Tuesday 16 July 2024

Pendeen go to Sweden

Pendeen Gig Club row in Sweden.

After accepting an international invitation from a group of Swedish rowers to travel to Gothenburg to row one of their boats in a local festival, Pendeen Gig Club is sending a crew to represent cornish gig rowing overseas.

We will be arriving on Tues 30th July take part in local island festival rowing 5 & 10 man crewed Swedish life boats on the island of Styrso... flying the gig rowing flag for Cornwall in Sweden.

We are going to present the Swedish rowers with a wooden pilot gig engraved with our name in honour of this unique occasion.

Please read below a brief report of a quite brilliant experience of rowing in Sweden.


The Cornish Gig rowers going to row in a Swedish Festival, with their tour t-shirts & Cornish/English flag.


Following a chance meeting with PPGC’s chairman, Jan Barton at the Castle on St Michael’s Mount last summer, eight members of the club were invited to row in one of Gothenburg’s Southern Archipelago’s rowing festivals this July. The invitation came from a group of Swedish ladies, who were visiting the castle when one of them needed first aid assistance which was given by Jan in her role as a castle guide.


After discovering that the ladies do a bi annual tour to row boats in different countries, and were rowing a gig from Zennor gig club, Jan arranged for them to also row one of Pendeen’s training gigs out of Newlyn harbour during their stay in Penzance. The clubs ladies captain Deb Sedgeman & vice- captain Sue Nankervis, happily took the Swedish visitors out into Mounts Bay, where they enjoyed learning the skill of Cornish Gig rowing. The ladies extended an invitation to PPGC to attend one of their rowing festivals on their home Island of Styrso, one of several small islands that make up the archipelago’s south of Gothenburg in Sweden.


The club sent a group of eight, arriving by ferry on Styrso on the evening of 29th July this year. A very warm reception awaited them consisting of beer, shrimp sandwiches & lots of singing, a favourite Swedish past time, as the sun set over the picturesque harbour outside. The next morning after their first of two nights on the Island the Cornish rowers were introduced to the six man & ten man rowing boats used in the festival. An interesting and enjoyable time was had as the gig rowers endeavoured to master the different rowing styles required to propel the Swedish craft. The tradition of having a dip following a row around the opposite island was adhered too, despite the cloudy skies and light rain. Lunch at an islander’s home consisting of the traditional dish of roll mop herring in various sauces and boiled potatoes followed, as of course did, more singing.


Thunder storms during the afternoon threatened to cancel the evening rowing event, but thankfully the weather cleared in time for six of the lady gig rowers to pit themselves against the fastest of the archipelago’s ladies teams in a straight eight hundred metre sprint row. The Cornish girls did well in the unfamiliar craft, but the Swedish team pulled ahead winning comfortably. The watching spectators however were warm in their applause and praise for the Pendeen ladies efforts. Gifts were exchanged between Pendeen and their hosts from Styrso, during which homemade garlands of flowers were presented to the group from Cornwall together with a certificate declaring them Gold Medal winners, much to the amusement of all concerned! A replica wooden gig boat trophy, t shirts and St Pirans flag was presented to the islanders by PPGC. The flag was quickly hoisted together with the flag of Sweden and a bond of friendship between the two groups firmly established. Eating, drinking, dancing and of course, singing at Café Batebacken continued late into the night with more of the Cornish tours shirts happily being given away as mementoes of an amazing experience. By the time the ferry arrived the next day there was much talk of a joint rowing our to Spain next year and many promises of keeping in contact with our Swedish friends. All of which PPGC fully intend to do of course. 



Our first evening on the Island with our wonderful hosts.


The Island cafe where all the locals meet to eat, drink & sing.


The large boat waiting to leave the harbour.

The ladies gather after the racing for the presentation.


Pendeen Gig ladies with their gold medal prizes & certificate.

The St Piran's flag (Cornish) flies proudly next to the National Swedish flag, cementing a very special friendship.