Following what became a ‘controversial’ women’s final at last weekend’s World Championships, GigRower has received feedback from one concerned rower, Lis Harden. She fears that the subsequent online and personal backlash against officials or rowers risks bringing our sport into disrepute. We publish her words here and welcome constructive comments in the feedback area below.
For the love of the boat by Elisabeth Harden
Hello there. For those that don’t know me, I’m Lis from Bridport/Lyme: rower, cox and general gig nut. I’m taking up my pen as I’m concerned about my one true love – pilot gigs.
Those of you that do know me, will no doubt at some point have been treated to my impassioned soapbox speech, about how privileged we are to row these fantastic wooden boats, with their amazing history of craftsmanship and seamanship.
“We serve them” I will have said, sentimental tear in eye and Rattler in hand “They do not serve us.”
We don’t get paid to race them. There’s no tax incentive to rowing. Huge transfer fees are not part of our lexicon. Strangers and loved ones who do not row quite frequently consider us certifiable with our talk of bleeding and bruising and chafing. But still we do it. We row because we love it. We row because it gives us something we have never had before and will never get again in life. We row because, quite frankly, we can’t not.
I’ve just got back from the Champs, and suffice to say, Bridport did not have their best ever time. Two disqualifications, a reinstatement, missed heats, misunderstanding, frustration and some really rubbish weather. Yet throughout it all, we pulled together. Our Scilly virgins emerged broken, battered, smiling and completely hooked on rowing. And the level of support and sympathy we received from other clubs and crews during our trials was beyond words. This gig rowing family that we have is really like no other.
To then read about the abuse that the winning Newquay Ladies crew have received on social media was therefore shattering. And today comes the tidings that the Facebook figure, Gig Stretcher, has also been subjected to vitriolic messages and was considering stepping down.
We all want to win. We fight hard on the water and passions run high. There are club rivalries, and interclub rivalries, and all sorts of misunderstandings and feuds; rowers are after all still human. But there’s a tradition to uphold here, of integrity and honour, of pulling together, of the moral code of the sea. We row in the shadows of those Cornish boatmen who took these gigs out in all weather for the saving of lives, and for the sheer bloody hell of it. This kind of behaviour is not worthy of our beautiful gigs, it’s not worthy of our community and it’s not worth of rowers.
Please, everyone, remember why we do this:
For the love of the boat.
Tracking of Gigs – Is this the future?
On another note we have also received some interesting feedback from crews who tracked their progress in the women’s final via GPS. One of these tracks is that of the winning Newquay crew. Perhaps more extensive use of technology such as this has a part to play in future racing and could be part of the solution to avoiding controversy.
Tracks above show the Ladies A crews of Newquay in Spy and Flushing & Mylor in Zawn during the Women’s Open Final of the World Pilot Gig Championships 2015.
Did your crew track your race in this way? If so, we’d be interested to receive the data via firstname.lastname@example.org