Info on disqualifications at Scilly

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Dear Gig Rower,

Disqualification on the St Agnes start line.
Following complaints and upset from crews disqualified for being over the line on the St Agnes start and sympathetic queries from fellow rowers, I have decided to write to all of you to explain why we insist on keeping this rule.

Why did we bring in this rule?

Previous to 2009 the big start line at St Agnes was becoming unmanageable as the number of gigs increased.

The original method was to form the line between two tripper boats but as it was difficult to judge whether you were on the line, a bulge tended to push forward in the middle of the line with boats on the outside rowing to catch up. It was difficult to identify the gigs at fault because of the long length of the line. Shouting “Come back the green gig in the middle!” was not very effective.

We then formed the line by lining up five safety boats and then bringing the gigs up in a line behind them, but it was difficult to keep the safety boats in line and the gigs just came between them or pushed them out of the way. So, it was decided to create the line using five big buoys and the only real deterrent was to disqualify any gig crossing the line before the start. In my opinion we have had good sensible starts ever since.

What are the alternatives to disqualification?

1. Drop the gig down 1,2 or 3 groups – The gig would probably finish where it would havedone, so no real penalty.


2. A set time penalty added to their finish time – The races aren’t timed and it would be difficult and time consuming to police, and as above.


3. Drop the gig down even more groups or into the bottom group – This will spoil the racing for the gigs in those heats and stop gigs going up a heat, as the offending gig will obviously be faster than them. Also it will take away the thrill of rowing against gigs of the same ability. What happens in the final heat? Can they win the group trophy or will the gig in second place win it?


4. Have an extra group for disqualified gigs – On the Sunday there are about 50 races to start; do we really want to extend this so that gigs that have been disqualified can continue racing. What if there is only one gig?
What can you do to avoid disqualification?



If your cox is in charge tell him that you don’t want your weekend of racing to end after the first race and to stay well back. If the crew is in charge make sure the cox knows that you want to stay safe.
Please remember that if the wind or tide push you over the line it’s not an excuse.
Being pushed over the line by other gigs will also get you disqualified so find a good space or stay back.

Don’t presume that because a gig is ahead of you you must be safe; they may be well over the line. I think that this is what happened to Falmouth Ladies last year.

There is normally 200 to 300 yards between the first gig and the thirty sixth (all of these can make it into the final 12); therefore you can start well behind everyone else and still get into the right group by the final race.

I don’t want to disqualify gigs and I think this is demonstrated by the fact that I have never disqualified any gig on the group starts. I feel desperately sorry for the crews who have been allowed to go over the line by their cox. Please avoid your heartache and mine by staying safe, well back behind the line.

Happy racing!
Keith Hale
WPGC Starter

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3 Comments on "Info on disqualifications at Scilly"

  1. Sarah Harris

    The cox is responsible for the gig, and should be the person in charge, particularly on a start line like this. A cox who cannot manage the gig and the crew should not be coxing. The crew’s job is to row, not manage the boat. Some of the coxes are women, and this is increasingly the case, so let us not assume the cox is ‘he’. Looking forward to the races, and to finding a space on the start, behind the line. You have a major job managing so many gigs. Even at small regattas, there are always one or two people who push the line. There is a fine line between being keenly competitive and being unsporting.

  2. Simon G

    If you’re good enough, losing a few feet at the start won’t make a difference, if you need to gain an unfair advantage because you’re not as good as you or your cox think then you have to suffer the consequences. I wish starters were as strict in all regattas but you do get very few DQ’s. At the end of the day gig rowing/racing should be FUN.

  3. Adam

    I don’t have any problem with a DQ for being over the line, but with all the time and expense involved there should be evidence provided to crews. How hard is it to stick a RIB on each bouy of the start line and film across to the next one. This will stop the argument from crews that they weren’t over the line.

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