Why not have a go at Gig Rowing with Lower Thames Rowing Club?

People often associate the word ‘Rowing’ with Olympians clad in Lycra, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race and, to the other extreme, having a gentle paddle around a village lake in a hire boat.  Coastal Gig rowing sits somewhere between all of them….it’s a mixture of social rowing, competing against other clubs and going on tours/holidays.  The elitist stigma that attaches itself to the sport does not exist in coastal rowing, it is open to people of all ages and varying abilities.

So what is Gig rowing?  Well, the boats you see our Olympians row are called Fine Boats.  They are very light, designed for out and out speed, have sliding seats and usually rowed on inland waterways.  Gigs are fixed seat boats, much heavier and capable of being rowed in both rough and calm conditions.  There are many different types of Gig, ranging from 6-oared wooden boats with a traditional clinker hull and others built from fibreglass with only 4 oarsmen.  Regardless of the build, Gigs will generally have a coxswain as somebody needs to keep them pointing in the right direction!

Lower Thames Rowing Club was founded in 2002 by 8 members of a local yacht club who acquired a fleet of 16ft Skiffs (a smaller version of a Gig) with a view to promote and grow coastal rowing in the region.  Since 2002 the club has gone from strength to strength with around 80 members, a fleet of 4 Gigs, 2 Skiffs and a number of smaller boats available for use. Gigs will carry 6 people (4 rowers, a cox and passenger) and Skiffs 4 (3 rowers and a cox).  We are based in Leigh-on-Sea with our boats based on Two tree Island and will shortly be enjoying a new location near to the Old Town.  Two Tree Island gives us unrivalled access to the water – we can launch at almost any time during daylight hours and not dependent upon the tide.  From here we can enter the Ray which then joins the Thames by the Pier head.

Gig Rowing with the Lower Thames Rowing Club

Why would I want to try Gig Rowing?  Well, aside from being a fantastic way to get fit, it’s great fun, lots to offer and very social.  We are a mixed club with various ages and abilities – the whole community are welcome to try it!  Our boats are out on the water almost every weekend, be it for a trip out past the Pier to the Mulberry Harbour and back, a gentle row along the seafront stopping for a coffee on route, or a row around Canvey Island.  There aren’t really any limits as to where we can go – all we need is water and planning!  We even had a crew go out on Christmas Day for a pre-turkey row!  During the summer months we put on additional rows during the week and in the evenings – there is nothing better than being out on the water during a warm summers evening. Oddly enough, there is also nothing better than being out there on a cold crisp sunny winters day.

The racing calendar see’s us competing in events all across the South East from Norwich to Portsmouth.  The race distance can vary, some can be 5 miles, others over 20 miles.  We regularly participate in the Great River Race which starts near London Docklands and finishes just past Richmond.  In 2014 our men’s senior crew came 7th out of 350 boats which was a great achievement!  We also participated in a charity row from the Southend Marine Activity Centre to the Olympic Stadium – a mere 42.5 miles in about 10 hours.  That was tough!  We do enjoy success at most of the events we participate in – our racing crews train hard throughout the year, come rain or shine!  And yes, some of them do wear Lycra…..but oddly enough do not resemble Olympians!

Every year our touring captain offers adventure rows either in the UK or abroad.  2015 will see 12 members head over to France for a week long row down the River Rance through Brittany and finishing at the Atlantic coast.  We also put on regular camping rows be it over to Kent or somewhere up the Essex coast.  Those trips are great fun – the crews often return with some amusing stories.

So, does this sound like something you may be interested in?  Do you fancy taking trying something new?  If so, we offer a free monthly Learn to Row course where you will learn about rowing, given the all important a safety demonstration/talk and then get your first taster in a boat with some of our very experienced crew.  After that you will be entitled to 2 free rows before deciding if you wish to formally join.

Hopefully see you on the water!


This article was written by Nick Faux from Lower Thames Rowing Club.

For more information please contact Nick Faux on Nick.Faux@lowerthamesrowingclub.com or visit www.lowerthamesrowingclub.com
Twitter – @LowerThamesRC