Climax to the Gig Racing Season
The Newquay County Gig Championships signal the end of the rowing season. This is the event where crews from all the gig rowing clubs descend upon Newquay Harbour to battle it out for the honour of being crowned County Gig Champions.
The Newquay County Gig Championships came about in 1969, the idea being proposed by Eddie Arthur, one of Newquay's coxswains. The first championships took place in 1970, with the old gigs, Newquay, Dove and Treffry being used. During these early years the championships lasted for a day, with only men competing.
During the mid seventies, cove rowing became popular. It was centred around the Lizard peninsula, places like Cadgwith, Mullion, Coverack, Porthallow, Durgan and other villages in the area. This nucleus of competitive rowers led to Durgan on the Helford River winning the championships in 1973.
Over it's forty year history there have only been two cancellation's, 1975 and 1983, both due to bad weather. It is the unpredictable nature of the weather and sea on the North Cornwall coast that make the championships such a challenging event, both to row in and to organize! In 1986 a combined C. R. A. crew consisting of members from several different clubs won the championships, after this it was decided to ban composite crews.
The Ladies Championship began in 1980 and is now in its 30th year, being as keenly contested as the men's event. In 1988 NRC created the Junior Championships following the rapid growth in the sport.
Up until 1985 only Newquay gigs were used in the championships, but with the increasing number of clubs entering the event, outside gigs were brought in. Now gigs taking part in the championships are chosen from around the county, kindly loaned by their respective clubs.
Start line from a Mens Championship race 2005.
In 2005, 70 mens crews and 56 ladies crews took part. Racing is held over the first weekend in September (or second depending on the tide) for the ladies and two weeks later for the men. Racing takes place in heats of six gigs with two heats per race (12 gigs in total). There is usually four rounds of racing before the final race on the Sunday afternoon. The mens final is raced over two rounds of the course in keeping with the endurance rowing that gigs were originally built for.
Dark clouds over Towan Head in the distance showing typical championship weather as the ladies final of 2004 turns the Eastern mark.
The junior championships used to take place on the Sunday of the ladies competition. Due to increasing popularity it is now held as a seperate event held on a Sunday in late July. Last year, 17 crews took part racing over a slightly shortened course in heats of four gigs. The final is raced over the full course.
Results of previous Championships can be found here.