Kevin Pyne :: On Salcombe

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Nice day but for good oars only

The gig racing at Salcombe
Is not for the faint of heart
For one might meet difficult
And multiple conditions
Despite the noisy “yactty starts”
Is a long row down to White Sands?
Before the marks appear
Where suddenly the swell from
The Wolf rock especially if “stroked up”
Can make a gig at great speed
“Take off” if caught under its rear
Then there is the “back eddy”
On the Portlemouth shore
That if used well and with
Confidence a victory you may
“Almost consider assured”
And if as club you have never
Raced there then it is recommended
That you do
Because it’s “tricky” on the Cox
And “challenging” on the crews
All with a “good and friendly welcome”
And the very best of South Devon views 

(C) Kevin Pyne 2010

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  1. David Marsh

    Inspired by Kevin’s poetry to write of my own Salcombe experiance. I live in Manchester but am a Salcombe gig club member.

    So at last, July 2012, the day of the rowing club regatta. Open the curtains in the flat, sun glinting on the water. Glorious. After the disappointment of last years cancellation due to bad weather, this day had been eagerly anticipated. After a hearty breakfast, camera, check, binoculars, check, canvas
    chair, check, excitement mounting, it was down to the Yacht Club start house bright and early to help if needed. Chris Spencer Chapman asked if I would clean off the landing steps as I had two years earlier, so with scrubbing brush and bucket to hand, cleaning the steps it was then! Steps cleaned, time for some photos. Bolt, Wolf and Cadmus, now tied to a buoy awaiting their crews, reflected their colours in the sunlit water. This was going to be a good day.
    Racing started at 13:00 hrs with a good crowd in the gardens, Salcombe crews doing well. I waited with friends from the supervets, eager to see if I had a place in the boat. But no, the boat was full with regular Tuesday morning rowers so no place for me, completely understandable as a part time rower. However disappointment turned to joy as Rupert from the Teignmouth gig club passed by asking for a volunteer to complete their 2nd crew. Hand quickly raised, Rupert asked me to report to
    the Teignmouth gazebo prior to the race.
    I duly presented myself at the appointed time, the man with the crew list informing me that I was in the Vets 2nd crew. Gulp!! “But I’m 65, a supervet” says I. “Don’t worry we’ll look after you” he replied. So shortly after, we lined up, ready for the start. Off we go, dig deep, strong short strokes. Two gigs still behind us, at least we’re not last! Approaching the first mark, there’s Salcombe’s 2nd crew, just ahead. Can we catch them? We can try. Encouraged by our cox we slowly move up and by the finish line clear them by several lengths. Mixed emotions fill my head. Adrenalin, pain, the thrill of the race. But it’s Salcombe we’ve beaten, have I betrayed my club? The Salcombe gig pulls
    alongside and Chris Spencer Chapman shouts across “Well rowed David, three cheers for
    Teignmouth” We give our three cheers in response. A warm glow settles over me, this is why I row. The beauty of the gigs, the endeavour of the crews as they strive for perfection, the feeling of being at one with the gig. And Salcombe at its best. Roll on next February when I’ll feel that thrill again, on the water with a crew of friends. Click – clack, click – clack as the oars do their work, the gig gliding through the water. Can’t wait.

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