THERE were boats as far as the eye could see when a record number of gigs, including those from Weymouth, lined up in glorious sunshine for the silver jubilee of the World Pilot Gig Champion-ships on the Isles of Scilly.
Among the 140-plus field were 13 pilot gigs from Dorset, with Weymouth Rowing Club sending 40 rowers, three boats – Tristan, Isolde and Penny – and more than a dozen supporters.
The opening event, the veterans’ (over-40s) and super veterans’ (over-50s) races for both women and men, covered a gruelling 1.59 nautical miles.
The ladies’ race was won by Mount’s Bay with Weymouth’s A crew finishing strongly in 11th and the B coming home in 32nd – the men’s event was won by Caradon, with Weymouth’s veterans 10th and super vets team 12th.
Championship racing featured the longest start line in world rowing – 146 gigs spread out across half-a-mile – with the result of the mass race seeing teams seeded into groups of 12, after which there are three races from Tresco to St Mary’s.
Weymouth fielded three ladies’ and three men’s teams, and the ladies’ race was won, predictably, by reigning world champions Falmouth, who are unbeaten since 2009.
They were followed by the home team of St Mary’s and Roseland were in third. The Weymouth A crew finished 23rd, with the B and C crews in 61st and 81st respectively.
The Ladies’ B crew finished as winners of group F, giving them a coveted trophy and three minutes of fame dancing on the podium in front of thousands of rowers.
Falmouth men made it a double by rowing home ahead of Looe and Caradon to win their event, while Weymouth A were 22nd, B came 55th and the C crew 102nd.
Ladies’ captain Lynn Reynolds said: “What an amazing opportunity to attend such a prestigious event and for Weymouth Ladies to finally get to stand on the podium for winning their final group heat.
“We have such a brilliant support network within the club that has enabled us to amaze ourselves with our ability and grow a great team attitude.
“I am one extremely happy captain and long may this excellence continue throughout the remainder of the season.
“All gig clubs have upped their result expectations so for Weymouth to be up there with some of the best in this sport is just fantastic.”
Men’s skipper Clive Moore added: “This was a truly memorable World Championships for Weymouth, on and off the water, and the results really cement our growing stature in the sport of gig rowing.
“A big thank you goes to ASDA’s Weymouth, The Crow’s Nest in Brewery Square and Howard Jones who contributed to the club’s new rowing kit.”
If you would like to try rowing a pilot gig boat and maybe attend next year’s World Championship, there are taster sessions every week from Weymouth Harbour.
For details see weymouthrow ingclub.co.uk The next event in the calendar is the Swanage Regatta and official boat shed opening on May 24.