Brixham Gig teams hold their own in tough Three Rivers Race

Torbay Weekly

On Saturday, March 12, Caradon Gig Club hosted their annual Three Rivers Race event. This event is the first Gig rowing event of the year, and, as such, is always very well attended, with clubs from all over the South-West and beyond, taking part.

It is an event only surpassed in numbers of participants by the World Championships held in the Isles of Scilly, and this year over 80 traditional wooden Cornish Pilot Gig boats entered. Brixham Gig Club entered two Gigs, fielding two ladies and two men’s crews.

Normally, the race is approximately 10 kilometres long, starting and finishing under the Tamar Bridge, with the ladies’ race starting first, with boats setting off in heats at approximate two-minute intervals.

They row down the River Tamar towards the River Tavy, then back into the Tamar before turning back towards the bridge. They then row under the bridge towards the River Lynher before turning again to finish back under the Tamar Bridge.

Once the ladies’ race has finished, the men’s race starts and follows the same format. This year though, the races had to be shortened by approximately two kilometres due to the very strong wind and tide at the upper end of the course, as crew safety is paramount.

The event is always extremely tough, and the weather this year made it particularly challenging. Covid, and the poor weather over the Winter, also meant that clubs haven’t been able to train as much as they would have liked in the lead up to the event. That said though, only one crew didn’t finish the event. The fastest ladies crew, from Fowey, finished in 40 minutes and 56 seconds, and the fastest male crew, from Coverack, took 36.44.

The Brixham ladies’ crews finished in 50.52 and 54.11, and the two men’s crews finished in 46.19 and 51.39. The club is very happy with these performances, as a lot of the faster boats were crewed by much younger rowers.

It also gave some club rowers, who are relatively new to rowing, an opportunity to experience the thrill of racing in a major event, and other, more experienced rowers, who are taking part in this year’s World Championship event, an insight into what to expect from the competition.

The event did highlight the importance of a club having a contingent of younger rowers, who can train to eventually compete with the best, which is something Brixham Gig Club is currently short of, and if you are under 18, and would like to have a go at rowing a traditional Cornish Pilot Gig, please go along to the club’s taster session, which is being held on Saturday, March 26, at 11am, and the club will get you out on the water. The club is based in the Gig Shed, located next to Brixham’s Breakwater. Refreshments will be provided.