The Great River Race on the Thames in London took place last Saturday, attended by almost every Pilot Gig Boat club in North Devon. The race is almost 22 miles long, from Millwall slip in the East of London to Ham House next to Richmond on Thames, and it is a handicap race for all types of traditional rowing boats. 320 boats took part this year, including 49 Cornish Pilot Gig Boats, the majority of which were from Devon and Cornwall.
Because of the handicap system the Pilot gig Boats started almost an hour after the slower rowing boats, but even so Will-to-Win from the Torridge Gig Boat Club in Appledore was rowed with skill and power through the throng of boats on the river to gain first place in the race in a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes and 32 seconds. It was such a quick time that the gunner who was responsible for firing the finish cannon was not ready and he missed the first boat arriving!
Summary showing finishing positions for North Devon Pilot Gig Boats:
Position Boat Club Time
1 Will to Win Torridge 02.21.32
28 Bedehaven Bude 02.35.48
42 Torrent Boscastle / CH 02.40.22
74 Margaret James Appledore 02.47.10
84 Barum Bobby Barnstaple 02.47.51
105 Kerens Torridge 02.50.42
171 Phillipa J Barnstaple 03.00.28
186 Lantern Ilfracombe 03.04.00
209 Headon Home Clovelly 03.09.20
226 Morvoren Private entry 03.10.01
There were 49 Cornish Pilot Gig Boats in this race, so more than 20% were from North Devon.
Although the competition was strong the event was enjoyed by all, particularly the experience of rowing through central London and seeing the different types of rowing boats, ranging from 2-man rowing skiffs for picnics, to 20-man dragon Boats.
1 Phillipa J heading for Tower Bridge
2 Barum Bobby waiting for the start