New gig for Swanage Sea Rowing Club

Swanage Sea Rowing Club in Dorset has started the season in a buoyant mood with a brand new training gig boat, an ambitious plan for a new racing gig, and an aim to recruit more young rowers.

There’s also a new person at the helm – newly elected chair Adrian Charters, who was the club’s winner of both Member of the Year and Rower of the Year in 2023.

Swanage sea rowing launch of new training boat

New training gig Ballard is officially launched with its inaugural crew on Saturday 6th April 2024

Inclusive club with members aged 12 to 90

Swanage Sea Rowing Club was formed in 2001 and now has 120 members, with 90 percent living within five miles of Swanage.

It’s an inclusive club with members aged 12 to 90 and offers social rowing as well as competitive Cornish Pilot Gig rowing

At one time, gig racing was confined to the South West of England with Swanage the farthest east, but now its popularity has grown with clubs across England and even one in Wales.

Chair of Swanage sea rowing club Adrian Charters

New chair of Swanage Sea Rowing Club Adrian Charters

“Working with The Swanage School”

Chair of Swanage Sea Rowing Club Adrian Charters said:

“We’ve got two main aims for 2024 – to replace one of our wooden gigs which we use for competitions and to build up our junior section.

“We’ve successfully been working with The Swanage School and have started up an after school club to introduce young people to sea rowing, but we want to do more and encourage all young people to come down and see what we do.

“Initially we offer three try out sessions to anyone who is interested and then they can decide whether to join the club. Most of the juniors choose to join in the competitions and enjoy the use of the rowing machines in the boat house.”

Swanage school pupils rowing

The Swanage School students take advantage of the amazing opportunity to learn how to gig row

Official launch of new training gig

Updating the club’s facilities is also a priority and a new training boat called Ballard was officially launched on Saturday 6th April 2024 by Swanage town mayor Tina Foster at the boathouse on Marshall Row near to Swanage Pier.

The club has two other training gigs, Dancing Ledge and Tilly Whim are also made of GRP (glass reinforced plastic). This means they are more robust than the wooden boats that are kept for use in competitions.

The two wooden gigs are around 20 years old which is an exceptional age for boats like this, so the club has embarked on a challenging fundraising exercise to buy a new, lighter wooden racing gig to replace the oldest gig Old Harry.

Adrian said:

“We need about £35,000 for the new gig – we’ve already put aside £11,000 for the purchase but we still need to fundraise. Fortunately we’ve got a very enthusiastic sub committee who are on the case applying for grants and organising events.

“There’s two regattas – the open regatta in June and the nationally recognised Supervets Championship at the end of September. The Supervets is a really big deal and was so successful last year, even though it was the first time that we had hosted it as a championship event.

“The feedback was fantastic with many rowers from other clubs telling us it was their best competition of the year. We are lucky in Swanage that we can easily see all the racing across the bay, so it makes for a good spectator sport.

“We do recognise that while it attracts a lot of people into the town, which is good for local businesses, it can be a bit disruptive with so many boats on the beach, so we’re really grateful for all the support that we get from the local community.”

Swanage sea rowing launch of new training boat

Swanage town mayor Tina Foster (centre) officially names and launches the new training gig

Positive mental health

While many get their enjoyment from watching the gigs out on the sea, those who take part as rowers say that the benefits are not just physical but also help to foster positive mental health.

Adrian added:

“We have found that many, especially post pandemic, have found getting out on a boat has made a real difference to their lives. We live in such a lovely place with a beautiful bay and it’s good to make the most of it.

“That’s why we really want to invest in the club for the future – we have a long term goal to expand the boathouse to provide a better gym and a social space – and by doing so we will hope to provide even more benefit to our local community.”

Super Vets championship at Swanage 2023
Timothy Crabb

Swanage Sea Rowing Club members at the very successful Swanage Supervets Rowing Regatta in October 2023

Further information

  • Regatta dates for 2024 are Swanage Sea Rowing Regatta on Saturday 8th June and Swanage Supervets Rowing Regatta on Saturday 28th September
  • Anyone interested in joining the club should contact the membership secretary Pete Witney via email
  • More about Swanage Sea Rowing Club is on its website, Instagram and Facebook

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