Dart Gig Club has entered the high season of gig racing in good fettle.
At this time of the year regattas proliferate like mayflies, one event almost blending in to another.
The comparison of two local regattas one week apart highlights the joy of this sport. The first, on June 3, took place from a picturesque cove in Brixham, it was the first veterans championship.
The second on June 9 was scenically the opposite, taking place in a situation of epic industrial grandeur underneath the twin Tamar bridges of Saltash.
This was a mixed and county championship. Though very different in setting, both regattas brought great success for the club.
At Brixham, under delightful sun and very gentle sea conditions, Dart ladies took second place just behind Charlestown, holding their nerve to hold off a predatory Mounts Bay closing in just behind them.
The men had a similarly nerve-biting final race. Technically, having rowed the fastest in qualifying they were favourites, but were pipped on the line by Caradon, who were in turn just beaten by Lyme Regis, all five final boats finishing within 20 seconds of Lyme crossing the line.
All this activity took place to the backdrop of the Torquay air show giving an unforgettable ambience; equally delightful, too, to note was the completion of Brixham’s club house, and they proved generous hosts.
Scroll forward a week to Saltash and the sunshine remains but the outlook is different. The mixed championships are a recent invention but they give a good opportunity for clubs to show their adaptability and cohesion, as rowers join each other outside of their usual crews with little time to practise as a unit.
Conditions on the river were benign, the chief difficulty for crews deriving from the heat.
Dartmouth veterans mixed team of Colin, Bev, Catherine, Alison, Rupert, Dave and Lance, after performing well in two gruelling qualifiers, were delighted to come third out of 20 boats.
They were the only competitors from Devon to manage to achieve a podium finish across all of the different mixed categories, the others naturally being taken by the Cornish teams.
The club also contributed mixed crews in the other categories who enjoyed competitive racing and the atmosphere of the Saltash Regatta Carnival running alongside the rowing event.
A county championships was run with the mixed event in which Dart had some involvement, not surprisingly, however, this too was unfortunately dominated by the Cornish, but possibly this innovation will be developed to provide less predictable results in the future.
Two events in two very different locations summed up the spirit of the sport and it is Dart’s great privilege to be able to contribute to this Cavalcade of gig racing which so epitomizes the spirit of the South West.