2010 Mens County Pilot Gig Championships

Image of Caradon Men racing

The weekend of the 18th and 19th September was blessed with good weather condition for holding the 2010 Mens County Pilot Gig Championships in Newquay.

With the womens equivalent having been won the fortnight before by Falmouth ladies, the hot favourite for the mens title were crews from Caradon, Par and Mounts bay, having been successful throughout the season. 96 crews were entered at the start of the weekend and the first round saw almost half knocked out as only the top three crews continue into the second round. With times being introduced in the second phase, only the winners of each heat plus the 16 fastest losers continued into the second day, with 24 crews entering the quarter final stage. The weather was almost perfect for the championships making for flat seas and a very slight swell. Caradon A crew posted the fastest time of the day, looking strong for the final stages.

The second day again brought blue skies as the quarter finals took to the water. There is no place for ‘clever’ racing at this stage, with the possibility of changing sea conditions causing times to slow up throughout the morning meaning that a place in the semi finals was not guaranteed unless you won the heat. Some of the top crews such as Par Bay and Mounts Bay A crews had been drawn together in a heat, so racing got interesting. The top 3 times were posted by Caradon A, Caradon B and Helford A crews at the quarter final stage.

With the bank of boats taken down to the 6 most similar to make racing as fair as possible, 9 ‘A’ crews, Falmouth and Caradon ‘B’ crews, and Caradon ‘C’ crew made it into the top 12, qualifying for a place in the semi finals. With 3 Caradon crews remaining at the this stage, it was clear that this club had an extremely strong Mens squad  to contend with. With some extremely close racing, and time penalties being awarded for clashes on the marks, 7 boats were drawn for the final as 6th and 7th place were drawn on time. The final 7 crews were Caradon A and B, Par Bay A, Mounts Bay A, Falmouth A, Looe A and Fowey A, presenting no real surprises with the final line up. A flotilla of boats took to the water to watch the 2010 final. By this time the sea conditions had changed, with the first leg presenting crews with a some side on chop and the second leg threatening to throw the bow rower off their seats, these crews were going to get wet!

A very strong start from Fowey, Caradon A and Par Bay saw three boats fighting it out to the first mark until Caradon and Par Bay started to pull away in front. A sudden surge from Caradon just before the 6 length marker saw them gain water for the mark and turn first. The crew from Par steamed in behind, leaving some destruction in their path as boats queued up to turn the first buoy. The coxswain from Caradon B crew used this to her advantage pulling off a brilliant turn to come out level with their A crew. The A crew then surged on into the sea to reach the second mark 3 lengths clear leaving Caradon B, Mounts Bay, Par and Falmouth level behind. The third leg towards the infamous ‘harbour turn’ saw attacks from Falmouth Mens A crew on 2nd placed Caradon B with Par and Mounts Bay also pushing Falmouth. By the harbour turn Caradon A were well clear, proving how much hard work had gone into their training over the past year completing the first lap in 17 minutes dead.  Caradon B turned second, leaving the three crews behind to battle it out. The second lap is the real test of fitness where crews can lose positions if they cant keep up the pace. Caradon A surged forwards pulling lengths out of the crews behind heading to what looked like a guaranteed victory. The B crew in second place were always clear, leaving what looked like the closest fight between Falmouth, Mounts Bay and Par. The order stayed the same until the final leg of the course where again Caradon pushed even further in front, crossing the line 40 seconds in front of the second placed crew. A win of this distance has not been seen for several years in a mens championships with all who watched in awe of the strength, fitness and technique possessed by the Caradon mens A crew.
Image of Caradon men with Sharon Davies
Falmouth made a move on Caradon B part of the way down the last leg but the Caradon B crew (consisting of 3 veterans, one
supervet and 2 younger rowers) proved their worth and squeezed to cross the line in second place. The first and second placed results showed total domination by Caradon gig club, a feat which has not been achieved for many years. While many thought Falmouth had third place in the bag, Mounts Bay embarked on a huge push in the very last stages of the race to just beat Falmouth on the line, a real test of determination at the end of an extremely long race. Current world champions Par Bay finished in 5th place, possibly proving that their crew are sprint race specialists and Fowey came across the line in 6th. A young Looe crew completed the two lap final to finish in 7th place.

Swimmer Sharon Davis presented the prizes at the end of the day, rounding off a day well run by Newquay Rowing Club.