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Newquay Gig Championships with Cadgwith

Posted on September 27, 2019 . Posted by fergus

It was pasties galore time again at the beginning of August. My Anns Pasties team, with a 6am start, were prepped and ready to step up to the mark. It was just as well because it allowed me an opportunity I could not turn down.

It did not take much persuasion when the Cadgwith boys said they were one short for the County gig championships at Newquay in mid September. Time to come out of retirement having hung up my oar a couple of years ago I knew I still had a lot to offer with a young enthusiastic bunch of lads, they were very keen with an average age of 21, plus I would be rowing with Rowan my nephew aged just 16 years old, but man enough to row for Cadgwith A crew.

I knew I could bring in some experience as my fortieth birthday was fast approaching. Every crew needs an old man in it, as they would keep telling me,.

Training down Cadgwith where I learned to row over 30 years ago as a junior always feels like coming home, the narrow cove tucked into the Lizard peninsula was always a joy to launch from and row out under the jagged cliffs with the Lizard point as a backdrop, a handsome sight from the sea in a gig . This was no sightseeing trip though , the crew’s intent was focused , we had 6 weeks of hard training, and the boys were hungry to make their mark. The lads certainly had plenty of potential and hit their training hard both on the water and on the torturous ergo’s, could I keep up was in the back of my mind, I knew there was no shortcut to fitness. It took years the last time to peak and maintain my fitness, so 6 weeks was going to be difficult!

Training was tough but the old buzz and anticipation was back as I made that well worn trip into Newquay Harbour. There were 104 crews racing in heats of 6, It soon sorts the men from the boys. We win our first heat, job done, an easy opener but I could feel burn. Second race a bit tougher with just the first three going through from each heat, we were third , phew , job done again we were in the quarter finals on Sunday, the top 24 crews. Our aim was to make the semi finals and the top 12. I convinced myself I was not knackered after a hard day.

Sunday saw us drawn against the eventual winners Looe and Caradon, both crews I had had the pleasure of seeing off in my heyday, I knew how hard we needed to race. The crew gave everything up the first leg Cadgwith A flying with the elite , cranking it out in 3rd place just a length behind Caradon A and 2 lengths behind Looe as we reached the first mark. After the turn though we just hit the wall we I was rowing on auto pilot , we held onto third until the next mark but with lungs bursting, there is no hiding place in a gig race and Dart haul us in but we hold onto 4th place in our heat. The game is up, but only just, as we miss out on the semi finals by only a two seconds and end up in fourteenth position overall. The rest of the lads do not need much consoling and seek immediate sanctuary in the bar! 11:30 am and it’s beer o’clock for the crew,  I realise it is going to be a long day ahead as we as we set out on our land based boat race. The lads have done well and I was proud of them even though I’d end up with a sore head as well as a sore body