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Cornish Rowing Challenge

12 September 2012

Cornwall's top gig rowers go up against Team GB's Olympians including four gold medalists from London 2012 in a series of special races to be held in St Mawes.

In the first event of it's kind Team GB's Olympic Rowers are gearing up to take on Cornwall's top gig rowers in three races to be held in St Mawes on Wednesday, September 12.

Fresh off the back of their success at London 2012, the world-famous Team GB rowers, including Cornwall's golden-girl Helen Glover and the legend that is Katherine Grainger, will be swapping the sliding seats of Eton Dorney for tradional Cornish Pilot Gigs and the seas of St Mawes.

No less than 10 Team GB Rowing Olympic medallists will be competing off St Mawes Harbour against crews of top Cornish gig rowers in the nail biting challenge.

All three of Cornwall's rowing Olympic medallists Annie Vernon, Ed Coode (providing commentary throughout the racing) and Helen Glover will take part in what will be an ‘Olympic Rowing Regatta’ – but not as we know it!

The Cornish Rowing Challenge begins at 6.00pm with the first heat starting off Pendennis Point to St Mawes Quay in a single leg dash to challenge the coxed fours sliding seat (Team GB) and fixed seat (gig) crews for victory in the first race of the day.

Olympic spirit

Two further races will follow, starting and finishing off St Mawes, this time with the Team GB ladies rowing gigs against invited teams from local three clubs: Falmouth, Flushing & Mylor and Roseland Gig Clubs, and mixed teams from gig clubs from across Cornwall. It's a ladies only race to keep things fair!

The community of the Cornish harbourside village of St Mawes will host an afternoon and evening of shoreside activities on the quay, including embracing the Olympic spirit with a challenge to the public to take on the Team GB rowers ashore on Ergo rowing machines.  

A BBQ on the Quay and hog roast at St Austell Brewery’s Rising Sun pub will add to the festival atmosphere of what will be a ‘must see’ event. Pints of Tribute Ale at the pub will be on sale for a special price of £2.50 and for every pint sold on the night, £1 will be donated to ShelterBox, who the event is in aid of.

The Falmouth Marine Band are also set to make an appearance adding to the party atmosphere.

Annie Vernon is an Ambassador for ShelterBox, the international disaster relief charity that is based in Helston, Cornwall. Funds raised at the event will go towards helping ShelterBox to continue delivering emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people affected by disasters worldwide. There will be a ShelterBox stand and the iconic green boxes and tents that the charity sends to disaster zones on display.

Annie Vernon, the inspiration and event organiser behind the Cornish Rowing Challenge said: 'I'm thrilled that so many of our GB rowers will be joining me in Cornwall to take on the county's gig rowers on their own turf, and to be honest right now I couldn't pick who's going to triumph.

'The GB rowers are at the peak of their fitness and are amongst some of the best athletes in the world; but they've spent the last month partying!

'The gig rowers will be fresh from racing at Newquay and will be much more familiar with the technique of gig rowing - especially the buoy turns, which is something we're going to have to learn!

'I can't wait to see who's going to come out on top. I hope this event will show off the best of Cornwall and the best of rowing.'

Additional parking will be available in the English Heritage car parks – follow signage once entering St Mawes. A road closure will be in place from 4.30pm to 8.30pm to allow maximum spectators and to add to the celebratory atmosphere.

It is recommended that visitors from Falmouth use the St Mawes Ferry where possible, a discounted return fare will be available for the 15:15, 16:15 or 17:15 outbound ferries and the 20:45 & 21:45 return ferries.

Spectator boats will be running to watch the racing close up, with a £2 minimum donation to ShelterBox, departing around 10 minutes before race starts.

Generous sponsors and supporters of the Cornish Rowing Challenge to date include the Team GB Rowers, Roseland Gig Club, British Rowing, Seasalt, VisitCornwall, Fal River, Event Cornwall, St Austell Brewery, A & P Falmouth, University College Falmouth and St Mawes Harbours Commissioners, with wide support from the Parish Council, businesses and clubs in the village.

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Cornish Rowing Challenge