ILRACOMBE PILOT GIG CLUB

A SHORT HISTORY of the PILOT GIG

Originally Pilot gigs, dating from 1790 were built to transport the pilot out to sailing ships waiting to enter Cornish harbours. A ship only needed one pilot, so the first one to arrive at the ship got the job - and the pay! It is easy to understand why these craft were built for maximum speed and to cope with the sea and weather conditions off the Cornish coast. Original Gigs were often rigged to carry sails too.

Gigs have also been used as lifeboats (and for smuggling contraband !)


When a new gig was built, the best way to test it was to race it against another established gig. This naturally led to the beginning of gig racing regattas. This is now a fast growing and fiercely competitive sport with clubs around the South West, Ireland, even in Europe and America.

Gig racing is open to teams of Under-14's, Under-16's, Ladies 'A' and 'B' crews, Mens 'A' and 'B' crews as well as mixed and veteran participants.

Gigs are all constructed to the same specification. Made from Elm, they are 32' long by 4'3" across the beam. There are 8 seats (called "thwarts") for the coxswain, six rowers and a "seagull" in the bow. The boat has a "stroke" side (port) and a "Bow" side (starboard), the rowers are staggered along the thwarts, and each rower pulls a single oar.

The CORNISH PILOT GIG ASSOCIATION

 

In 1986 the Cornish Pilot Gig Asociation (CPGA) was formed b y 4 clubs in Cornwall and the rules for boat construction were established.
By 2006 there were 50 clubs in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, with 120 gigs registered.
At the 2007 world championships on the Isles of Scilly, over 90 gigs will compete.