Challenging And Emotional Gig Weekend In Scilly

WPGC Womens Finals

The close finish in the Women’s Final

The Gig Weekend Chairman says it was the right decision to disqualify the St Mary’s women’s crew who crossed the line first in the finals of the World Pilot Gig Championships on Sunday.

But Rick Persich says it was also disappointing and the committee is looking into the use of technology to assist in future decisions.

This weekend’s event was one of the most challenging and emotional in recent years. And whilst swell and poor visibility made rowing tough at times, it was the events off the water that many people will remember.

Disqualification decisions have brought some calls for organisers to take the amateur status of the sport and the cost of attendance into account in the future.

Falmouth women rowers using the Governor were excluded after marshalls said they were over the start line on Saturday’s St Agnes race.

From Radio Scilly

WPGC Chairman Rick Persich on the Tregarthen’s Disqualification

Governor coxswain Nick Maxsted says experienced coxwains in neighbouring boats told him they weren’t over the line, but he says this didn’t seem to carry any weight with the officials.

And a Falmouth rower said it was “a bitter pill to swallow” after spending so much to come to Scilly.

St Mary’s rower Katie Graham agrees. She’s posted her view that disqualification in any heat is unacceptable because of the travel cost and she thinks there should be penalties rather than preclusion.

On Radio Scilly’s Facebook page, Irene Wilson says the decision to strip the St Mary’s A crew of their women’s world title was “the biggest cloud of the weekend.”

Videos of the final show they crossed the line just one inch in front of Newquay’s Spy. But an earlier clash in the choppy water sealed their fate.

The Tregarthen’s boat lifted the Spy’s rudder off its pintle.

Radio Scilly Commentator Steve Watt reported that Spy’s lost three quarters of a length because of it. But Tregarthen’s Cox Colin Jenkins disputes that, saying neither gig gained or lost ground.

And whilst Steve added the he was convinced it was an accident, Rick Persich says that changes nothing.

He says it’s “bad seamanship” if one boat is close enough to hit the rudder of another.

And while he admits conditions were “difficult” he says the rules are clear and don’t distinguish between deliberate or accidental collisions.

Colin Jenkins says he has coxed and rowed for over 30 years and he’s fished commercially for over 10 years. He also holds a yacht master qualification, so he knows what he’s doing.

We’ll hear Colin’s thoughts on behalf of the Tregarthen’s crew later this week.

Rick says he has received some abuse on social media for the disqualification decision, but says he’s not bothered because he’s satisfied the right decision was made.

And while he says he understands the “extreme disappointment” felt by the Scilly women, he says the Spy crew should feel proud of being the world champions.

Irrespective of the outcome, the St Mary’s A crew gave spectators one of the most exciting finals for years and islander Todd Stevens sums up many locals’ social media posts with his view that ”the Tregs girls made Scilly proud.”

In the future, more technology could be used to help officials make decisions. Rick says the committee are talking to British Rowing about the equivalent of goal-line technology to help race marshalls with their judgments. That could include GPS-type equipment.

The committee has also looked into a matrix digital scoreboard but feels that would cost too much.

Newquay’s Spy crew were crowned the Women’s World Champions with Mounts Bay taking silver in Kensa. Polvarth gained the bronze for Roseland.

The Men’s World Champions were once again Falmouth in Black Rock, second was Caradon’s Amazon with Looe rowers in Talisman taking third place.

St Mary’s men in Emma Louise were third in Group B, St Agnes’ Shah crew were third in Group C and the Islander crew gained a trophy for coming top in Group E.

The Bonnet men secured first place in Group G.

St Mary’s women rowing Islander were third place in group C.

Spy won the Friday Women’s Veterans row for Newquay while Morgan took the Supervets title.

The Men’s Vets winner was Polvarth and Governor was the top Supervet crew.

There was another happier outcome over the weekend.

On Saturday night, 69-year-old Irish rower Peter Kavanagh was medically evacuated to Treliske after he collapsed in the Arklow crew gig, Invermore.

The quick response of Sally Pentecost, an off-duty West Cornwall Hospital Theatre Nurse is being credited for helping to save Peter’s life.

Sally’s been told she’ll be welcomed as a hero in Peter’s home town, 70km south of Dublin.



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