In the bitterest of east winds and with ice still frozen on the ground, 74 crews and almost 500 rowers lined up under the Tamar bridge this morning for the first gig race of the 2010 season, Three Rivers.
Hosted by Caradon Gig Club this is one of the longest races in the Gig Racing calender at around 6 miles (50 min) long. The race is given it’s name as it passes through the three rivers of Tamar, Tavy & Lynher.
Each race was stared under the Tamar bridge into an ebb tide and fresh east wind on the starboard bow, a buoy turn after 1000m was followed by a 500m slog into the wind before three gradual buoy turns faced the crews back down river towards the bridge with the tide and wind beneath them.
As with so many races the first mark is everything and despite the length of this endurance course Three Rivers is no exception and the order after the first mark changed very little from the finish results half an hour later. There where however some exceptions as crew members begin to suffer from blistered hands, poor fitness, fatigue, broken kit and today, the bitter cold.
The second and longest leg then passed under the bridge and tracked towards a port turn mark at the entrance to the river Lynher which set crews once again into the now stronger wind and chop in the exposed river mouth. After the final mark crews could focus on the finish line under the bridge and the end of the race. These final two legs where perhaps the hardest of the day and boat speeds dropped as low as three knots as tired crews pushed a strengthening ebb tide to cross the line.
The ladies first heat saw Falmouth A and Caradon A take an early lead and by the fiftieth stroke both had clear water over the rest of the fleet. A broken pin in the Falmouth boat and a aggressive push from the home crew then gave Caradon clear water but Falmouth attacked and started to close but it was not enough and by the start of the return leg Caradon still had clear water and used their dominant position to drive of Falmouth and finish one minute and 35 seconds ahead, a complete reversal from last year when Falmouth beat Caradon. Mounts Bay (again +1:35) then came across in third followed by Falmouth B (+9secs) and Newquay A (+17secs) in fourth and fifth.
The mens race saw a tighter start with the same two clubs Falmouth and Caradon taking an early lead with clear water 50 strokes in. The home crew then made a controlled push that slowly pulled them ahead of Falmouth and gave them clear water by the first mark which they held until the end finishing 50 seconds ahead. 2008 World Champions Mounts Bay then finished in third behind Falmouth (+35secs) followed by Looe (+6secs), Caradon B (+12secs) and Flushing & Mylor A (+21secs).
Today was the first race outing for Essa, Caradons new Gig and a great start to her racing carer with two wins at her home event. Once again the Caradon committee and it’s members did a great job running a slick event kicking off the start of the 2010 racing calender.
The Three Rivers is renowned as one of the toughest races on the gig racing circuit. Not only is it one of the longest but as the first event of the season it is a harsh initiation for the rowers. Blown forearms, blistered hands and sore gig asses are common complaints on the quay after and for many the sunny summer regattas still seem a long way away.
With Scilly only 8 weeks away the top crews training will now be focused on power and sprinting and for many this will have been the case since Christmas. Although Three Rivers gives a good indication of what has happened to the ordering over the winter don’t forget a lot can still change and for many who didn’t get the result expected it will be the motivation needed to hit the training hard and do better in Scilly.
Video by Tommy
Download the results as a PDF here
How was it for you? miserable and cold? Add a comment below…
More pics here: http://www.lymescapes.co.uk/ (Enter threerivers2010 in the box when you get there)