Gig racing: Brixham hosts Cornish Pilot Gig Association's veterans' championships

Action from the veterans' gig racing championships at Brixham

Action from the veterans' gig racing championships at Brixham - Credit: Julyan Bayes

Brixham Gig Rowing Club hosted the Cornish Pilot Gig Association’s veterans' championship, a major event in the gig rowing calendar.

It was the second time Brixham had hosted this prestigious event and 22 gig rowing clubs, from the South West, Dorset, Hampshire and even London, accepted the invitation to attend, boating 40 crews.

The veterans' championships were for male and female rowers aged 40 plus.

The weather was great, but the initial sea conditions meant that the ladies' heats had to be run over a shortened course with a start and finish line that was not easily viewed from Brixham’s Breakwater or Breakwater Beach.

Luckily, the sea condition improved as the tide fell and the launching of boats could then take place from the beach, with racing then over a straight 1,800 metre course, starting out in the Bay, and finishing just off the beach.

Spectators on the beach and the Breakwater had a fantastic view of the races.

As gig racing events were not able to take place for the last 18 months, this was the first event for many of the clubs who were able to take part in and every competitor was grateful to be out on the water again.

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It was clear that the rowers had not just sat back with their feet up during the lockdowns though, as the race times were quick with many a tight finish.

Cornish teams won the day, with Mounts Bay Ladies winning the ladies' final and Caradon winning the men’s final.

As for Brixham, crews reached the ladies and men’s semi-finals, which was a good result and gives them something to work on over the winter.

The event brought 300 people to the town, which helped the local economy, and introduced the town of Brixham to a lot of people who had not visited before.

Locals and holidaymakers were also treated to the fantastic spectacle of traditional wooden pilot gig boats being raced.

As the event was a great success the club is hopeful that it will host it again next year.

Veterans' championships results

Veterans' gig racing championships results - Credit: Submitted

Club treasurer Paul Goddard said: “Brixham Gig Rowing Club is a relatively new club, and it was only possible to run the event due to the support and hard work of its members, with the financial support they have had from Maritime International Solutions (Insurance Brokers) Limited, Rockfish Restaurants, Brixham Trawler Agents Limited and the local people of Brixham.

"A big thank you goes out to them and to members of Brixham RNLI, who helped with overseeing the racing and safety of the rowers.”