North Devon Hospice Float Bye

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club took their two racing gigs, Lady Freda and Nipper, to escort the flower-decked raft towed out from Instow beach at the culmination of the Float Bye ceremony on Sunday evening, in memory of loved ones and organised by North Devon Hospice.
The raft was towed by a gig boat from Torridge Pilot Gig Club, and Lady Freda and Nipper were on either side as it was slowly taken across the estuary past the moored lifeboat at Appledore. From the beach at Instow it was a spectacular sight as the raft disappeared into the amazing sunset that evening.

The ceremony on the beach.

Dragons on the River Taw

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club held their first Dragon Boat festival on Sunday 1st July on the River Taw in Barnstaple.  Crews were invited to take part from the local community, and entries came from Pearce Construction, Fremington Trailblazers (2 crews), St George’s Dragons (NHS), the Windsor Arms and a Barbarian crew.

Two gig boats were decorated with Dragons heads, and seating arranged for 12 paddlers, a drummer and a coxswain in each boat. Race control was at the Town Station on The Strand, and racing started at about 7.45am as the incoming tide rushed in.  The start line was adjacent to the swing bridge over the Yeo, and the finish line was adjacent to Queen Anne’s statue.

The first race was between a Trailblazers crew and the Windsor Arms.  Both crews struggled to get to the start line from the slipway at Castle Quay against the incoming tide, but once there turned and raced with the tide towards the Long Bridge. The Windsor crew put on an impressive performance to cross the finishing line first.

Trailblazers versus Pearce Construction

The tidal flow slackened off for the following races, making it much easier to get to the start line for the second race.  This featured a second crew of runners from the Trailblazers, and Saint Georges Dragons from the NHS who, sadly, were left behind by the Trailblazers.  A crew of Pearce Construction men then raced against a Barbarian crew of gig club members, who were well beaten by the builders, and the fourth close-fought race was between the Windsor Arms crew and the second Trailblazer crew, just won by the Windsor Arms.

The fifth race was between the Trailblazers first crew and Saint Georges Dragons, comfortably won by the Trailblazers, putting them into the sixth race (a semi-final) against Pearce Construction.  Pearce’s convincingly won that race, meaning that they had to race again against the Windsor Arms for the final race.  Both crews were quickly up to the start line for an eager start ( to the Starters dismay), but were allowed to continue, and Pearce’s once more finished first and took the trophy for the event.

The winning crew

BPGC Chairman Kevin Ward presented the trophy to the winning crew and commented on how successful the event had been.

He said “Thanks to all of you for making this festival go so well. We intend to make this an annual event, and extend an invitation to all local groups and companies to register interest in entering crews for this competition by emailing the Club Secretary at All proceeds from this event will be divided between the Race for Life and our own ‘Off the R’owd’ appeal for a Watersports Centre at Rolle Quay.”

Next weekend the Barum club will be competing in gig boat regattas at Appledore on Saturday and Rock on Sunday.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club ‘Off the Row’d appeal’ – Rowathon

Barum Gig Club are making 2018 their “Off the Row’d” year in an effort to fund the creation of a Watersports Centre that Barnstaple can be proud of.
By the kind permission of Tesco, the latest fund-raising project is a Rowathon at the store near Barnstaple railway station on Saturday 17th February from 10.00am to 10.00pm, and Sunday 18th February from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Proceeds from this event will be shared equally between Childrens Hospice South West and the Barum Club’s Off the Row’d appeal to fund a new Watersports Centre for Barnstaple.
During the weekend club member Graeme Clarke will be attempting to row a Marathon distance (26.2 miles) in less than three hours, supported by other club members who will demonstrate continuous rowing on the Club’s Ergo Rowing machines. In addition the new Ergo Sliders financed by Community Fund grants provided by Councillors Brian Greenslade and Mair Manuel will be on show. The Sliders have been a boon to the Club, giving a much more realistic rowing experience, and the Junior rowers particularly have benefitted. A collection will be made on the day, and Club members will be on hand to talk about the Hospice and future club activities.


BPGC attended the regatta today at Appledore, rowing in Phillipa J. Barum Bobby was also there on loan to Portishead gig boat club. BPGC were only able to field 13 rowers, to form a Mens B Crew, a Ladies B crew and a Mens Veteran crew, so only competed in these three races.
The ladies B crew were first away and gave a great performance to cross the line fourth in a fleet of ten boats, reflecting well on the training they have undertaken recently. The Men’s B crew suffered a broken pin just after the start, and a side-on collision on a buoy turn, but put on a great spurt on the home leg to gain four boat lengths on the gig boat in front of them and pass it just before the finish. There final position was 8th across the line. The Men’s Vets crew performed well around the whole course to come in fourth place at the end.
Portishead are a brand new club and this was their first regatta. They were well supported and enjoyed the experience, despite the cold and wet conditions. They kindly donated £40 towards the Fuller fund as a mark of gratitude for the loan of Barum Bobby, and they also purchased from us the black set of oars that we no longer use.

Barnstaple Sprint Regatta

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club enjoyed a glorious late Summer’s day on the River Taw on Sunday 27th Aug, when they held their annual Sprint Regatta.  This has become a firm favourite with North coast clubs, and it was attended this year by boats and crews from Appledore, Torridge, Bude, Ilfracombe and Boscastle & Crackington.  Racing started early at 9.45am with the Men’s Veteran race on a flat calm river with no wind.  The narrow channel around Fisherman’s Point caused some clashes of oars as all the boats were still in line and they were forced to close in on each other.  Will to Win (Torridge) came out of this to be first across the line opposite Queen Anne’s Statue, closely followed by Boscastle’s Torrent.
The succeeding races were a battle against the falling river levels as the tide receded, but by virtue of some very slick changeovers between races the full programme was completed.  The combined Junior races followed the Veterans, with Appledore’s under-14s first in their group and Ilfracombe’s Under-16’s first in their group.  Barum’s Men’s A crew stormed through the length of the course to take first place in their race, and Ilfracombe’s Ladies A showed their continuing strength by coming first in their race.  The final B group races were won by Bude Ladies and Ilfracombe’s Men.
Final overall placings for the regatta were:
1st    Appledore
2nd   lfracombe
3rd    Torridge & Boscastle
4th     Barnstaple
5th     Bude

Porthleven Regatta 2017

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club took their racing Gig Lady Freda and 16 rowers to Porthleven, near Helston, on Saturday 19th August to take part in Porthleven’s Gig Club regatta.  Sixteen clubs in total attended, including top Cornish clubs, so the Barum rowers were delighted with their seventh place overall in the final results.
Sea conditions were not unlike those normally experienced during the World Championships in the Scilly Isles, with a choppy swell and westerly winds force 4 – 5 for most of the afternoon, although the sheltered harbour was a suntrap for the spectators. 
Both Falmouth and Coverack competed hard for first and second places in the races entered into, although neither club entered every race. The first two races ( Ladies B and Men’s B), were won by Falmouth and Mounts Bay respectively, followed by the Under 16’s and Ladies A races, both won by Coverack.  The Men’s A race was won by Falmouth (Coverack second), the Veterans race (men and ladies together) went to Penryn, and the final Mixed crew race was won by Falmouth. Mounts Bay also competed strongly, with a crew in every race, and with one first place, two second places, two fourth places and two fifth places actually took first place overall in the competition.
The Barum club results were:
Ladies B   10th, Men’s B   7th, Ladies A   13th, Men’s A   11th, Veterans   5th ,  and Mixed crew 7th.

Torridge Regatta

This took place on Sunday at Appledore, with 7 or 8 boats in most of the races. It was an overcast day, rather humid with occasional rain showers, but calm sea conditions and light winds. The first race started at 09.45am, and the organisers managed to fit in 12 separate races, finishing with the 'six decades' race (six rowers in each boat, each born in a different decade) at 3.00pm.

Ilfracombe continued their winning streak, taking first place in seven races, second place in three races and fourth place in two races. Torridge came second overall with two first places, three second places, six third places and a fifth place, and Appledore third equal with Boscastle.

Future regattas are further afield in the next few weeks (Paignton, Devoran, Port Issac and Boscastle to name a few), the next local regatta will be Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club Sprint regatta on Sunday 27th August on the River Taw in Barnstaple. All of the local clubs are expected to be taking part in what should be a colourful spectacle in the middle of town.

Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Regatta 2017

Pilot Gig Boat Clubs from as far afield as Bristol and Lyme Regis Joined the North Devon Clubs to take part in the regatta on Saturday. The glorious weather and the calm seas facilitated excellent rowing conditions and a series of hard-fought races around the kite-shaped course marked by buoys clearly visible by the watching crowds from Ilfracombe pier and vantage points on the Capstone and Lantern hill. The different clubs established a colourful temporary village on the beach next to the Lifeboat slipway, with shelters erected for rowing bags and equipment storage for the day. In addition Ilfracombe Pilot Gig Club ran a popular cake, burger and tea and coffee stall on the pier, which was well patronised throughout the day.
Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club showed the benefit of another year’s training, with most crews staying up with the pack right up to the finishing line; the BPGC Ladies Vets crew gained the best result of the day for the club with a second place in their race, behind the Ilfracombe crew.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club annual awards evening

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Boat Club held their annual awards evening on Sunday 10th January at the Rolle Quay Pub, immediately following on from a rowing training weekend at Appledore. Club members were pleased to be joined for the evening by Councillor John Mathews, Councillor Ian Roome, Peter Woodhams (Landlord at the Rolle Quay Pub), and the Club President Keith Abrahams, all of whom are ardent supporters of the Club and donators of some of the trophies awarded .
Tony Layton (club chairman) and Chris Walter (vice chairman) briefly ran through the highlights of the 2015 rowing season before asking the guests to present their trophies to the club members nominated to receive them. These were as follows:

Junior section

Boy rower of the year – George Black
Girl rower of the year – Ellie Stephenson
Junior newcomer of the year- Rebecca Moody
Junior member who has contributed most to the club – Ellie Ward


Male rower of the year – Simon Hebbard
Female rower of the year – Kelly Baker
Newcomer of the year – Dawn Buchanan
Adult member who has contributed most to the club – Jo Walter

Tony Layton commented on the wonderful spirit within the Club, as shown by the wide range of nominations for the ‘member who has contributed most to the club’, and the approaching competitive rowing season is looked upon as an opportunity for both the junior and adult sections to build on past successes.

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club at the World Championships

Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club sent 27 rowers to take part in the World Championships in the Sicily Isles for the Bank Holiday weekend and a number of supporters attended as well.
The first event was the Supervet races on the Friday and, as a tribute to David Butt, Barum rowers wore black armbands during the race. David was a good friend to the Club and he gave a great deal of assistance during its formation. In addition many Club members knew David personally and were sorry not to be able to attend his funeral that day.
Racing conditions were difficult for the Barum rowers, with strong winds whipping up confusing wave patterns, but both the Ladies and Men’s crews improved on last year’s performance in the Supervets races, the Ladies placed 17th out of 25, and the Men 24th out of 32.
The two boats Nipper and Lady Freda were used by both the Ladies and Men’s crews on Saturday and Sunday for the remainder of the Championships, and some Barum rowers helped other North Devon Clubs by filling vacant positions for some of the races.
The Ladies crew in Lady Freda were featured on BBC’s Spotlight programme when they were involved in a spectacular collision during their final race. The Barum crew had led their group nearly all of the way to the finish line in St. Mary’s harbour when a boat behind them collided at speed on the stern quarter; this knocked Lady Freda into the path of another boat which struck the bow quarter just as the other boat’s rowers were sweeping their oars back. The Barum rowers took avoiding action but one of the ladies received a heavy blow on the arm and ended up on the floorboards. In the meantime, Ilfracombe’s ladies in Rogue were pulling up rapidly on the outside and crossed the line first, while the three boats involved in the collision drifted past the line. Lady Freda was awarded third place, but North Devon’s honour was upheld by the Ilfracombe boat.

The final 2016 positions were (2015 results in brackets):
Ladies – ‘Nipper’ crew 87 (84); ‘Lady Freda’ crew 99 (111)
Men – ‘Nipper’ crew 120 (107); ‘Lady Freda’ crew 110 (137)

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