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Penzance & Back Challenge 2018


The ladies’ A crew of Tresco & Bryher Gig Rowing Club has launched a bid to be the first female gig crew to row from Scilly to Penzance – and back.

 

The Challenge

The epic challenge will see the Czar Girls row nearly 100 miles in total across one of the most notorious stretches of sea in the country. 

Starting from Tresco's New Grimsby harbour, the ladies will row out past the Eastern Isles, past Wolf Rock lighthouse and head for the mainland. As the Land's End peninsula comes into sight, the feeling of relief will be palpable, but the challenge is nowhere near over yet, with some 15 miles still to row.

Even upon reaching Penzance, the challenge is only half complete - the girls have to row back to Scilly again the following day!

If they are successful, the Czar Girls will become the first ladies’ gig crew to complete the Penzance and back challenge, 50 years since the first successful completion by a men’s crew.

Due to the nature of the crossing, the weather has to be perfect, but the ladies are hoping to make their first attempt at the challenge in early September 2018.

To help the Czar Girls hit their target, you can sponsor them online at JustGiving or send a cheque to: Tresco & Bryher Rowing Club, c/o The Island Office, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, TR24 0QQ

 

The Gig

The event will celebrate the 140th birthday of the Czar – one of the few remaining Scillonian pilot gigs, built in 1879.

The Czar has a noble and enthralling history of lifesaving and pilotage on the Isles of Scilly. Known as ‘The Cut Throat Gig’, she has a seventh rowing position – designed specifically to beat the Golden Eagle gig.

On her first day on Scilly, the Czar went to the rescue of two ships, and she saved countless lives over her distinguished career.

Today, Tresco and Bryher Rowing Club maintain and race the Czar, keeping this fundamental part of Scillonian history alive.

The Crew

The crew is made up of islanders from Tresco, Bryher and St Mary’s. From Tresco, the rowers are Garden Visitor Centre supervisor Emma Bagnall-Oakeley, Islandshare administrator Michelle Oyler and Tresco Stores’ Heather Meyrick, joined by assistant head gardener of Tresco Abbey Garden Jon Taylor as coxswain.

Joining them are Bryher islanders Francesca McNeill of Hell Bay Hotel and Joanne Matthews of Bryher Campsite, as well as St Mary’s lady Dee Williams.

The Czar Girls came 11th out of more than 140 ladies crews in the 2018 World Pilot Gig Championships, but this latest challenge is on another scale.

The crew has been training hard, with long rows around Tresco and Bryher to prepare them for the gruelling journey (they’ve even been practicing how to eat whilst rowing, to keep their strength up during the journey!)

Keeping History Alive

The ladies are attempting to raise £3,500 to help maintain and preserve the Czar and the other beautiful traditional gigs under the stewardship of Tresco and Bryher Rowing Club.

The club's fundraising helps ensure these unique pieces of Scillonian history are kept alive, maintained and used for the seafaring purposes for which they were built, not merely consigned to museums.

To help the Czar Girls hit their target, you can sponsor them online at JustGiving or send a cheque to: Tresco & Bryher Rowing Club, c/o The Island Office, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, TR24 0QQ

Supported by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas

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