A LONG-AWAITED rowing race will take to the waters this weekend for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boat fanatics from the Harker’s Yard Gig Association, comprised of coastal rowing clubs from across the region, will be competing in the Pioneer Cup on Saturday.

Starting in Brightlingsea, at 2.30pm, the rival rowers will tackle a five-mile course which will see them head up the Colne Estuary towards Wivenhoe and Rowhedge.

The finish line will be positioned at the Pioneer Sailing Trust, back in Brightlingsea, where prizes will be handed out to the winners and food will be on offer.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Rowers from the likes of Manningtree's Stour Sailing Club, Maldon Gig Rowing Club, and the Wivenhoe Gig Rowing Club are expected to take part, as well as others.

A spokesman for the Harker’s Yard Gig Association said: “The race is symbolically important as it marks the return to some sort of normal after such a long absence from group competition.

“The clubs have been running their own home waters time trials against other clubs over recent months so the Pioneer Cup will be a welcome return to real racing.

“Looking forward post-pandemic the Harker’s Yard Gig scene wants to spread its positive messages for coastal communities on the East Coast.”

Before the pandemic hit, the Harker’s Yard Gig Association regularly brought communities together up and down the east coast.

The water-based organisation is currently made up of 11 racing clubs located in the likes of Mersea Island, Brightlingsea, and Rowhedge.

The Pioneer Cup will be live streamed from 2pm on the TackTracker app.

To find out more visit facebook.com/harkersyardrowers.