Rowers make a big splash at Eden in world-first pilot gig event
Seventy rowers from across the gig world descended on the Eden Project today (Saturday February 24) for a first event of its kind.
In the heat of the sun-drenched Mediterranean Biome, the inaugural Indoor Gig Rowing World Championships proved a worthy challenge for rowers aged from 14 to their mid-60s.
Among the big winners on the day were Looe Rowing Club. Their crew of four, brothers Joe and John Ovens, Kerenza Kinver and Hannah Cox won the Relay event.
Looe’s Katherine Bishop, who has only been gig rowing for three years, won the Women’s Open class.
After picking up her world championship medal, Katherine said: “I’ve loved this event and I’ve met some great people. I would definitely compete again.”
Winner of the Men’s Open was science teacher Tim Garratt from St Mary’s Isles of Scilly, venue of the long-established World Pilot Gig Championships.
Tim said: “It’s been a great event and I’m so glad I made it over for the first one. In 10 years it could be massive.”
Winner of the Women’s Veterans was Jess Thomasson of Charlestown Rowing Club. Gill Rylance of Truro River Rowing Club was the victor in the Women’s Super-veterans.
Richard Baker from Chard, Somerset, won the Men’s Super-veterans section and Ed Hartgill was champion of the Men’s Veterans category.
Richard took part in the competition in preparation for a charity row of the Atlantic next year with Atlantic Mavericks, a rowing team made up of ex-military personnel.
He said: “It’s been a fantastic event and I’d like to bring all the guys from the team down to try the event next year.”
Fourteen-year-old Ellie Dash who rows with Pendeen Gig Club scooped the Under 16s female category and 16-year-old Tom Mayall from Mount’s Bay Pilot Gig Club won the Under 16s male section.
As well as the many gig rowers who competed from Cornish clubs, others came from as far afield as Glastonbury, Taunton and Clevedon.
Eden teamed up with the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) to launch the day of competition and celebration of the burgeoning sport. The association represents a thriving rowing community of 69 clubs and over 8,000 active gig rowers.
Rowers pitted themselves over two race distances of 1000m which saw the best qualify for the final, a 2000m shootout for the ultimate accolade.
Eden’s Chief Executive Gordon Seabright said: “What a great day. At Eden we are so proud of our Cornish heritage and gig rowing is a fine sport the Duchy has given to the world. How exciting to see top rowers from all over the South West locked in fierce competition in the first-ever Indoor Gig Rowing World Championships in the beautiful surrounds of the Med Biome.”
Shane Sullivan, chair of the CPGA trustees, who presented the awards at the end of the event, said: “What a fantastic day – so good to see so many clubs participating. It’s clearly an event that’s captured the imagination and something to build on for the future. The rowers have competed with great spirit and there have been some really good times recorded.”
St Austell Brewery sponsored the event and winners received prizes from St Michaels Hotel and Spa in Falmouth.
Female Under 16s Ellie Dash
Male Under 16s Tom Mayall
Women’s Open Katherine Bishop
Men’s Open Tim Garratt
Women’s Super-veterans Gill Rylance
Women’s Veterans Jess Thomasson
Men’s Super-veterans Richard Baker
Men’s Veterans Ed Hartgill
Relay Looe Rowing Club
See more about the Eden Project at www.edenproject.com