Cornish Pilot Gigs
A Cornish pilot gig is a 6 man rowing boat, 32 feet in length and a 4 ft 9 in beam. They are Clinker built with Elm on Oak. Their specification is based on the "Trefry", a gig built in 1838 and still in regular use by Newquay rowing club. Their original use was to take pilots out to incoming ships in the Atlantic Approaches. The fastest gig would have the best chance of securing the pilotage fees. Originally a commercial venture, now the sport of gig racing has become established in the West Country and is spreading to Holland, France, The Faeroes, Australia and the USA. To prevent the boats becoming just museum pieces, Weymouth Rowing Club was formed.
Our 1st Gig - Tristan
Our first Gig was built by Alan Hangar at Kingfisher Marine, with the help of two other founder members. Alan had served his apprenticeship in the same loft some 40 years earlier building clinker dinghies. Kingfisher was of course where; Tristan had worked as an apprentice marine engineer. With sponsorship and donations of materials it meant that this first gig was launched on the 2nd June 2001. It was named Sir Tristan, making a neat connection between Tristan, through Arthurian legend, to the Celtic origin of the boat's design.
Our 2nd Gig - Penny
The second boat, like the first, was built by Alan Hangar at Kingfisher Marine. It was launched on the 2nd March 2002 and named after Tristan's friend Simon Penny, who died nine months before him. He too had worked for Kingfisher Marine, and since there, as among all his other friends, Simon was affectionately known simply as Penny, so too our second boat was named.
Our 3rd Gig - Isolde
In 2008 we launched Isolde, our third gig. She was commissioned from a professional gig builder Dave Currah from Looe in Cornwall, who has a reputation for building fine racing gigs. She has turned out to be all that we had hoped for. All racing crews have improved their performances since she was adopted as our dedicated racing gig. She was funded by club fundraising activities, and by grants obtained after a lot of hard work by our fund raising committee member.
Our 4th Gig - Tristan
Having three gigs, with one being reserved for racing, it soon became apparent that we needed another to satisfy the number of club members wishing to row. We were so pleased with the success of Isolde that we commissioned another gig from Dave Currah . A large tranche of the funding came from the use of Penny in the film "The Boat that rocked". This last gig was launched early in 2010. Up until the launch of Isolde, Sir Tristan had been our race boat. As it was the tenth anniversary year of Tristan's death, the club decided that we should call our new gig Tristan. She has since become the clubs dedicated racing gig.
Kingfisher is a fibreglass training gig and was launched in April 2013. She is a helpful addition to the club as she can be stored on the water, making it easier for our Junior crews to launch.
The club first kept its gig at Kingfisher Marine, launching from the public slipway,
with the Angling Society affording us clubhouse facilities. The arrival of the
second gig meant that we no longer had room to store the boats at Kingfisher. We
obtained permission from the Council for a temporary compound on the public slipway,
along with permission to build a boatshed on the Nothe side of the harbour.
The club's first boatshed was built during the winter of 2002-2003 based on a donated garage clad in wood and was the work of many club members. The boatshed was extended in 2006 thanks to 'Dorset Works', adopting us as their community charity work for that year. Volunteers from their pool of employees led by Martin from management worked hard over several week-ends with some club members also labouring. Some of the materials were donated by local merchants who supply 'Dorset Works'. There is a plaque on the harbour side wall in recognition of 'Dorset Works' contribution.
In 2004 Bill Noble gave the club a small boat affectionately Known as the 'Giggler' which was fitted out by Bill, Alan Hanger and others to act as our safety boat. This allowed us to do more open water rowing with our junior section. Unfortunately it soon became apparent that it was not suitable as a fully functioning Safety boat. It was eventually sold in order to help fund a new purpose built Safety Boat. In 2008 we built our safety boat, the 'Davey Jones'. Much of the work was done in house by one of the founder members assisted by Alan Hanger and others including one of our junior members at that time, Mark Matthews. As the club was raising money to buy gigs (Tristan and Isolde) at the same time, this was funded by grant money from several sources including a final, large donation from the late Mr Jones' family.
As a footnote, the Davey Jones took a "starring" role along with a crew of ladies rowers in the comic film, 'The Boat That Rocks'. Most of the money earned by Davey Jones and the ladies as extras went to funding our gig, Tristan.