With teams representing Cornwall, Devon, Bristol and Somerset in Boys and Girls Under 18, Ladies and Mens Vets, as well as the Ladies and Mens Open events, a full card of County racing was smuggled into Caradon’s already busy rowing regatta which drew a large crowd to the riverside under the shadow of the Tamar Bridge.
As Cornish Pilot Gig Association Chairman Shane Sullivan said, “This was a truly landmark event for us and a real stepping stone to help us build the sport on a wider basis moving forward. We wanted the first National County Championships to create as much impact as possible and we certainly got that here today with such great racing in front of an amazing crowd.”
Cornwall swept the board in each of the categories, though not without some strong challenges along the route up and downstream from the bridge, with first blood – and the very first National County Championship Trophy – going by a very wide margin to the Cornish Girls Under 18 team, consisting of Tegan Baker of Rame Rowing Club, Tara Wilson from host team Caradon, Maddie Weston of Boscastle, Leah McClaren from Hayle, Tegwyn Hagen from Coverack and Stella Mitchell from Fowey, ably coxed by Jack Baker from Rame. Devon’s girls rowed valiantly but in the end the Cornish team proved too strong, building up an unassailable lead down the final home leg in front of an appreciative crowd of rowers and spectators on the Saltash riverbank.
More Cornish success was to follow, with the Boys Under 18 team beating Devon into second place and Somerset into third. The Ladies Vets finished in similar fashion, while in the Mens Vets a close fought battle saw Cornwall finish on top with Devon in second, Bristol in third place and Somerset in fourth.
Cornwall’s Ladies led from the start of their race and came home with a good margin against Devon, Bristol and Somerset, the race finishing in that order with a good tussle for second place and, despite a flying start by all the teams in the Men’s Open, Cornwall eventually drew ahead of the field to create a good winning margin while Bristol forged ahead of the following pack to take second, with Devon in third and Somerset bringing the National County Championships to a close in fourth place.
As the prizes were awarded, Shane Sullivan thanked Caradon Gig Rowing Club for hosting the first National County Championships and added, “This event is something we have been planning for a few years now but as soon as we announced it this year, the response from all of the counties involved has been fantastic and the quality of the rowing seen here today bodes well for next year’s event being even more closely fought, as well as attracting an even wider field.”
Commenting on the company’s ongoing partnership with the CPGA through its flagship Tribute Pale Ale, St Austell Brewery Marketing and Communication Director Jeremy Mitchell said, “We are very proud to have played our own small part in the amazing growth of gig rowing, guided skilfully by the CPGA. Getting the first county teams together was always going to be a challenge, but the event has been a real success and is a true milestone in the development and recognition of the sport both nationally and, ultimately, internationally.”