Torpoint Rowers Club become established as a Cornish Pilot Gig Club

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Article courtesy of Torpoint Rowing Club


Using the funds from a coffee morning and contributions from rowers, we hired small rowing boats to start training and teaching novices the art of rowing. Following several more fundraising events and sponsored rows we gradually bought the basic safety equipment and with home made cushions, from foam covered with carrier bags, we established a regular timetable for rowing although it was, and is still to some extent, tide dependant.


Our two hired rowing boats starting out from Torpoint for our sponsored Red Nose Row to Saltash and back. We have also been to Calstock and back on another sponsored row.


We invited several community groups, namely the scouts and firefighters, to join us for rowing sessions, which were good fun and helped us to spread the word that rowing was now an activity in the town again.


The local scouts visiting so they could gain their ‘On The Water’ badges.



During this period we were helped by the receipt of several small grants from a local charitable group, the 1730 Club, a £3k grant from Trinity House towards a gig, and the Torpoint and Rame Lions which funded safety equipment and helped fund coaching, VHF radio and first aid qualifications for some of our members. We also applied for affiliated status of the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) , which then meant our goal was to purchase a wooden pilot gig within two years so that we could become full CPGA members. We secured a Sports England grant and carried on raising our own funds too to help with this. Further sponsored events in aid of Help for Heroes and Comic Relief followed plus completion of the Lynher challenge in both 2016 and 2017.



The CPGA launched their ‘Club in a Box’ initiative in 2017, which meant we could loan a GRP gig, a road trailer, a set of oars and a set of cushions so that we could train in a full size gig. This initiative is in part sponsored by Sport England, St Austell Brewery (Walter Hicks being the founder) and the CPGA with equipment being provided by Plymouth Trailer Centre and Gigass. It has enabled us to train crews for the u14’s and Newquay County Championships and to carry on building our experience and knowledge to help the club evolve.



We have also loaned Korev to the Cornish Barbarians who completed a 26 mile charity row in aid of Bowel Cancer charities.




The arrival of our loan gig, Walter Hicks, aka Korev.


The 2017 Lynher Challenge crews who enjoyed the 14 mile row (as we rowed to Saltash then did the challenge to St Germans and rowed back to Torpoint afterwards), the BBQ and a few giggles along the way.



The Torpoint and Rame Lions presenting us with our lifejackets which they kindly funded.



The scouts then joined us to make an u14 crew for the 2018 u14 Championships at Hayle in July 2018, where they came 22nd out of 44 crews, which given that they had a whole month of training (approx 8 sessions), was a very respectable position in the table. The ladies too were continuing to train and gain experience although we were struggling for men to make up racing crews. It was a very hot day and the juniors did well with many proud parents looking on.


The u14 crew (left) coming in second, in their second race, to the eventual winners Fowey A


With the funds now well boosted we were in a position to start looking for a second hand wooden gig. We were very lucky to be given the loan of the Spirit of Rame from Rame Gig Club to compete in the Looe Regatta in 2018 and to have the use of Lantic from Fowey Gig Club ahead of the eventual purchase of her in August 2018. We are very grateful to both clubs for their help. Their has been a lot of help from many from the gig rowing community and it truly has the feel of a family, with tips and advice being shared along with the loan and gifting of various pieces of equipment.


We have just been given another £1k grant from the Torpoint and Rame Lions towards our target for a set of oars.




A beautiful evening on the water as the sun is about to set. Not the first time we raced the sun!




It was a proud day in August when we took ownership of Lantic after the Fowey Regatta.


Local Paralympian, David Wetherill, and his friend Steve also joined us for a few sessions out on the water during a gap in his busy schedule. We look forward to welcoming them again and it was great to share our time in the mutual learning experience, as a few adaptations had to be made, although the giggles along the way helped.



This coming year we hope to continue to build and evolve the club by competing in the 30th Anniversary World Championships in the Isles of Scilly, attend another three of the four Tamar Winter League regattas, compete in the 3 Rivers race at Saltash on 2nd March 2019 along with many more summer regatta dates, to enter crews for the u14 and u16 Championships for the juniors, enter senior crews for the Newquay Championships in September and with more sponsored rows to help ourselves and local charities along the way and with more fundraising as a joint venture with Torpoint Athletic Football Club, where our gigs are parked.



Rowing is an inclusive sport and along with David, who helped show this, we are hoping to take some visually impaired rowers out in the future too. If any individual or group (disabled or not) would like to have a go please make contact via our Facebook page, Torpoint Rowers Club. All are welcome to try this fun activity and there really is nothing like Vitamin Sea for a feel good vibe.




Local Paralympian David Wetherill (left) and his friend Steve joined us for some fun on the water.

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