Derwentwater-based Lakeland Rowing Club has not allowed lockdown to put paid to its racing ambitions, having won two golds and three silvers at last week’s Gig Rower indoor world championships.
The event was created by the organisers of the cancelled Scilly Isles’ World Pilot Gig Championships, to give competitors who had been training for the gruelling sea-rowing event an alternative focus.
The seeded four-day event, staged from 23rd-26th April was open to any sea, river or lake rowers with access to an indoor rowing machine and attracted entrants from as far away as Australia, Hong Kong and French Polynesia.
Lakeland RC entered ten rowers aged from 16 to 68, using the Zoom app to compete as a virtual team from their homes around Cumbria, and submitting screen shots of the final distances shown on their rowing machine displays.
Club secretary David Pratt, 57, from Borrowdale, took gold medal in men’s Group I, rowing a personal best total of 1998 metres in the final seven-minute race. He said: “Taking part in the Gig Rower event has given my lockdown fitness programme a real focus. The event was hard, but completing each daily challenge on a video link with fellow Lakeland members meant that I rowed harder and further than if I been doing it on my own. It felt like a real team effort.”
Lakeland RC captain Simon Bamforth, 30, from Whitehaven, won gold in men’s Group K, covering 1926 metres in the seven minutes, while the greatest distance recorded by any of the club’s competitor was a massive 2020 metres in the men’s Group E final by 60-year-old Nick Cowan, from Eaglesfield.
Nick was the fastest Lakeland entrant in every race, beating those who won their groups, and took silver in the championship’s 50 and over category. He was also the event’s highest placed rower aged over 60 by a margin of more than 70 places.
Lakeland RC junior member and Keswick School student Adam Wilson, 16, was the youngest entrant in the whole event to reach the final, where he took silver in Group J. Adam covered 1957 metres in the seven minutes, losing gold to an adult rower from London by just five metres.
Club member Zoe Brain, 25, competing in Durham University colours, took the silver spot in women’s Group B with a distance of 1869 metres.
Andy Richardson, 68, from Cockermouth, the club’s oldest competitor, found competing while in lockdown with his extended family something of a challenge. “On the second day of the event, I was on my rowing machine in the garage, settling into the mentally demanding mid-section of the race when, much to the amusement of my fellow Lakeland RC competitors, my concentration was shattered by the charming intrusion of my three-year-old granddaughter, Lila,” he explained.
“I quickly discovered that it’s surprisingly hard to row when fending off a clambering child. Lila had a go on the machine – there’s definite potential there I think – and I had to finish the session on my own later in the day,” added Andy.