‘Best Ever’ World Pilot Gig Championships Ends On Another Falmouth Double

wpgc 2014 medalsThe 25th anniversary World Pilot Gig Championships was the most successful to date. That’s the view of Rick Persich, the Chairman of the committee that organises it.

Falmouth Ladies and Men did the double again with both their crew taking gold medals. That’s the fifth year in a row for the women and the fourth year for the men.

There was success for the St Mary’s women, rowing in the Tregarthens gig, who gained silver.

The crew of Selena Baxter, Anna Jenkins, Helen Shave, Alison Stedeford, Kirsty Graham and Becky Baldwin were put through what Selena describes as a ‘bootcamp’ style training regime by their cox Colin Jenkins.

Selena says many hours of hard work, including training in the poor weather earlier this year, paid off. She said that coming second in the world was “amazing” and Kirsty Graham added that they had trained for months and the placing was “brilliant.”

But Selena says she’s going out on a high. She’s approaching her 45th birthday and is retiring from A team rowing.

Rick says the line-up at the start of the St Agnes to St Mary’s Men’s race was the longest in the event’s 25 year history with 145 gigs. And he wants the 2015 championship to be even bigger with more international entrants.

A crew from Brittany is scheduled to come. And he’ll be inviting gigs from the USA, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland again.

Rick says the clubs he spoke to have all said they’ll return next year and some are determined to bring extra gigs.

He says they committee will be having discussions about where they could store the extra boats although he says accommodation for rowers on the islands could still be a limiting factor.

Cost of transport and capacity also remains an issue. Rick says some clubs were told there weren’t any more travel tickets available and then more were suddenly released.

He had a meeting with Steamship Company senior managers on Saturday morning to discuss this and CEO Rob Goldsmith assured him it won’t happen next year.

He’ll also be talking to the Cornish Pilot Gig Association to iron out any problems.

Many of the staff of Cornish firm Ginsters are involved in the Cotehele Quay Gig Club. The Cannington-based baker is now a household name and produces up to 5 million pasties each week.

Managing Director Mark Duddridge says he knows the event organisers doesn’t want it to become too commercialised, but says his company is keen to carry on with their support in 2015.

He felt the whole weekend had a fantastic atmosphere, possibly due to 25th anniversary and the good weather, and he hopes more people can bring their family and friends across next year.

Most bars and pubs are reporting a good gig weekend but some businesses say there’s less demand for food and drink before the finals, as more rowers appear to be closely monitoring their diet and avoiding alcohol.

Richard Mills of Porthmellon restaurant Speros says they have been busy. There have been more rowers but fewer spectators and if that continues it could affect the event atmosphere.

It’s the first year that the Star Castle’s James Francis has run The Mermaid over gig weekend.

James says the business was “solidly busy” and the event, as a whole, is crucial to the islands’ business sector. The pub had an extension granted until 4am over the three days of the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Atlantic Inn closed earlier but they did run out of the St Austell Brewery’s ale, Tribute. The pub served over 2,000 pints of the flagship beer from Thursday.

Landlady at the Old Town Inn, Margaret Evans, says her kitchen was “flat out” catering for rowers. She had been advised about the volume of customers to expect with her first event and says she enjoyed the experience, although she was “shattered.”

As usual the event was good-natured and generally trouble-free, with just a few altercations reported and one arrest.

A male received an £80 ticket for a drunken altercation with a police officer on Friday night outside the Town Hall. Sergeant Colin Taylor says the issue didn’t involve gig rowers.

He told Radio Scilly that he was very tired having had just 12 hours sleep over the previous 84 hours.

There’s been no further development in the vandalism attack on the Papershop but clogs belonging to visiting rowers, which had been removed from Pelistry Cottage, have been returned.

A Twitter account showing the shoes on location around St Mary’s had been created.

It’s owner, the ‘Scilly Clog Fairy,’ has tweeted that he or she didn’t mean to offend, and it was just banter.

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