Saturday the 21st of March saw Bristol Gig Club host the Bristol River Challenge, a row from Portishead to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, taking in some spectacular views of the Avon Gorge along the way. The fantastic weather that had been around all week continued through until the Saturday, and at Portishead Marina it felt more like August than late March.
Nine gigs took part in the race in total, with six crews competing for the men’s trophy, two for the mixed, and a solitary women’s crew from Torridge. Quite a crowd had gathered at the marina to see the gigs lock out, and everyone was in good spirits as the lock gates opened out to the estuary.
Due to the narrow entrance to the Avon, the field was split in two to give the gigs a but more space on the river, and the majority of the men’s fleet went off first, with the strong tide and light breeze helping them towards the river mouth. The second division started shortly after with mixed crews from Bristol and Rock, two men’s crews from Salcombe and Illfracombe, and the ladies crew from Torridge.
The Bristol men’s crew in Young Bristol led from the start, intent on gaining the advantage of getting to the river mouth first as they strived to defend their title from the last Bristol River Challenge. With plenty of support from spectator boats as well as from onlookers alongside the river, Young Bristol stroked into a commanding lead as the crew kept up a relentless pace. In the second division the Bristol mixed crew battled with Illfracombe and Salcombe right from the start as the three gigs jostled for position on the approach to river mouth. In the end it was Bristol mixed crew rowing in the Isambard that gained the advantage though it remained pretty close between the three crews.
A beautiful sunny day, the Avon Gorge provided a stunning backdrop for the competing gigs rowing up the river, and the Bristol men’s crew came under the Clifton Suspension Bridge in a winning time of 1hr 47seconds. Bristol’s mixed crew managed to hold off the competition in the second division, winning the mixed category, and the Torridge ladies managed a respectable time picking up the women’s trophy.
1 – Young Bristol Men 1hr 00m 47seconds
2 – Bedhaven Men 1hr 03m 14seconds
3 – Ella Rose Men 1hr 4m 3 seconds
4 – Wolf Men 1hr 4m 10seconds
5 – Isambard Mixed – 1hr 4m 34 seconds
6 – Rapparee Men – 1hr 5m 23 seconds
7 – Bolt Men – 1hr 5min 44seconds
8 – Speedwell Mixed – 1hr 9m 15 seconds
9 – Will To Win Women – Will To Win 1hr 17m 50 seconds
Thank you to James Watt from Bristol for this report and to Olly Whitman for the great pics.
More pics here thanks to Toby R: