Sunday 23rd February 2014
Pilot gig rowers from all over the South West of Britain waited anxiously to find out if Sunday’s inaugural SuperVets Pilot Gig Championships would go ahead on the Torridge Estuary.
Defying the odds, the strong South Westerly winds were blowing in a favourable direction for the event to take place, and rowers trapped on shore for the previous storm-lashed weeks were thrilled to get out on the water for some serious competition. Black threatening skies, gale force squalls and white water on the river provided exciting conditions for the rowers who were all aged 50 plus. Power and tenacity were required to row up river to the start line against the wind and tide, while skilful timing and strong team work brought the crews on a fast run back to the finish by Appledore’s iconic anchor on the quay.
15 crews from Appledore, Barnstaple, Boscastle, Bristol, Bude, Clevedon, Dartmouth, Ilfracombe, Langstone, Lyme Regis, Newquay, Sidmouth, Swanage, Torridge and Truro, some of whom were first time visitors to Appledore, were impressed by all the village had to offer and the organisation of the Appledore Pilot Gig Club who were putting on the first event of this kind specifically for the older rower. As the sport of Pilot Gig Rowing has expanded rapidly over the last few years, the SuperVets over-50 age group has increased in numbers with many looking forward to competitive rowing.
Races for Mens, Ladies and Mixed crews took the form of heats for 8 boats followed by a final with 6 crews in each category. Change-over of crews, oars, seats and even oar-pins presented a colourful and often frantic spectacle in the narrow confines of the slipway, with many on-lookers in awe of the skill and teamwork involved.
Mens Crew Final 1st Ilfracombe, 2nd Swanage, 3rd Bude
Ladies Crew Final 1st Swanage, 2nd Lyme Regis, 3rd Appledore Barbarians (Appledore/Boscastle/Clevedon mix)
Mixed Crew Final 1st Clevedon, 2nd Ilfracombe, 3rd Bude