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BRNC take part in first gig race of season

20 March 2018
Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) has taken part in Cornish Pilot Gig Association's (CPGA) first race of the season the formidable '3 Rivers Race'.

BRNC take part in first gig race of seasonOne of the longest races on the CPGA calendar starts under the Tamar Bridge between Plymouth and Saltash and sees the crews compete in a unique and gruelling five mile figure of eight course taking in the Rivers Tamar, Lynher and Plym. 

Organised by the Caradon Gig Club the '3 Rivers' is the traditional Gig season opener which this year saw 156 crews compete in the men's and women's races.

BRNC's men's crew of seven were made up of staff and Young Officers undergoing their Initial Warfare Officer Foundation Course, racing in Bacchante, one of the gigs owned by the College and donated to the club by the Britannia Association. Female crew IWO(F) students competed successfully with Royal Marines Tamar for the women's race.

The timed race, started in heats, saw all 79 male crews on the water simultaneously. BRNC completed the distance in just over an hour finishing 67th overall.

We are a relatively new team and we were pleased with our performance. It was the fastest time that the college had recorded on three rivers with a predominantly student crew

Midshipman George Griffin, captain of the BRNC gig crew

Midshipman George Griffin, aged 20, from Swindon, is the current Captain of the BRNC gig crew.  He took up gig racing at the College and has previous experience of kayaking.

He said, "We are a relatively new team and we were pleased with our performance. It was the fastest time that the college had recorded on three rivers with a predominantly student crew.  It was quite a tough race because of the distance. We needed a lot of grit and determination to get us through.

“We'd done a couple of practice rows previously, but this was the farthest we'd rowed before. The relatively short periods that cadets and IWO(F) spend at the college and the high tempo of the training means we do not often get a chance to practise together and race day was the first time we had all got into the boat together as a crew; most of us for our first ever competitive gig race."

Next up for the BRNC crew is the Dartmouth Town gig club regatta which will lead into the World Pilot Gig Championships in the Isles of Scilly in May. The crew intend to take two boats out to the event with female rowers from the College again contributing to other service crews.

Mid Griffin said, "The 3 Rivers was a good training race for those of us who had never raced before. We now know what a racing event is like and how to prepare on race days, so we are now much better prepared for the championships in the Isles of Scilly."

The Cornish pilot gig is a six-oared rowing boat, built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet long with a beam of four feet ten inches.

It is recognised as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues going back as far as the late 17th century.

The original purpose of the Cornish pilot gig was as a general work boat, and the craft was used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels off the Atlantic.

At the time, the race would be the first gig to get their pilot on board a vessel to secure the job, and hence the payment.

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