Team GB rowing Olympic medallists will be competing against crews of Cornish gig rowers off St Mawes Harbour next Wednesday.
All three of Cornwall's rowing Olympic medallists Annie Vernon, Ed Coode (providing commentary throughout the racing) and Helen Glover will among the ten Team GB members taking part.
The Cornish Rowing Challenge begins at 6pm, with the first heat starting off Pendennis Point to St Mawes Quay in a single leg dash to challenge the coxed fours sliding seat (Team GB) and fixed seat (gig) crews for victory in the first race of the day.
Two further races will follow, starting and finishing off St Mawes, this time with the Team GB ladies rowing gigs against invited teams from local three clubs: Falmouth, Flushing & Mylor and Roseland Gig Clubs, and mixed teams from gig clubs from across Cornwall.
The community of St Mawes will host an afternoon and evening of shoreside activities on the quay, including embracing the Olympic spirit with a challenge to the public to take on the Team GB rowers ashore on Ergo rowing machines on St Mawes Quay.
Cornish Pilot Gigs and a fixed seat rowing boat from Falmouth’s Greenbank Rowing Club will be on display to see at close quarters the rowing craft taking part in the Challenge.
A barbecue on the quay and hog roast at the Rising Sun pub will add to the festival atmosphere. Pints of Tribute Ale at the pub will be on sale for a special price of £2.50 and for every pint sold on the night, £1 will be donated to ShelterBox.
This is because Annie Vernon, the event organiser, is an ambassador for ShelterBox, the international disaster relief charity based in Helston.
Annie said: “I'm thrilled that so many of our GB rowers will be joining me in Cornwall to take on the county's gig rowers on their own turf, and to be honest right now I couldn't pick who's going to triumph. The GB rowers are at the peak of their fitness and are amongst some of the best athletes in the world; but they've spent the last month partying!”
She added: “The gig rowers will be fresh from racing at Newquay and will be much more familiar with the technique of gig rowing - especially the buoy turns, which is something we're going to have to learn. I can't wait to see who's going to come out on top. I hope this event will show off the best of Cornwall and the best of rowing.”
Additional parking will be available in the English Heritage car parks – follow signs once entering St Mawes.
A road closure will be in place from 4.30pm to 8.30pm to allow maximum spectators and to add to the celebratory atmosphere.
It is recommended that visitors from Falmouth use the St Mawes/Falmouth Ferry where possible, with a discounted return fare available for the 15:15, 16:15 or 17:15 outbound ferries and the 20:45 and 21:45 return ferries.
Spectator boats will be running to watch the racing close up, with a £2 minimum donation to ShelterBox, departing around ten minutes before race starts.
Sponsors and supporters of the Cornish Rowing Challenge to date include the Team GB rowers, Roseland Gig Club, British Rowing, Seasalt, VisitCornwall, Fal River, Event Cornwall, St Austell Brewery, A & P Falmouth, University College Falmouth and St Mawes Harbours Commissioners, with wide support from the parish council, businesses and clubs in the village.
For full details of the Cornish Rowing Challenge see www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk/cornishrowingchallenge