Our Gigs

Our club currently owns 4 Cornish Pilot Gigs, three traditional wooden gigs and one GRP plastic gig which is used for training. 

When the club first started in 2013 we leased two wooden pilot gigs - Spirit of Langstone (formerly Waterwitch from Charlestown, built in 2003 by John and Dave Currach of Looe) and Heart of Hayling (formerly Porthminster from St Ives, built in 1992 by Peter Foard of Mevagissey).   We now own both of these gigs.

We purchased a fibreglass training boat named as C Shel after one of our original members Shelley Cook, who is sadly no longer with us. C Shel was purchased from Rock Rowing Club and originally called Jane D, the the real Jane Diplock is still a stalwart of Rock Rowing club and a very lovely lady too. Fibreglass gigs cannot be raced in CPGA regattas and so C Shel is purely a training boat.  C Shel has introduced many people to gig rowing through our Open Rowing sessions and continues to be used for this purpose.

In 2015, we set about raising funds to purchase our first new wooden racing boat, built by Andrew Nancarrow.  Star of Northney was launched in May 2016, her racing debut being at Weymouth Regatta. Members and supporters of our club raised the money for this gig to be built with a 64th Scheme, whereby parts of the cost were shared throughout the membership.  It was a very proud day for the club members when she finally arrived at Langstone Pilot Gig Club.


 Maintaining Our Gigs and Equipment

 
Our gigs need to be maintained and this happens throughout the season when there is the time and the space to be able to do this. Whether it be a full rub down and fresh coat of paint, repairs to stretchers or keel bands, there always seems to be something that needs to be done to keep them in tip top condition. We are very lucky to have a group of our members led very ably by Matt who turn up and lend a hand when called upon.  We are always looking for members who have the skills or just the time to be able to help – many hands make light work.
 

 The History of Cornish Pilot Gigs

The Cornish Pilot Gig is a 6-oared rowing boat, built of Cornish narrow-leaf elm, 9.8m long and 1.47m wide, with a crew of 6 rowers and a coxswain.  The Cornish Pilot Gig has a long and hard-working history. In the early 1800’s there would have been around 200 gigs, sometimes under sail, to be found in use around the Cornish coastline. They were used to help larger vessels to navigate a safe passage, to trade with those same ships and to help rescue those in danger – stranded in remote or dangerous locations or jumping from sinking ships. They would have transported goods and people between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland but also to ferry smuggled contraband ashore. These workhorses of the sea were naturally expected to move fast about their work and a racing of sorts therefore ensued. The first to get to a ship would reap the various rewards – whether that be the pilotage fee or goods to trade.  With advances in boat building and maritime navigation, the use of Cornish Pilot Gigs largely died out, and the few remaining gigs were left to fall into disrepair.


 Cornish Pilot Gig Racing Today

Interest in Cornish Pilot Gigs in the UK has shown a huge resurgence in recent times, after a group of keen rowers rescued and refurbished some of the surviving gigs. Since the 1980’s, Gig rowing and racing has developed into a sport, giving new and more enjoyable incentives to get out on the water.  The sport has grown and grown and today there are nearly 150 gigs lining up on the start line at the World Pilot Gig Championships.

Gig clubs are mainly found in Cornwall and Devon, but have rapidly spread into Dorset, Hampshire, Avon and Somerset, Bristol, Sussex, London and Wales.  There are now over 55 clubs in the UK, and further afield Cornish Pilot Gig racing clubs can be found as far afield as USA, Bermuda, Netherlands, and Ireland.

Cornish Pilot Gigs are regulated by the CPGA who ensure that all new wooden gigs are built to a very specific design - built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m). All newly built gigs are based on drawings by Ralph Bird, a Cornish boat builder, taken from the measurements of Treffry, a gig built in 1838 by William Peters of St. Mawes.  Treffry is currently owned by Newquay Rowing Club and is still frequently used. 

The Gig Racing season kicks off for Langstone Pilot Gig Club at the World Pilot Gig Championships, which are held on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly each May bank holiday weekend. 

We attend numerous regattas throughout the summer months, and participate in the newly launched Jurassic League, which includes 9 of our fellow clubs located along the Jurassic Coast.   We also attend a number of Junior Only regattas, including our very own Junior Sprint Regatta which was launched in 2017.  The racing season ends for us when we participate in the County Championships, held at Newquay in September.

The regattas attract large crowds and the racing is fun, colourful and exciting. The sport provides the opportunity for the whole family to participate with mums, dads and juniors either rowing together or supporting the club.

If you would like to get involved, why not give Gig rowing a try?  We hold Open Rowing Sessions for anyone wishing to try our sport. These sessions are held most Saturday afternoons with qualified coaches and experienced rowers to guide you through. Your first row is free.