Truro River Surfboat Race 2010

This 10km race first began with Truro River Gig club organising a race from Mylor Harbour to the Vickery Holman building situated by the basin at Truro. The event was scheduled for the Easter saturday each year. Because of the increasing size of the World Gig Championships at the beginning of May on the Isles of Scilly crews have to ship their gigs to the islands earlier and therefore they have difficulty attending the Truro event, now scheduled for later in the year.

The April date suited the surfboat crews with rolling seats installed in the boats. It gave crews an opportunity to contest a distance race before the boats returned to their respective beaches.

Surfboat crews agreed to alternate the course rowed each year between the mens and womens crews. The timing of the race is scheduled to ensure that crews reach the lock gate at Truro on the high tide. In 2009 the Mens crew rowed from Mylor to Truro and the Womens crews rowed the return leg back to Mylor (and it saves moving trailers across the county).

The Truro River Surfboat Race 2010

Sunday April 25th

From Mylor (and Malpas) With Love

Last Sunday saw the surfboat season’s traditional curtain-raiser – the Truro River Race. In a break with tradition the annual monsoon and hurricane conditions that ordinarily bless this event took the year off and while there was a breeze, the sun turned up and conditions bordered on pleasant.

The Ladies had first crack with the sweeps starting in the water on the rocky beach below Restronguet Sailing Club. As the boats navigated out between the moored yachts there wasn’t a lot between them hinting that the sprints over the shorter courses of the Summer Series may be close run events.

By the time the strokes had settled into their race pace the Runners had eked out a two-length lead over Perran’s Rebel Angels and last year’s (near) Invincibles, Porthtowan. A combination of pregnancy, injury and volcanic eruption had conspired to deprive the latter of their regulars but Porthtowan have never put out an uncompetitive boat and their scratch crew had no intention of just making up the numbers. On their sterns the Fallen Angels and Bude raced side by side.

Over the mile to the first bend in the river the Runners stamped their authority on the race. Rating at only 20 or so strokes a minutes they gradually pulled away from the Rebels who sat at 25. It was a dominant statement of intent that reflected a solid winter’s training. If the Runners can now transfer their proven strength and stamina to the surf they will be the crew to beat this season.

By the King Harry Ferry, the Rebels had opened up a decent lead over ‘Towan but their sweep then did his best to give it away by choosing the wrong (long) route around some of the moored tankers. The gap was reduced to only a couple of lengths but, happily for the crestfallen sweep, his crew had enough left to repel Towan’s surge. The Fallen had also managed to put clear water between their boat and Bude and that was the order in which the crews finally finished albeit with only three minutes between second and fifth places.

The men saddled up at Sunny Corner and came under starter’s orders with gigs and flash boats streaking through them. Sportingly, Towan’s two boats, Bali and Betty decided to give the others a head start and lined up almost in touching distance of the cathedral walls. The goal-hangers from Perranporth, by contrast, were practically boarding the starter’s boat as the flag dropped and hared out into the lead. For one moment, a glorious moment, a famous one-two seemed possible – if only the race had been five and 7/8 miles shorter!

By the time the boats raced past The Heron, the Barracudas had opened up a substantial lead and Blue Bali was sitting comfortably in second. The Old Farts from Perranporth were blowing hard with Blue Betty breathing down their necks and the mixed crew from Perran (including Alice Bane who had also competed in the Ladies event) were keeping them both honest.

There were some cracking skirmishes with other crews in gigs and flash boats. One sweep who shall remain nameless (we’ll use the initials JR) proved that it was possible to fit a fifteen foot wide surfboat into a three foot gap between two flashboats (“Coming Through!”)

The Barracudas had parked up and were catching some rays by the time the peloton raced past Loe Beach. Apparently bored with rowing as a four Blue Bali decided to spice things up by throwing a rowlock overboard yet they still came home a comfortable second.

By now the Old Farts were on their uppers and the last thing they needed was a battle royal across Carrick Roads but that was precisely what Betty gave them. As the rescue boats warmed up the defibrillators the moorings mercifully came into view and the Oldies drew on their collective eons of experience to make it to the shore in third place. A couple of restorative brews (and a burger) later and all was well again in the world.

Thanks to everyone who took part and, in particular, to those who organised, started and provided safety cover – Peter Gaisford (risk assessment), Louise Gapp (timing), Sam Gapp (starter) and Alan Richards (collector of flotsam and jetsam)



Bude Runners.....                       53:24
Perran Rebel Angels                 55:29
Porthtowan Blue something    56:26
Perran Fallen Angels                57:45
Bude Newbies..............              58:36


Bude Barracudas.                     48:41
Porthtowan Blue Bali                53:15
Perran Old Farts...                     56:24
Porthtowan Blue Betty............. 57:05
Perran Mixed.....                         58:36


Map of the course

Truro River Surfboat Race


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