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 secretary@barnstaplepilotgigclub.co.uk. 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.

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