The Club in a Box program is designed to get new gig rowing clubs up and running by lending them GRP training gigs (Glass Reinforced Plastic) and other essential rowing equipment. Getting these fledgling clubs out on the water is the most important step towards encouraging local rowers to get involved and generate local interest, allowing the clubs to expand and then purchase their own equipment.
As part of the new initiative, the loaned equipment will then be moved to a new club to help deal with the massively growing demand from those wishing to get involved with the increasingly popular sport of gig rowing, not only in the South West but across the UK and beyond.
At a special launch at Rossiters Quay in Christchurch, the very first GRP Club in a Box gig, the Seven Stars – named after the very first St Austell Brewery pub which opened its doors back in 1863 – was handed over to the CPGA Chairman Shane Sullivan by builders Rossiters Yachts Ltd, in the presence of many of the gig rowing fraternity and those who have supported the new program from the outset, including Plymouth Towbar and Trailers, Kernow Boats, MRD Gig Covers, Gigass Cushions and Sutton Oarmakers.
Commenting at the event, Shane said, “What a great day in Christchurch. We had club representatives from Poole, Swanage, London Cornish, Lyme Regis, Clevedon, Bridport, Langstone Cutters and Bristol to name just a few, all there to see the launch of this fantastic new initiative. It’s great to be able to get new clubs on the first rung of the gig rowing ladder and to see how strongly the CPGA, with the help of British Rowing and St Austell Brewery, are promoting our wonderful sport to wider audiences.”
While the Seven Stars was launched at Christchurch, her first home will actually be on the Thames, helping the London Cornish get up to speed. Pete Chalkley, Chair of the London Cornish Pilot Gig Club, said, "This a real boost for Cornish Pilot Gig rowing in London, taking what is already a fast growing sport to a potentially massive new audience. Gigs are safe and sturdy and great for trying out rowing and a different kind of exercise. With this new gig we can provide the chance for lots more people to give it go and also help rowers who want to race access the growing opportunities to do that around the London area. We're incredibly grateful for the support of the CPGA and all the partners involved that have made this possible"
From April 2018, the Seven Stars will then move on to a one-year stint at her second port of call, Newhaven in Sussex. In the meantime, the second gig, which is yet to be named, will be heading to closer waters to help out the TMSC Torpoint rowers for two years.
According to Lisa Hocking at the club, "TMSC Rowers are ecstatic to have been offered the second Club in a Box training gig as it will open a lot more possibilities for us to become an inclusive and established gig rowing club and to promote Torpoint as a water sport destination. We are now planning a 15 mile sponsored row this summer to raise funds for the purchase of a traditional Cornish Pilot Gig which we will then able to race in.
Launching the Seven Stars on to the water, British Rowing’s Director of Membership & Rowing Community, Phil Hornsey said, “British Rowing is very happy to be supporting the CPGA in getting more people into the sport. Cornish Pilot Gig rowing is growing fast outside of its traditional heartland in the south west of England, and the Club in a Box initiative is a great way to provide new clubs with what they really need, at a time they need it most.”
For more information about the Club in a Box initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of: Rhiannon Bailey (SW Participation Manager British Rowing) and David Callaghan of London Cornish Pilot Gig Club and TMSC rowers