Hamble River Rowing

 The history of Hamble River Raid

The Hamble River Raid came about in answer to a call for fundraising for the Hamble Sea Scouts. With a condemned asbestos roof needing urgent replacement it was put forward that the Scouts would have a sponsored row on the Hamble River.

The rather tired scout dinghies were assessed and prepared with misgivings.

However there were a few Bursledon Gigs on the river that were used by their owners occasionally during the year for such events as the Bursledon Regatta.

The Bursledon Gig harks back to the days when every waterman, boatyard worker and fisherman on the river would row to work.  At that time an important race at the local regatta was for single oarsmen to row from Bursledon to Hamble Spit.  The prize was about one month’s wages and oarsmen would row from Cowes, Lymington and Southampton for the races.

About 10 years ago Tom Richardson, of The Elephant Boatyard and Glyn Foulkes, of Aladdin’s Cave chandlery, concerned at the loss of waterman skills on the river Hamble, decided to introduce a new class of rowing boat to the Saturday afternoon racing.  They alighted on a GRP version of an oyster dredging punt, seaworthy, stable, sturdy but easily driven.  Initially 4 were built and became known as the Bursledon Gig.  

The Gig is 15’ 4” long with a beam of 5’ 4”.  It can be rowed by 1,2,3,4 or 6 rowers and sculled over the stern.  Pure racers are stripped out to save weight; boats for young rowers have fore and aft buoyancy tanks and rudders.  It is ideally suited for both river and restricted waters but dry enough for coastal rowing.  In Cornwall they are left on moorings all year round but can be towed by a small family saloon thus easy to transport and are light enough for launching from a trailer with a small crew..  

The owners of the 4 original boats were approached and kindly agreed to lend their Gigs to the Scouts for the very first Hamble River Raid in 2005.

The race was started by Deputy Mayor of Eastleigh Mr. Bernie Wright and his wife who were impressed by the Scouts turn out and enthusiasm. On becoming Mayor Bernie adopted the Scout Group as one of his Mayoral Charities and has been a great supporter ever since. With nearly 100 youngsters belonging to the group they could appreciate the importance of the group to the small but growing community of Hamble and about.

The Hamble River Raid proved to be very popular not just with the competitors, but with spectators, the local community and businesses. It was originally decided that the organisation of the race would best be controlled under a separate umbrella to the Scouts for various reasons such as insurance and licensing issues etc. The Hamble River Raid Company was launched as a non-profit making charitable organisation feeding the Hamble Sea Scouts

Buoyed up by the support, the River Raid committee decided to try and purchase their own Bursledon Gig for use by the Scouts and invited teams.  Fund raising and generous donations from local businesses, individuals and the Swanwick, Bursledon and Warsash Regatta saw their first boat ‘Point Source’ arrive, named after the majority donator.

Individuals, encouraged by the increased popularity of rowing on the river sought out their own gigs and in 2005 a further 10 were built. After five annual Hamble River Raids and active encouragement from the Bursledon Regatta committee we see nearly 15 gigs regularly being used on the river.

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