By Tom Larkin
Sir Matt Busby once said “if they are good enough, they are old enough”. Decades later that philosophy is being put into practice by Rame Gig Club in south east Cornwall, who are preparing to send what may well be the youngest crew to ever compete in the World Pilot Gig Championships to the Isles Of Scilly this May. Furthermore the crew, which will be racing in Minnadhu, are not just coming along for the ride – they will be representing the Rame Men’s A crew.
At the start of this year’s long race, the crew will comprise one 16 year old, two 17 year olds, and three 18 year olds – a combined age of 103 years.
They are coxed by Jack Baker, who has coached them from a young age and has helped them develop from a crew that used to regularly come in last, to one that has really started to achieve things on the junior circuit and even punch well above their weight in the Newquay men’s championships in 2017, where they came a highly respectable 33rd out of 70. Jack told me ‘they won a few races last year, including the Langstone Juniors sprint where our mixed crew beat a really strong Portland crew. When they came 2nd overall in the Newquay Under 16 Championships, I asked them if they wanted to enter the Men’s. They really did the club proud, coming 33rd’. He believes a key reason for the crew’s success is the way that they have stuck together and how everything they do is a joint effort. ‘This winter we’ve completely stripped the Minnadhu down and repainted her. She may have been built in 1995, but she looks like a new boat now, and the young lads have all mucked in and helped out’.
It’s not just their Men’s crew that will be remarkably young at this year’s championship. The Ladies A, also coxed by Jack Baker, includes three 17 year olds and an 18 year old. As well as two supervets.
Rame’s club chairman Gill Gibson also speaks proudly of the youngsters, who are helping to improve the competitive reputation of a club that has for so long been overshadowed by their more illustrious neighbours, Caradon. ‘Rame have always been known for coming last, but this group of juniors have stuck together and for the last couple of seasons they’ve been really strong’. She also spoke of how they have made good use of the club’s fitness suite.
When pushed for a prediction on where the young Men’s crew will be ranked at the end of the weekend, cox Jack admitted that it may come down to racing conditions, but that ‘if they can get up into the top half, that would really be incredible’. Chairman Gill said ‘I just what them to be enthused, not put off. I dare not predict a result. I just hope they’re all friends at the end of it and that they’re inspired to keep rowing for years to come’.
The young rowers will be camping on St Agnes over the weekend of the championships, with several proud parents also making the trip over to the islands for the weekend’s racing.
We haven’t been able to get official confirmation on whether they are in fact the youngest ever crew to compete at the WPGC, does anyone know of any younger crews? Let us know!
In main photo; From left to right they are Adam Poulson (16), Harry Turpitt (18), Dylan Tomkins (17), Toby Bell (18) and Ollie Powell (18). Not in Photo Ollie Riggs (16)