Cornish Pilot Gigs

Sportsman all over the world, especially those who enjoy boat racing, have always been curious about the pilot gig and gig racing. They are afforded many chances to learn about the sport by the governing bodies but for the unseasoned sportsman or curious onlooker it may be wondered what Cornish Pilot Gig Racing is. The Cornish Pilot Gig is a rowing boat with six oars.

Cornish Pilot Gigs are built with a very buoyant wood known as “Cornish narrow leaf elm”. The pilot gig is 32 feet long and includes a beam that is four feet and ten inches. The pilot gig is widely observed to be the first “shore based” lifeboat that went to boats that were in need of help. They have recorded rescues dating back as far as the late 17th century.

The original idea for the Cornish pilot gig boat was for general work use. The idea to race pilot gig boats came about when hiring the boats as rescue vessels. They would begin toward incoming boats and the first to get to the incoming boat would get the job and the payment.

In the modern world the Cornish Pilot Gig is pretty much strictly used for sporting events. There are over 100 clubs across the world that caters to this specific sport. Cornwall is the primary location for such events as are the Isles of Scilly. These clubs do, however, exist and flourish in other areas such as Devon, Wales, Dorset and London. They are also internationally known with clubs located in France, the Netherlands, Australia and even the United States of American.
All the current gig racing events are based on the “Treffry” which was built around 1838 by one William Peters of St. Mawes. It is owned, continually over the years, by the Newquay Rowing Club. Non-racing gigs are still built, however but they do not adhere to the specifics evident on the Teffry and for this reason you can not race with them in these events.
The sport in its current form is governed by the Cornish Pilot Gig Association. It monitors all of the racing gigs during their building phase.

The organisations Standards Officer is responsible for measuring each completed gig at least three times during its building phase. This ensures that it conforms to the standards set forth by the association.
The sport itself is a minority in the competitive boat racing world. Getting involved in it is not an easy task as you are forced to adhere to very strict guidelines in the building of the Cornish pilot gig as well as the race itself. If you enjoy racing and sailing in particular then check out all of the information available online. It may be your niche, your foot in the door to competitive boat racing. If it isn’t your thing then you have many other choices in boat racing but none give you the ability to customise and build your boat from the ground up which makes pilot gig racing a unique activity as the boats are specific to original plans.

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