The Bonnets sponsored row from Scilly to Newquay, Saturday 5th August 2006
On Saturday 5th August 2006, one gig, 6 rowers, a cox and a support boat set out at 1 o'clock in the morning from St Marys harbour set to tackle the 60 tough miles between them and Newquay harbour. Chuffer, Nick George, Derek Shave, Nathan Woodcock, Paul Osbourne, Curley Haired Rob the Postman and Ralph Handy were raising money for C.L.I.C, determined to reach Newquay in the oldest gig on the islands, the Bonnet.
With the wind in the North/North West and a bit of swell, it wasn't going to be the easiest of starts and it was said that any new gig would not have coped with the conditions the Bonnet faced. 10 miles into the trip disaster struck when the only Cornishman in the boat, Nick George turned greener than the gig itself and sadly had to be taken off and on to the Blue Hunter with severe sea sickness which would rule him out of the rest of the trip. Fearing the trip would have to be aborted, Chris Jenkins, who reportedly rolled out of Porthcressa Disco and on to the boat was woken up and dressed only to be installed into the crew to row the remaining 50miles.
Progress was made in the fog and at one point they were only making about 2 and a half knots and they made the mainland by 8am. Reports came in form Falmouth Coastguard that the crew were due in Newquay at 1pm, earlier than the 13 - 16 hour estimate. So at the Newquay end, a crew battled their way through the traffic and mustered at the harbour by 12.15pm where contact was made with the Blue Hunter reporting them to be 15 miles away! Despite this, the Dove was prepared and along with the fishing boat Zarvan headed out before 1pm round the Newquay coastline visiting Fistral and Crantock along the way. Much to the Dove crews dissappointment, surf breaking accross Crantock beach prevented them from visitng the Fern Pit Boathouse for a cream tea. Many sun fish, porpoises, bailing, phone and radio calls later, the Dove stopped off the Madrips and Penhale to wait whilst the Zarvan and Newquay Lifeboat went down off St Agnes head to meet the Bonnet.
After much guessing and false sightings, the fleet was spotted on the horizon and the Dove proceeded to row a final mile to meet the Bonnet. It was an amazing and relieving sight to finally greet the crew who looked very tired and sore and to be rowing two of the oldest Cornish Pilot Gigs side by side along the North Cornish Coast. It provided the crew with the lift they needed to carry them the remaining 5 miles or so to the finish.
Being joined by the Loyal Partner, Jimmy Hoares yacht and the Sophia Storm, The Bonnet was lead past the thousands of people on Fistral Beach who were unaware of the historic event unfolding behind the surfers. Round Towan Head, the Dove lead the Bonnet accross the Gazzle to be greeted by Pikey bombing it out between the gigs on a rubber ring behind Ben Glossop's speedboat raising a few smiles as he slammed into the sea. Going past the Dane, the Bonnet drew up alongside the Dove and despite the 15 hours of effort and pain still managed to put in a burst at racing pace before entering the harbour alone to cheers and applause, finally completing their epic journey.
Awaiting them on the beach was a pint and as they celebrated the trip, a proud crew admired the gig that was back in Newquay for the first time in over fourty years and enabled this amazing feat to be completed. She was pulled up and didn't look out of place resting alongside the Dove in the gig shed.
The next day, the Bonnet raced in the Neil Moffat memorial trophy along with five Newquay gigs. Coxed by Mike Green and rowed by an all Newquay crew, she finished third behind the Treffry and Dove. The Fly, Good Intent and Speculation completed the field. It was a great sight to see the Bonnet racing in Newquay again and doing so well. She was taken out by another Newquay crew after the race, making the most of this rare occasion. The winning crew of the race had two of the Scillonians who completed the trip. The crew, coxed by John Bawden were, Curley Haired Rob the Postman, Ross King, Mark Sutherland, Derek Shave, Mark Barraclough & Paul Summers. A fine weekend was completed in the bar celebrating and is a fine addition to the everlasting Newquay - Scilly relationship. Thanks for a great weekend, See you in September.