Newhaven – a case study setting up a new rowing club


How often do you hear of a rowing club starting up… in a deprived area?

Newhaven Pilot Gig Club Newhaven team takes to the water[/caption]

Many set up, because someone saw something and thought “let’s give it a go” only for it to die off in a few months.

That has not been the case when it comes to Newhaven Gig Rowing Club (NGRC) as it has gone from strength to strength. It is the most easterly Gig club in the country and the club is going from strength to strength.

Start a Rowing Club

It all started with one man and a passion; he roped in 3 other people to get involved. Soon the plastic Gig Laura Jane was being rented. Then they took a risk and brought Amelie formerly Isis.  With very little publicity and just being seen out on the water, more people were asking about this bright yellow beauty and how to get out on the water in her.

Forming rowing crews

From June 2016 to the start of 2017 there were enough people to start forming regular rows. With more people getting involved and the Gig being out more often, more Facebook posts, plus word of mouth, NGRC grew quickly in a short time.

Success measures

Over the last 18 months, the club has taught over 250 people to row. It now has 2 rowing coaches, 6 coxes and 7 more in training. Over the summer of 2017 the Gig has been out every weekend from dawn to sunset and more. The rowers also pulled together and did up a local shop and turned it into the Gig Shed. They also did some much need maintenance to the Gig, with the help of a local boat builder in just a few weeks.

Now winter is here demand hasn’t eased up and we currently have over 80 rows booked for November and December with more to be added. This year the club even put forward a crew for the Great River Race. They weren’t in it to win, but it has sparked that competitive edge in them they will be entering two boats next year.

Rowing club website

NGRC has had to develop a website to be able to handle the demand for more rows and crew training sessions. Up until the start of November all the bookings were being done though the Facebook group. Now the Gig club has gone over to the website and it is so much easier for everyone and membership has taken off amazingly. The club have been lucky to have Mark Elliot who runs come forward and set this website up voluntarily.

The website has allowed the club to set up membership, keep track of those learning to row, competent crew, race crews, and team building days. The website has been set up so each cox can post their own rows and control bookings. This makes sure that everyone gets a row in a weekend as there is such demand for it. The club is now cash free and all paid upfront before the row. This has saved so much time. No more queuing in the bank on a Monday! Plus have you tried to take someone’s money and give them change in the dark on a moving pontoon? It’s not easy that’s for sure!!

This club has done amazingly well in such a brief period of time and is set to carry on growing and becoming stronger. The 5 year plan for the club is one of the best and certainly achievable. This club is one to watch as I’m sure they will be entering a lot of racing events.


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