Pilot Gigs have been raced for employment, fun and prize money since the 17th century. Early records show gigs racing a straight line course over a timed and measured mile and today pilot gigs race over a range of different courses. This post is a list of some of the current race courses and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each as well as looking at other options used in other disciplines of rowing.
This post is all about provoking a positive and forward looking discussion about the sport, where do you think it should go from here ? do you have any thoughts on course options ?
Let us know what you think by adding a comment, get involved and help influence change for the better.
:: The Kite Course ::
This is an example of Falmouth’s course at Gyllyngvase.
Description: This is a standard kite course with three turns. Start line, then anticlockwise around the marks back to the start/finish line.
Examples: Tribute Events, Standard format for most clubs.
Advantages:Traditional, Good for spectators at mark roundings & popular with rowers.
Disadvantages: Controversy on the turns as umpires have to make decisions. Three umpire boats required for each mark, plus a start/finish boat. Extra strain on strokeside as they have three turns to pull around.
:: The Sprint Course ::
This is an example of the Nut Rock races on the Isles of Scilly.
Description:A sprint from a start line to a finish line with no turns.
Examples:Nut Rock at Scillies, Under 14’s @ Hayle Pool.
Advantages: No turns to umpire, spectators can often follow races alongside either by boat or by land.
Disadvantages: Weaving by crews can sometimes go undetected, rowers often have to row the length of the course to get to the startline.
:: Triangular Course ::
This is an example of the Newquay course.
Description: Start then do two turns anticlockwise and finish on the start/finish line.
Examples:Newquay, Mount’s Bay, Roseland.
Advantages: Only two umpire boats required, less turns for coxswains as opposed to kites, good for spectators as tight turns are often thrilling.
Disadvantages: Controversy is often the case on the turns as clashes happen, takes up a large space of water, very tight turns for strokeside.
:: Time Trial Course ::
This is an example of the Truro River Race course.
Description: Start at a point, set off to a finish point racing against the clock and not other crews.
Examples:Truro River Race, Across The Bay race.
Advantages:Crews can not clash as they are set off in intervals or with a large startline, no turns to umpire, usually a number of spectator points as this is more suited a river.
Disadvantages: Tidal conditions change through the day, some crews may gain an advantage going at a different time to another, no close racing for spectators to watch, timing many crews can become difficult when set off at multiple times.
:: Relay Course ::
This is an example of the St. Ives Relay course.
Description: Start at one point, race to another, change crew, race back to point one and so on..
Examples: St Ives Fun racing.
Advantages: Integrates ladies and men’s racing together, prompts a bit of fun as change overs happen.
Disadvantages: Can be dangerous as crews try to get a quick change over on the beach (swell etc.) Crews may meet each other going in opposite directions, both aiming for the inside line and potentially clashing. Crews have to start at different places and finish at a different place from where they started.
:: Course Choice ::
Clubs will often pick a race course that is most suited to their venue, for example Charlestown have the first mark by the harbour wall so spectators can see the action, this means that rowers have to row out the start line as opposed to just launching from the beach. However this does allow rowers to warm up as they row out. Some venues have beaches, some have pontoons, thus effecting the choice of what type of course to have.
Suggestions in the past have been:
One turn course – This could be rowed either way making either Bowside or Strokeside pull round.
The Z shaped course – Again this could be done either way with one turn each for Stroke and Bow. However the start and finish line are very far apart and could have a knock on affect on how long the rowing takes.
The M shaped course – The course can either offer Bowside two turns and Strokeside one, or vice-versa. Again the start and finish lines are spread out.
:: And another couple of ideas, fig-8 tongue-in-cheek admittedly ::
Do you have an idea for a course layout? or what is your favorite course ?
Please tell us your thoughts by posting a comment here.