Falmouth seal another famous double

More than 350 crews took to the Isles of Scilly last weekend (May 3-5) for the 24th World Pilot Gig Championships – the biggest event in the competition’s history.

The three-day Championships saw crews from across the UK and Europe descend on Scilly, including British Rowing’s Rhiannon Halliday and her Caradon Ladies’ crew…

Friday 3rd May

64 Ladies’ Veterans crews (aged 40 or over), including nine ‘Supervet’ crews (50+) lined up at St. Agnes for the first race of the Championship weekend. With several clubs now deciding to concentrate solely on the veteran events, competition in both the Ladies’ and Men’s categories has become increasingly fierce.

The Isles of Scilly crew, rowing in their gig Emma Louise stormed home to a clear victory – a crew which included several members who had finished second in the Open Women’s category the year before.

Crew members later revealed that they were initially reluctant to celebrate victory as they thought they may have pushed the start line. It later emerged that seven crews had been controversially disqualified for doing just that – including two who finished in the top five. Newquay finished second, with Mounts Bay completing the top three.

In the Men’s Veteran’s category, Roseland were out to defend their title – facing stiff competition from Caradon and Flushing & Mylor. The three crews fought hard the whole way down the 1.6 mile course, each taking a lead at some point during the race.

Caradon pushed hard in the final minute, however, finishing clear of Flushing and Mylor in second and leaving Roseland in third place. 

In the Super Veterans’ categories, Helford retained their 2012 Men’s title by finished a highly credible six place in the main race – well clear of any other ‘Super Vet’ crews. Black Rock of Falmouth won her first title in the Women’s equivalent.  

Saturday 4th May 

Close to 130 crews completed the line-up for the Women’s seeding race, providing a fantastic sight for the hundreds of spectators. The 127 crews started well back from the line this time, after the previous night’s disqualifications.

Title favourites Falmouth led the field right from the off illustrating that, once again, they would be aiming to dominate the Women’s event. Surprise contenders Fowey finished second, with Caradon coming in third.

In the Men’s equivalent, 125 crews started the race which was eventually won by Looe – hot favourites to challenge Falmouth this year, who finished just behind in second place. 

Now racing in groups of 12, the Saturday afternoon and the Sunday Morning was spent completing two sets of mile-long sprint races from ‘Nut Rock’. Crews finishing in the top two of each race gained promotion to the next highest group, and crews finishing in the bottom two were relegated to a lower group. The appeal of the Championship weekend is that crews are racing those of a similar ability all weekend – with the chance to get on the podium for winning their respective groups. 

Falmouth once again showed their class by comfortably winning the top groups in both Men’s and Women’s categories. 

Sunday 5th May 

The sun stayed out for the afternoons finals – where Falmouth would look to take both the Men’s and Ladies’ titles for the third year running. 

In the Ladies’ race, Falmouth once again powered to an early lead – looking strong to finish several lengths clear. The race provided Falmouth veteran Karen Bestwetherick with her 10th gold medal – an incredible achievement.

The next battle was for the silver and bronze medals, with Mounts Bay and Caradon racing level for the whole length of the course. Mounts Bay surged ahead in the final stages, however, finishing less than a length clear of Caradon to take the silver. Looe was next to finish, taking fourth place – a great result for the club who have only been developing their Ladies’ crew over the past couple of years. 

In the Men’s race, every crew was battling to deny Falmouth a third consecutive Championship title. Despite pushing hard Looe could not get clear of the favourites, who powered clear in the final stages to finish over a length ahead of the East Cornwall club. A very close race for the next two positions saw Roseland pip Caradon to claim a bronze medal. 

The evening kicked off with the presentations, and each of the top three crews receiving their five minutes of fame on the podium. One of the highlights of the weekend came when the crew in the Dall Lewyer – who are all blind or partially sighted – took to the stage for winning Men’s Group K, beating six other gigs to achieve their best ever result.

Caradon ladies showed the depth of their racing squad, with two crews finishing in the top eight. Falmouth also achieved two crews in the final, with their B crew finishing 10th in the Men’s races.

Rhiannon Halliday

Pictures from a fantastic weekend on the Isles of Scilly can be found at www.scillytoday.com/2013/05/07/in-pictures-wpgc-2013-photos-from-sundays-action-on-the-water, as well as on the Gig Rower and BBC Cornwall Facebook pages.

For a full list of results from the 2013 World Pilot Gig Championships, visit www.worldgigs.co.uk.

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