Gig Rowers do the Boat Race

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This was the first year that the Thames Traditional Rowing Association (TTRA) had been given permission to run a series of races before the main Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. Crews had the honour of being allowed to row replica boats of the originals raced by the university crews back in 1829 (more details on the history of them and their connection to Cornish Pilot Gigs here).

Jezz Webb from Ilfracombe Pilot Gig sent us this report about this inaugural event:

As the sun glinted off the Thames, the CPGA All Stars crew and the London Cornish Pilot Gig Club crew started to assemble on the banks of the river Thames at the University London Boat Club (ULBC). The crews enjoyed the luxury of waiting in ULBC while their boats were brought down the river from Richmond. The CPGA crew would be rowing in ISIS (Oxford) and the London Cornish in Cam also known as Goldie (Cambridge). The question was, would this be a rerun of the first race in Oxford and Cambridge boat race in 1829 with the CPGA crew winning in Isis?

Once everyone was assembled, the crews made their way downstream to the start of the race with the rest of the flotilla. This gave the chance for the CPGA crew to familiarise themselves with the boat. The London Cornish had already taken advantage of a couple of training sessions in theirs earlier in the week. The boats, as you would expect with 8 crew plus passenger, were not sprightly off the mark but, once going, the addition of two extra rowers soon showed – with the boats quickly picking up speed.

Once at the start, both crews had a chance to stretch their legs ashore and enjoy the atmosphere of the crowds. As the Queen’s Royal Barge, Gloriana, came into view and the rest of the flotilla followed her upstream, this signalled time for the crews to go afloat and warm up.

As both crews assembled on the start line, the CPGA crew took up position on the Northern Bank (Middlesex), the London Cornish crew on the Southern bank (Surrey). This would be the first race for some of the London Cornish crew, most of whom only started rowing in the last 12 months and some only in the last few weeks.

While the London team had youth on their side, the CPGA crew had experience. As the flag went down on, it was a slightly crooked start, but what’s a gig race without a bit of controversy on the line. Both crews pulled away well and got underway with no incidents. As the crews approached Craven Cottage, the CPGA crew had moved into the lead with London Cornish still making good headway.

As the crews made their way upstream the CPGA crew held onto the lead and crossed the line first in a time of 27 minutes. The TTRA had laid on food and drink in the club house for all crews to watch the Ladies and Men’s main boat races. At the prize giving a trophy and medals were handed out to all crews by the president of the Thames Traditional Rowing Association.  There are high hopes of the event being run again next year and hopefully with the addition of the gigs we all know and love. If you missed out this year then I would strongly recommend putting your name forward next year as I feel London Cornish will be looking to even the score.



London Cornish

Passenger: Ruth Stokes

  1. David Callaghan
    2. Alex Eaves
    3. Max Harris
    4. Andrew Spooner
    5. Alex Lewis-Jones
    6. Nick Panter
    7. Patrick Bird
    8. Chris Read

Cox: Anne Curnow Care

CPGA All Stars

Passenger: Mille Webb Ilfracombe

  1. Gary Cook – Exmouth
  2. Jez Webb – Ilfracombe
  3. Daniel Bohin – Clevedon
  4. Chris Gale – Dartmouth
  5. Steve Radcliff – Boscastle & Crackington Haven
  6. Andy Cole – Clevedon
  7. George Ford – Exmouth
  8. Nigel Le Gassick – Lyme Regis

Cox: Martin Walton – Mevagissey

Extra Information 

The coat of arms on the medal is that of the TTRA and is the first time they have put their coat of arms on a medal.

Explanation of what the coat of arms stands for 

The Sea-dragons at the top of the shield with the sword of St Paul between them are a tribute to the City of London, where all the members of the Association are based, while the two Sea-lions holding oars in the crest could stand for the stalwart rowers who do the hard work propelling the cutters along the river. The little mandela, or pointed ovals, represent a disciplined flotilla of boats in all the colours of the members’ liveries.
The chief and pale together make a bold “T” for Thames, which shows up well from afar.
The initial letters of the motto, Together Through Rough And Smooth, appropriate in itself, are those of the Thames Traditional Rowing Association.



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