Weymouth Rowing Club
Weymouth Rowing Club is a phoenix risen out of the ashes of a tragedy. On the 22nd September 2000 Tristan Douglas-Johnson set out from his home excited at the prospect of a day out at the Southampton International Boat Show. He never returned. At the age of twenty, he was killed by the runaway RIB that had minutes before thrown all its occupants into the sea whilst on a demonstration run. Tristan was an affable young man, and it was his colleagues at Kingfisher Marine who came up with the idea of building not one but two Cornish Pilot Gigs as a long lasting memorial to him. The Tristan Project was born. It did not take long to raise enough money through a sponsored parachute Jump, a benefit gig at Paul’s nightclub, a raffle, and many kind donations from family and friends. Sponsorship and donations of materials meant that the first Gig was launched on the 2nd of June 2001. It was named Sir Tristan, making a neat connection between Tristan, through Arthurian legend, to the Celtic origin of the boats design.�
A Cornish pilot gig is a long, 6 man rowing boat, 32 feet in length overall, with a beam of 4 ft 9 in. and is clinker built with Elm on Oak. Their specification is based on the “Trefry”, a gig built in 1838 and still in regular use by Newquay rowing club. Their original use was to take pilots out to incoming ships in the Atlantic Approaches, the fastest gig having the best chance of securing the pilotage fees. Originally a commercial venture, now the sport of gig racing has become established in the West Country and is spreading to Holland, France, The Faeroes, Australia and the USA.So that the boats were not just museum pieces, Weymouth Rowing Club was formed.
The aim of both the Tristan Project and Weymouth Rowing Club was that as many people as possible should be encouraged to enjoy the benefits of rowing these magnificent boats. We encourage all to have a go, especially the young, disabled or disadvantaged. The Tristan Project remains to fund anyone with particular needs who might wish to try rowing.
The second boat, like the first, was built by Alan Hanger at Kingfisher Marine, where of course, Tristan had worked. It was launched on the 2nd March 2002, and named after Tristan’s friend Simon Penny, who died nine months before him. He too had worked for Kingfisher, and since there, as among all his other friends, simon was known affectionately and simply as Penny, so too our second boat was thus named.
With lots of fund raising and donations Weymouth Rowing Club have been able to secure a third gig to the fleet called “Isolde” who was build by Dave Currah and blessed and launched on the 15th March 2008. This allows the club to actively attend Gig Regattas around Devon and Cornwall and as far as the Scilly Isles for the World Pilot Gig Championships as well as to continue the recreational enjoyment of rowing for those who do not attend the events.
The club is organising a 2 day Gig regatta in Weymouth on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 2008 in conjunction with the “Spirit of the Sea” Maritime Festival, we can confirm 40 gigs for the event are already booked from other clubs and should prove be an exciting event, in fact the biggest event that the Club has ever held and to get there the club has been fund raising!!.
The club are currently actively recruiting Juniors with the new season just starting as we are keen to extend our Junior Section of the Club.
If you are a Junior and interested after viewing the Website and feel you would like a go then please contact Caz on 07881 632311 who will arrange for you to visit and “Have a go” – We are confident you will enjoy the experience!!
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