My gig rowing story… Tommy

Your Committee has been working on a project over the last six months to bring together all information pertinent to the club (from its organisation, the ‘types’ of rowing we offer, training, selection, and policies on our equipment) in the form of a Welcome Pack for new members, and a guide for rowing. Thank you to everyone who has helped with it. As part of this project, I have collected a series of “my gig rowing stories” from a selection of members in the club, hopefully capturing different types of rowers, from out-and-out racers, to the very beginners. The Welcome Pack is almost there (delayed as yours truly was hospitalised and has been in recovery), but I thought I’d share the stories in a series of features on the website.

We start the series with our current chairman, Tommy:

I’m currently in my 7th year of rowing. It all started while I was studying for my masters degree at Falmouth Uni. A friend of mine roped me in and, having always been pretty sporty and keen to try new things, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I joined FMPGC out of chance. Since then the club has become a huge part of my life and through it I’ve met some of my closest friends. We moved to Cornwall 8 years ago, not knowing anyone, being part of the club has given Polly and I an amazing group of friends. One of the highlights was the two-gig escort we had as we sailed up Mylor Creek from the church on our wedding day. It’s a wonderful club, full of great people, top facilities and brilliant coaches.

I’m definitely a racing rower. Pretty much from day one I’ve wanted to compete. I struggle not to want to race even when training!

I enjoy so many things about gig rowing. The clunk of six oars in unison, the splash of the catch, the run of water under the boat, the history, the heritage, the characters, the competition, the challenge to make each stroke better than the next, the delicate balance between power and grace, crisp cold winter mornings as the sun peeks over the Roseland, long hazy summer evenings with a dip in the sea after rowing, the laughter, going places mentally and physically I never thought I’d go to…and then surpassing them again, leaving everything in the boat, being part of this wonderful, mad, fiercely competitive group of people…I could go own. You don’t row for 7 years without loving in. It’s an all-consuming sport, with highs and lows, yet within rowing there are moments of pure beauty.

The challenge about rowing is organising rowers – splitting the atom would be easier.

I have learned so much and more through gig rowing. The best thing about rowing is to never stop learning. I’ve learnt that 90% of pain is in the mind and it’s possible to go further even when you’re convinced you’ve got nothing left. I’ve learnt to love early mornings! I’ve learnt what sacrifice means and what it takes to reach the top levels of a sport.

My first goal was to race, then to row at Newquay, then to row at Scilly…I managed those all within my first year. My goal now is to row in a crew that beats the club record for highest placed men’s crew in Scilly.