so only competed in these three races.
The ladies B crew were first away and gave a great performance to cross the line fourth in a fleet of ten boats, reflecting well on the training they have undertaken recently. The Men’s B crew suffered a broken pin just after the start, and a side-on collision on a buoy turn, but put on a great spurt on the home leg to gain four boat lengths on the gig boat in front of them and pass it just before the finish. There final position was 8th across the line. The Men’s Vets crew performed well around the whole course to come in fourth place at the end.
Portishead are a brand new club and this was their first regatta. They were well supported and enjoyed the experience, despite the cold and wet conditions. They kindly donated £40 towards the Fuller fund as a mark of gratitude for the loan of Barum Bobby, and they also purchased from us the black set of oars that we no longer use.

Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Regatta 2017

Pilot Gig Boat Clubs from as far afield as Bristol and Lyme Regis Joined the North Devon Clubs to take part in the regatta on Saturday. The glorious weather and the calm seas facilitated excellent rowing conditions and a series of hard-fought races around the kite-shaped course marked by buoys clearly visible by the watching crowds from Ilfracombe pier and vantage points on the Capstone and Lantern hill. The different clubs established a colourful temporary village on the beach next to the Lifeboat slipway, with shelters erected for rowing bags and equipment storage for the day. In addition Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Club ran a popular cake, burger and tea and coffee stall on the pier, which was well patronised throughout the day.
Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club showed the benefit of another year’s training, with most crews staying up with the pack right up to the finishing line; the BPGC Ladies Vets crew gained the best result of the day for the club with a second place in their race, behind the Ilfracombe crew.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club annual awards evening

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Boat Club held their annual awards evening on Sunday 10th January at the Rolle Quay Pub, immediately following on from a rowing training weekend at Appledore. Club members were pleased to be joined for the evening by Councillor John Mathews, Councillor Ian Roome, Peter Woodhams (Landlord at the Rolle Quay Pub), and the Club President Keith Abrahams, all of whom are ardent supporters of the Club and donators of some of the trophies awarded .
Tony Layton (club chairman) and Chris Walter (vice chairman) briefly ran through the highlights of the 2015 rowing season before asking the guests to present their trophies to the club members nominated to receive them. These were as follows:

Junior section

Boy rower of the year – George Black
Girl rower of the year – Ellie Stephenson
Junior newcomer of the year- Rebecca Moody
Junior member who has contributed most to the club – Ellie Ward


Male rower of the year – Simon Hebbard
Female rower of the year – Kelly Baker
Newcomer of the year – Dawn Buchanan
Adult member who has contributed most to the club – Jo Walter

Tony Layton commented on the wonderful spirit within the Club, as shown by the wide range of nominations for the ‘member who has contributed most to the club’, and the approaching competitive rowing season is looked upon as an opportunity for both the junior and adult sections to build on past successes.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club at the World Championships

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club sent 27 rowers to take part in the World Championships in the Sicily Isles for the Bank Holiday weekend and a number of supporters attended as well.
The first event was the Supervet races on the Friday and, as a tribute to David Butt, Barum rowers wore black armbands during the race. David was a good friend to the Club and he gave a great deal of assistance during its formation. In addition many Club members knew David personally and were sorry not to be able to attend his funeral that day.
Racing conditions were difficult for the Barum rowers, with strong winds whipping up confusing wave patterns, but both the Ladies and Men’s crews improved on last year’s performance in the Supervets races, the Ladies placed 17th out of 25, and the Men 24th out of 32.
The two boats Nipper and Lady Freda were used by both the Ladies and Men’s crews on Saturday and Sunday for the remainder of the Championships, and some Barum rowers helped other North Devon Clubs by filling vacant positions for some of the races.
The Ladies crew in Lady Freda were featured on BBC’s Spotlight programme when they were involved in a spectacular collision during their final race. The Barum crew had led their group nearly all of the way to the finish line in St. Mary’s harbour when a boat behind them collided at speed on the stern quarter; this knocked Lady Freda into the path of another boat which struck the bow quarter just as the other boat’s rowers were sweeping their oars back. The Barum rowers took avoiding action but one of the ladies received a heavy blow on the arm and ended up on the floorboards. In the meantime, Ilfracombe’s ladies in Rogue were pulling up rapidly on the outside and crossed the line first, while the three boats involved in the collision drifted past the line. Lady Freda was awarded third place, but North Devon’s honour was upheld by the Ilfracombe boat.

The final 2016 positions were (2015 results in brackets):
Ladies – ‘Nipper’ crew 87 (84); ‘Lady Freda’ crew 99 (111)
Men – ‘Nipper’ crew 120 (107); ‘Lady Freda’ crew 110 (137)

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