With most gigs out of the water over the winter, many clubs will be enduring hours of training on the rowing machine and in the gym. While most rowers believe the ergo to be a form of torture, indoor rowing in schools is growing in popularity in schools throughout Cornwall – with a club established in many schools throughout the county. To support this, a competition framework is in place to allow pupils to compete against one another over the winter months. Each pupil rows for a set time according to their year group. For example, year 7s row for 2 minutes, year 8s for 3 minutes, and so on. Once in year 12 and 13 – the race is a 2000m row with the best time winning. Each age group has a ‘gold medal target’ set, from which a percentage can be devised in order to compare performance against any rower in the country!
Many rowing clubs have created links with schools, and set up a school club, in order to enhance their junior rowing sections. These include Newquay, Cape Cornwall, Penrice (Charlestown gig club), Fowey, Looe, Saltash (Caradon) and Poltair (Castle Dore).
The first set of competitions are ‘school sports partnership (SSP)’, involving all schools linked to their own SSP. The Poltair SSP competition was held in early December, with entries from Fowey, Roseland, Poltair, Penrice, Bodmin, Tretherras, Treviglas and St.Austell college. The competition saw some excellent performances – especially from gig rowers currently competing on the junior gig circuit.
Fowey gig club were represented by sisters Maria and Fiona Norman. Maria rowed to 10th place in the year 7 girls category, while Fiona took the top spot in the year 10/11 girls category rowing 1268m in 5 minutes which gave a percentage of 99%. Michael Shakespeare, who rows in the under 14 and 16 crews also took top spot in the year 8 male race. Tom Douglas, Tom Vincent and Mark Denton who are all members of the under 16 junior crew rowed to 12th, 14th and 10th place respectively in the year 10/11 race. Junior rowers from Charlestown gig club also rowed well in the event. Under 14 rowers Sam Perry and Jack Durston battled it out in the year 8 boys race to finish 4th and 6th. Sisters Leah and Hannah Rowe finished 13th and 6th in their races. More siblings, Joe and Lauren Bailey also competed, finishing 4th and 14th in their races.
A good number of Tretherras and Treviglas pupils also row for Newquay rowing club. Bodmin community college pupil Emily Kneale, who won the year 8 girls race is a member of Looe rowing club, and was part of the third placed crew in the 2009 under 14 championships. Emily gained the best result of the day, with 100% of the gold medal target for her age. Promising young rower Jemima Hitchings of Roseland rowed to 4th place in the year 10/11 girls race achieving 93% of gold medal target.
It is fantastic to see so many young gig rowers producing good results in school competitions. Indoor rowing is a great way to form strong club school links, and become aware of potential new junior rowing members. A report from the Callington SSP event will follow soon!