The Bang Average C’s Scilly Billy Guide for Gig Weekend Virgins
Take 3 months of gruelling training, 120 boats, 349 gig-crazy crews with geared-up coxes in tow (with keenness, not coke), and 2,094 rowers ready and raring to go after two cancelled years of Champs thanks to a certain pandemic (cheers Covid)…drop them all on a tiny island 28 miles out in the North Atlantic and what do you get? A
cracking Covid party, Bank Holiday booze up, competition of fitness freaks (granted followed by a world renowned knees up) – the World Pilot Gig Championships. Set in the stunning St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, it’s the gig rowing event of the year (or last three years in this instance) and we were ready, set, and GO!
The Trials of Training (Abby)
Back in January training began. After copious amounts of calendar faffing ( though not quite as much as the oar faffing 😉 we were set to go. Three or four sessions a week and we soon found ourselves becoming fitter, starting to beat our crew records and feel the buzz about the competition ahead. Training sessions included long timed pieces from Temple Meads back to the Cottage; sprints of varying lengths with our favourite ‘ active recoveries’ (secret crying); 5 minutes of pure pain at the hardest we could row followed by a short but blissful rest, and of course, rate builds from 26 strokes per minute all the way up to 34 over 15 minutes. Whoever designed the training plan is an evil genius!
Going through these intense training schedules on top of all the daily twists and turns life can throw at you at, helped our bonds on and off the water become stronger. As the weeks passed and race weekend drew closer, we felt like solid teams filled with confidence. Right at the last minute our men’s crews had some particularly difficult curveballs to deal with, but managed everything that arose admirably. We wish speedy recoveries to those who couldn’t make it to the Scillies.
The Accommodation (Kate)
You’re going to the Scillies, you got into a crew,
Finding accommodation is the next thing to do.
Gigrower’s popping off, with places filling fast,
Sarah T’s helping out, so that you won’t be last.
I thought I was going to have to sleep in a gig,
Or maybe even top and tail with Tig.
Clocks ticking, countdown is on,
Perhaps we’ll sleep in the boat if all goes wrong.
The Journey – Bang Average Cs .VS. The Sickallonian (Lou)
We left Bristol with enough stuff to last 3 months rather than 3 nights and drove down to Penzance. Luckily my parents put us up on Thursday night and they were not too perturbed by the fact that the number of people staying had got higher each day the preceding week.
Unluckily, the wheels on Roo’s car decided they wanted to take their own direction, but thankfully she made it to Cornwall in one piece (the car did not!) We were met with fresh scones and there was only a minor squabble about the order of jam and cream (cream first).
The following day the Scillonian was rammed with gig rowers and there was a definite buzz of excitement aboard. Luckily the crossing was flat so everyone kept their breakfast down and we even got the bonus of seeing dolphins.
Sadly we missed the ladies vets complete the Aggy race which saw both crews end up in heat B, we did then get to see them in an incredibly competitive heat which was so close it wasn’t until the results came in later in the day that the A crew realised they were through to the final on saturday where they came 10th. Ladies vets B also did amazingly and were not far behind finishing 17th.
Mens Super vets looked strong in both the Aggy race and the nut rock finishing 32nd. It was great to be able to watch such experienced crews showing us how it’s done. They definitely had the right idea getting the rowing over early so the real fun could begin!
The Aggy Race (Hannah)
The time had come, what we’d been training for months for.
It’s the same as a temple meads – cottage run. It’ll be over before you know it. It’s just rowing.
The mantra we repeated to ourselves on the way out to the start line.
After a few practice starts an some rate building pieces, we were there. This is it! “Look up and
take it all in” 120 boats. 720 fierce competitors. 120 coxwains raring to go!
We caught a glimpse of Womens A in concord. To say they were in the zone is putting it lightly.
They were ready for battle!
The dreaded count down started.
Forwards and ready.
Tips on the water.
Go. Go. Go. Echoed around us and we were off!
Do it for your club. Do it for your crew. Do it for yourself.
Catch. Drive. Off the legs. Swing. Lean. Bodies in the Bow. Arms away. Reach. Repeat.
It was incredible.
“You got this girls. Together. Swing. Drive. Incredible. I can see Young Bristol. You’re doing
amazing. As a crew. We’ve got water. This is yours. Yes we’ve taken samphire. Let’s go for
another. Drive off the legs.”
Then the clashing started. We’d heard about it before. Just keep rowing. Find water and drive.
We’d already had the OK from Will to not worry about the oars. Just keep rowing!
Boats on either side. “We have water! We’re nearly there. We’ve got this. Go for 30. Big lift.
Drive 1. Drive 2- drive 11. Uh reach 1. Reach 2. Last 10 c’mon! Gimme 5 more! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Go
easy. You did it!!!!!”
After the Aggy Race Came The Heats! Novice Crew, Novice Race Cox! (Matt)
On Saturday afternoon lots of excitement in the marshalling area and some more starts. As we all now know you can’t prepare anyone for the experience that is a Nut Rock race…
An awesome Bristol start(!) in H heat and right in the middle of the pack. But alas distance misjudgements and inexperience cost us. Power and commitment right there like every crew – 10th overall in heat. Destroyed bodies and everything given!
One end of the start line for the Sunday morning race but what a transformation! Race heads, focus and silence in the boat. Explosive start, top end of the pack. “Girls you’re smashing it!” Kept it controlled, long and full power every stroke – Outstanding row and 5th position in heat! Best of the weekend! This crew just sussed racing! Absolutely awesome! *Cox tears up to see it!* More destroyed bodies – the faces said it all! Such a good performance!
One more race to go!….
Final race and raft up – from within a dinosaur 🦖 (Roo)
It’s somehow mid-sunday, and already it’s time,
Get in, race head on and get the boat to the line.
No looking back, just keep focusing on your oar,
Breath in, breath out, engage that core.
GO! Coxes yell and hard pins rattle.
1,5 10 – here we go. The final battle.
Leave it all in the boat, give it you all,
Bend your stretcher, feel that pull.
50 strokes to go
The grain barge to somewhere?
Doesn’t matter – just row. Gasp for the air
You cross the line, you’re done.
You probably did well?
Though in reality your not sure,
As in the most, you just looked at your oar.
And this is the part dear reader, where I may digress
As after this point I was an utter mess.
We rafted up well, with crews either side
And shouted and sang, we laughed and we cried.
Cracked open the bubbles and hugged our mates
And I sat there and waited for my dinosaur to inflate.
A blur of shouting for all our favourite teams,
And being fed port through a dinosaur costume seam.
I can’t tell you what happened, as my vision was impaired
But I don’t think the scillies was really that prepared.
For the Bang Average C’s, and (whatever next?)
A loud, orange rowing T-Rex.
For Gig rowing is a lot of things, but it is certainly a sport
That a drunk dinosaur can still do, even after too much port.
🚣🏼♀️ The Big Night Out, The Morning After, and Kangaroo Court! 🚣🏼♀️ (Natalie)
After a bazillion calories burnt, countless hours spent in a boat, and big cheers for the crews who bossed it to the podium, it was finally time to get bevved! The Bishop, The Atlantic, Jack’s Bar, The Scillonian Club and the infamous Mermaid…for a small island, St Mary’s certainly isn’t short of pubs! We raised our glasses to months of preparation and hard work, celebrating with our crews in style – cider, spirits, singing, and finally questionable dancing on the tables to top the night off before traipsing back to the tent to crash out after an absolutely cracking weekend.
Suffice to say, the majority of Scilly had splitting headaches by sunrise – but nothing some water, paracetamol and a big breakfast can’t fix! If a banging headache and crippling beer fear weren’t enough to cope with after a knackering few days, it was time to gather at The Club for Kangaroo Court – the chance for crews to mock each other for any moronic actions and pay the price in (at the time, repulsive) rum. Lots of laughs had by all, it was the sad moment for the Bang Average C’s to reluctantly board the Scillonian back to the mainland.
TOP TIP: Book from Thursday to at least Tuesday – it’s never long enough!
The journey back… (Lou)
We felt like heroes as the Scillonian pulled out of at Mary’s harbour, the club members still on scilly came to wave us off and Betty stoggs led us singing sea shanties. Again we saw dolphins on a nice flat sailing. We then spent the car journey back alternating between dozing (not the driver), reminiscing over our favourite moments, trying to book accommodation for 2023 and impersonating Matt yelling at other boats as he coxed us. (“JOKER MOVE ASIDE. I HAVE THE WATER, MOVE ASIDE JOKER!”).
Only another 50 weeks until we can do it all again!