‘Twas a wild and stormy Cornish night, and although this was 1994, to anyone peering round the door of The Tinners Arms, it could easily have been 1694! The few locals who had ventured out were huddled around the open fire, and in the dim flickering light, could easily have been mistaken for Smugglers or Wreckers talking over evil deeds and secret plans…instead of which, they were gig rowers, talking over evil deeds and secret plans!
In Zennor, time stands still. From the Giants in the granite quoits above to the Mermaid in the cove below, there is still the possibility of magic… So when some nameless, fool, said, “Why don’t we start our own gig club?” … “Why don’t we get our own boat?” … “Why don’t we blast out a section of cliff, construct a passable road across the fields to the cove and clear the beach of 500,000 tonnes of granite boulders?” … and, “Why don’t we have another pint?” You can understand the resolve of the club from its very inception.
So Zennor Gig Club was born, and upon a wave of enthusiasm and bewildering generosity of many of the founder members, our first gig “Senara” was ordered. Named after the patron Saint of Zennor, she was built upside down, on the first floor of an old barn in Paul (near Mousehole), which was fine until we had to get her out, by Leon and Martin Pezzack, of Mousehole. Launched in 1995, she promptly won her first race at Hayle.
Originally Zennor rowed out of Marazion, by kind permission of Mounts Bay Gig Club, as we always knew rowing out of Zennor was unlikely to ever happen, but Marazion being an unsheltered storm beach, we frequently found ourselves moving into Penzance harbour. Eventually Penzance Sailing Club invited us to stay, become affiliates of their club and benefit from their clubhouse facilities, we soon accepted, and remain there to this day.
In 1999, the club’s second gig “Morvoren” (Maid of the Sea…Mermaid!) was built, a little controversially in Dartmouth, by Brian Pomeroy, and again, won her first ever race at Marazion, only to be disqualified as a certain unnamed Zennor coxswain took the wrong course and missed a buoy!
As a club, we have taken part in three London River Races, on the Thames for 22 miles between Richmond and The Isle of Dogs, 1995, 1997 and 2004.
In 2002 the club took Morvoren to Germany, and rowed her 200 miles down the River Danube to Vienna, thanks to our friends in Passau, Bavaria. No other club had or has done such a thing, and it was a fantastic and beautiful experience.
We doubled that European adventure, by taking part in the Vogalonga, a traditional non motor driven boat race/parade around the canals of Venice, in 2005. Senara was one of 1500 boats and 5000 rowers who took part. To sit drinking a beer, next to the Grand Canal in Venice, with Senara tied up next to us almost beneath The Rialto Bridge is a treasured memory I and the other 7 members present will never forget.
After the Vogalonga, we went back to Germany for a further 180 mile on the Danube.
2006 was a big year for the club. We picked up our third new gig, “Melusine”, named after a legendary celtic Mermaid with 2 tails, and boy was She quick! Although she didn’t win her first race, which happened to be at The Scilly World Championships, she was placed a club best ever 5th place in the Men’s World Championships, and top ten for the Ladies! 2006 also saw the club finally achieve the Scilly row, from Sennen Cove to The Hats Buoy in Scilly, we took 6 hours 11 minutes. Still in 2006, we became County Mixed Veteran Champions at Saltash which was exciting and unexpected.
Zennor Gig Club races every weekend when it can, trains 2-3 nights a week, when it can, and maintains it’s not inconsiderable presence in the Gig rowing circle.