The Cornish pilot gig is a six-oared rowing boat, built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of four feet ten inches. It is recognised as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues going back as far as the late 17th century.
Gigs were originally built at the end of the 18th Century in Cornwall, to guide the sailing ships into the harbour. It was essential for the gig owner to build a boat that would be fast on the Cornish waves. Whichever gig reached the anchored ship first received the money for the job. Gigs have also been used in smuggling, and as lifeboats.
When a new gig was built it was tested against opposition boats to find out how fast it was. It was only a matter of time before these impromptu races were replaced with official fixtures, and so pilot gig racing was born.
2017 World Pilot Gig Rowing Championships Isles of Scilly
Above: With a worldwide group of 130 boats entered, teams row a two mile distance in open sea.
Below: On the final day, the rowers in all 130 boats raise their oars to salute the winners.
Bill & Lindsay's adventure in the Isles of Scilly...
As most of you know, Bill Raue now lives in England and I still find some things
—partiularly sports, baffling. One of those sports that the average Yank knows nothing about is Pilot Gig rowing and it is a huge big deal in every coastal community in Europe, the UK and there was even a USA team from Gloucester,
MA and Bermuda. Unfortunately, they did not do very well.
This all began back in the days of the sailing ships and when a ship neared port,
they needed locals who could guide them into harbour, avoiding the rocks and sand bars. Whenever the locals saw sails on the horizon, they would jump into their boats and row like hell to meet the ship. The first one there was paid to guide the ship into the harbor. They "got the gig" and that is how this sport began. Who knew?
BIg win for the Super Vets. My wife Lindsay rows in the Super Vets Division for women ages 50 & over. UInfortunately, her crew consists of one woman age 56,
Lindsay at 64 (my child bride) and four women over age 70. Together, they were spotting the other teams 115 years in age differential. Everyone expected them to finish dead last and damned if they didn't finish 17th out of the 35 boats in the race.
What a hoot! Amatuer sports at it's best
Next year, the race weekend includes Bill's birthday. Everyone's invited!
The Women on the team from Holland. For reasons I do not understand, they seem to have a team song set to the melody of the American spiritual, Amazing Grace.
The Mermaid Pub...
Hey, we're OK with 17th place...
Above: Big hug for the cox...
Left: Lindsay with her
pre-race game face.
We stayed in an 16th century castle. I never knew castles were $300 bucks a night!
Men's team from Holland unloading their boat and, yes, they are wearing wooden shoe.s