Members of a new Burnham-On-Sea pilot gig rowing club held the first launch of their £10,000 boat from the town’s beach at the weekend.

MP James Heappey was among the crew who rolled up their sleeves to ‘put their oar in’ for the first launch from the town’s beach on Saturday (January 16th).

£10,000 was raised in nine weeks to fund the purchase of the full-size wooden gig, which is manned by over 60 members of the town’s new rowing club.

Graham Wills from Burnham Sailing Club, the group that has overseen the launch of the new club, told “It was great to see the boat launched here in Burnham on Saturday on such a perfect day.”

“The club has been running up in Bristol Docks since the end of September but we’d never launched in Burnham until this week.”

“Our boat has been based there so we could work closely with the Clevedon gig rowing club to gain experience and check we were operating safely.”

“We have such an enthusiastic group of people signed up that we really wanted to launch the boat in its home waters.”

“With the calm weather window opening up on Saturday we thought we’d give it a go – and it went really well on such a beautiful day. It was great to have our MP along to join in the milestone.”

The new group is growing quickly, he added. “We have 63 people signed up so far and we’re still getting more enquiries. In fact, there have been so many that we’re already reaching the point where we’re considering whether to get a second boat.”

Mike Price, one of the sponsors, said it was a special day for him to see the gig launched because the boat is named in memory of his late partner, Jayne Campbell.

Burnham Sailing Club was also recently successful in being awarded £1,000 of grant funding from Burnham and Highbridge Town Council towards the purchase of the boat.

Sailing Club members have also given donations and other grants have been received to enable the purchase of the traditional boat to go ahead.

Burnham’s MP James Heappey, pictured here in the centre, was among the rowers for the boat’s first launch in the town.

The gig rowing club members enjoyed a superb view of the town’s seafront from a different vantage point.

The rowers taking the strain during Saturday’s launch in Bridgwater Bay.

The boat was launched from its trailer onto the beach and then rolled down to the water’s edge.

A tractor is used to transport the new gig rowing boat onto the beach each time it is launched.

Those interested in finding out more about the club can contact Burnham Sailing Club on The Esplanade for further information.