Posted: 10th June 2014
Sunday 8 June 2014 and the Clerksroom Corsairs mustered quayside ready to set sail upon the high seas intent on vengeance for a cruel and surprising defeat twelve months earlier...
Well – OK – the venue was a placid stretch of the River Tone in the middle of Taunton and we are talking paddles but there was a lot of honour at stake!
The Corsairs first assembled in 2013, a band of cheerful and enthusiastic volunteers *coughs* eager to board a magnificent vessel under the equally magnificent stewardship of their captain Martin Davies. The motivation then, as again this year, was the raising of funds for Headway Somerset, the association for brain-injured people.
Last year the Corsairs raised around £500 competing against 16 other crews from the area in the Dragon Boat challenge – a series of sprints over a distance of approximately 250 metres along the river.
In 2013, the Corsairs were losing semi-finalists. Not bad, really, for a bunch of desk jockeys who – to be frank – had absolutely no training whatsoever. The crew vowed then that preparations would begin in earnest after no more than a week’s rest and licking of wounds.
And so it was that this year’s crew arrived bright and early one Sunday morning outside the Brewhouse Theatre, ready for action, having done…..absolutely no training whatsoever (unless you count the course inspection and tactical planning meeting of the committee on Friday evening of the preceding week).
Michael “Piratechap” Williamson was joined on this occasion by our very own Tracey Martin. We were pleased to welcome back Cap’n Jack, veteran of last year’s campaign and a couple of new friends who had said something about “paddling in navy” – one of them turned up in white, but they both seemed quite good on the water...
Once again 17 teams assembled and as events unfolded it became clear that the three teams with the fastest times over three rounds of heats would be pitted against each other in the grand final. The mighty Corsairs were to set the pace in round one leaving Invest South West spluttering in their wake as they registered a time of 52.30 seconds for the 2.5 kilometre course (Ed – it’s 250 metres, you idiot).
Round two kicked off with the Viridor Vikings tipping the Corsairs off the top spot and the boys and girls had to dig deep on a second run. As the video evidence (see links below) shows once more they were up to the challenge, slicing more than a second off the first round performance and registering what was to prove their qualifying time. By now the powerful “one – two, one – two ....” chant could be heard striking fear in to the hearts of the Corsairs’ challengers.
By the final heat of the third round, featuring three ships on this occasion, it was clear that if the Corsairs only beat the other two then they would qualify for the final. Once again they were victorious.
But with the work done in the early rounds the crew had turned in their slowest time in the third heat and the ship’s commander was quick to spot this. Cap’n “Thrash ’em, Bosun” Davies threatened swift and merciless action to maintain standards and boost morale.
Alas, it was not to be. Fate once more played a cruel hand as the Corsairs, the water still dripping from their paddles, were required to board ship again for the final contest with their well-rested (Make sure you get that in - Ed) opponents.
To be fair Virgin Active and Viridor Vikings competed well and were worthy of their first and second places. All subsequently presented themselves before Headway Chairman, Martin Pettingell, for the awards – bronze medals for the hearty pirates of the West Country.
It was, as last time, a thoroughly enjoyable day in good company with many friends across the various teams. Even the weather was, in large part, kind to us all with the exception of the cloud burst that hit two teams competing immediately before one of our heats but which subsided just before we took to the water (ha).
It also promises to be another good fundraiser for this very deserving cause. We’re still collecting so if you have not yet donated and would like to do so, it is not too late. Piratechap has a dedicated page at Just Giving or you can text your ££ to 70070 with the code MRWL53 or if you are local to Crewkerne then just call in at the office with whatever you can spare. The appeal will remain open for a number of weeks but obviously we are hoping to gather together as much as we can sooner rather than later and pool with funds being raised by the rest of the squad at Clerksroom in Taunton.
Next year, the Corsairs will be back, but our competition may not even see us climb in the boat and cross the winning line as we assume a new identity. What's that? Well – you’ll have to come and find out….
7 June 2015 - 10:00. Don’t be late!
Video clips courtesy of Stephen Ward (who was also kind enough to provide vittles and grog!).
"Mighty Corsairs" lead picture courtesy of Mark Wilson.