Blessing, Naming and Inaugural Launch of the 200th Racing Gig ‘Little Picket’

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The sun came out on Saturday for Sidmouth Gig Club’s blessing and naming ceremony of their new Cornish pilot Gig boat, “Little Picket.”

Named after the local landmark, Little Picket is the 200th pilot gig to be built in the UK. Gig rowing is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and with the arrival of the 3rd boat in 8 years, Sidmouth Gig Club is no exception to the popularity of the sport.

It is tradition that a new boat be blessed before it has its maiden row to bring luck when out on the open seas and Sidmouth Gig Club was delighted that the community came together for the occasion.

The Sidmouth Sea-Fest  Shanty Singers welcomed everyone with their rendition of maritime classics including ‘Drunken Sailor’, ‘Shoals of Herring’ and ‘Mingulay’.

Sidmouth Gig Club Chairman, Jeremy Cloke, gave thanks to boat builder, Louis Hunkin, who attended from Fowey, where his family have built traditional boats for generations. Further thanks were given to the organisations who had generously donated to fund the new boat – the Keith Owen Fund, Sports England, Edwin & Joyce Hill Charitable trust and Norman Family Charitable Trust.

The boat was then blessed by SVA reverend Handel Bennett and launched with a toast of champagne for her maiden row along the seafront.

Sidmouth Gig Club Chairman, Jeremy Cloke, said “It has been a really great day, a real celebration for watersports in Sidmouth. We are so pleased to have Little Picket named and blessed so we can get her onto the water with all the members keen to have a row. Our membership has been growing every year and so the new addition to the club was very much needed, so we can continue to offer this affordable sport to the people of Sidmouth and the local area. I hope that with the developments of the seafront, considerations will be given to the needs of the watersports activities which play a vital role in the health and well- being of the people in Sidmouth and the locality.”’

Alan Durrant, Chairman of the SidVale Association, who distribute the Keith Owen Fund said. “We were delighted to be at the blessing of Little Picket. The SVA has supported the development of the Gig Club, through the Keith Owen Fund, since the start and we are pleased to see it going from strength to strength.”

Sidmouth Gig Club is a friendly, sociable club that rows regularly throughout the summer and winter. For further information please visit our website or e-mail [email protected]

Blessing the New Gig with a Sprinkling of Holy Water.

Gig club members and Supporters during the blessing and naming ceremony.

Preparing to launch with a crowd of supporters and well- wishers.

Jeremy Cloke (Chairman) and Louise Beekhan(Fundraising Officer) receive a cheque for £15000 from the Keith Owen Fund.


A challenging launch for Little Picket’s maiden row.

Gig Club members enjoy their first row in the new gig.


Pictures and article courtesy of Sidmouth Gig Racing Club

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