Even their biggest fans would not say the boats of Lower Thames Rowing Club are works of art, but boy do they go. This is Dauntless at the Carrow Cup last December.
The LTRC fleet was based on a bunch of boats originally built for angling on Hanningfield Reservoir, so they were short (18ft) and very, very heavy.
Boatbuider Keith Webster started experimenting to see if they could be improved. Two were sawn in half and lengthened by eight feet. The heavy fibreglass thwarts, gunwales and floors were removed. The final hulls, despite the extra length, were much lighter than the originals and cost about £1,000 to create - very cost effective.
Now Keith is creating a totally new gig design, under construction in a former scout hut in Benfleet. She will be 27ft 6in long with a beam of 4ft 6in and designed to use standard carbon fibre blades from the sliding seat world, obtainable second hand at a fraction of the price of a set of wooden gig oars. The lines, Keith tells me, will be similar to our Solent galleys.
The first two hulls will be built in GRP foam sandwich but if they are successful a mould could be created for longer production runs.
The class already has an association to promote it - the East Coast Rowing Association, and Keith has started a blog where he is chronicling the build. It will be very interesting to see how the design works.