DART Gig Club tucked into a smorgasbord of rowing delights over the weekend of July 6 and 7, courtesy of the generosity of Brixham GC. Joining them in this feast were competitors from as far east as London Cornish and as far west as Penzance.

The dish was served up in two appetizing halves: on Saturday a Veteran competition for the over 40’s and on Sunday a traditional regatta with all the trimmings.

Weather at the outset was tasty, gusts of over 30mph from the west met strong tidal flows to generate a bay busy with white horses- this combined with a respectable swell had many of the 60 or so crews struggling to navigate the 2500m kite course with the elegance and panache they would usually expect. At times around the first mark, despite expert and diligent umpiring, scenes reminiscent of a chimp’s tea party could be witnessed from the solid comfort of the harbour’s breakwater. To summarise: perfect gig rowing conditions, paddle boarders and Lilo loafers were nowhere seen.

Dart enjoyed this challenge during the heats immensely, though like everyone else, the crews had their moments, it was a credit to the various tillermen that they picked up no disqualifications.

Once the initial hurley burley had passed, the male veterans found themselves in a final anointed with the cream of the sport, two Caradon crews as well as Mount’s Bay and many others in fine fettle.

After 12 minutes and 52 seconds of full-on frenzy, they rolled over the finish line in eighth. The women provided two crews who charged around the same course and came in twelfth and thirteenth, considering the quality of the field these were good results.

Sunday morning brought a calmer bay but the horizon continually threatened black sheets of rain. Dart would eventually be grateful for their gazebo shelter so agonizingly constructed.

Culture wars rarely if ever enter the otherworldly and innocent drama of gig rowing but the new categorization of the old male category as “open” massively assisted a club on the day short of men.

Females could fill empty seats to ensure an open race crew was legitimate without having to declare as would have happened previously, using this devious tactic Dart scored respectably throughout the day, against 12 other clubs to come second overall behind a newly powerful Lyme Regis. The women’s super-vets scored the only outright victory but it was a case of consistency across the piece, particularly from the juniors which brought a podium finish.

All in all, an epic and memorable weekend.