Portishead Pilot Gig Rowing Club host successful Somerset 525

Portishead Pilot Gig Club members taking part in the Somerset 525

Portishead Pilot Gig Club members taking part in the Somerset 525 - Credit: Isobel Jones

Portishead Pilot Gig Club put themselves firmly on the rowing map recently when they hosted the Somerset 525.

The virtual rowing competition saw over 320 entrants take part from 25 countries, from Pakistan to Poland and America to Australia as rowers competed in a choice of 5k, 2k and 500m races.

Some hardy rowers took part in all three and there were options for adaptive rowers and juniors as well to ensure everyone was catered for.

Rowers raced at home on a Concept 2 erg and submitted times and screenshots at the end of each day, with winners announced on Facebook.

Local competition was rife with Bristol Pilot Gig Club, Clevedon Gig Club, Clevedon Coastal and Portishead all entering individual rowers and teams in most age categories.


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Prizes were provided by a range of local sponsors, including BlockHouse Designs, Wildfire Property, Square Peg Mortgages and Portishead Quay Marinas, as more than 1,261,000 metres were rowed and 361 personal and season bests achieved.

“We were astounded by the amount of competitors taking part and the standard of competition," said Isobel Jones, part of the Somerset 525 organising committee.

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“We thought we might get 60-80 entries, mostly from our local teams, but with lockdown and people not able to physically row, we saw the entries creep up every day.

"People have said they have used this as motivation to keep up their fitness and it’s been so encouraging to see so many from around the world. We’ve had such a range of ages too, from 12 to 92! It just shows what a great and inclusive sport rowing is.”

The competition has raised nearly £3000 for the club and Jones added: “We decided to run the Somerset 525 as we needed to buy a cover for one our gigs, Odessa. However, we’ve also been able to raise enough money to pay for repairs to a second-hand gig which will mean we can bring more new rowers into the club."

Portishead took several medals, with Nancy Averis third in the Women’s 5k Vets, Tom Whitmore third in the Men’s 500m Vets and Klara Anstey second in the 500m Women’s vets and third in the Women’s 2k vets.

Overall the event was deemed a great success and plans are afloat to run it for a second year in 2022.

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