Portishead Pilot Gig Club kicked off the 2019 gig racing season at the annual “Three Rivers” race in Cornwall on Saturday 2nd March. The six mile endurance event saw 160 crews row through the Tamar, Tavy and Lynher rivers and underneath Brunel’s iconic Tamar Bridge. The weather conditions were challenging with crews facing strong winds and tidal currents during the hour long race.
This event was the first opportunity to race BlackNore, the club’s recently acquired wooden Cornish pilot racing gig. Both Portishead Men’s and Ladies crews started in heat 6 at the back of the pack. After strong starts, both crews made gains as they made their way to the first buoy, however it was during the second, much more challenging stretch of the row, with both the tide and wind against them, Portishead came into their own and made huge gains passing many other clubs as they struggled against the wind. The Men’s crew finished 37th out of 74 and Ladies very close behind finishing 38th out of 76.
Club Secretary, Debbie Cogley said “We’re thrilled with these results given the club was only established at the end of 2017 and this was the first endurance race for many of our new members”.
Cornish pilot gig racing is one of the most popular and fastest growing water sports in the country. Pilot Gigs are 32ft, wooden, six-oared rowing boats, traditionally used for pilotage, harbour work and as lifeboats. Portishead’s Gig Club was established in October 2017 and has since grown to over 60 members with three pilot gigs, two for training and one for racing.
There are over 8,000 active gig rowers competing throughout the year at regattas along the UK’s coastline, culminating in at the annual World Pilot Gig Rowing Championships on the Isles of Scilly in May.