About Cornish Pilot Gig Boats
A gig is a six oared rowing boat originally used to carry pilots to vessels wanting to negotiate difficult waters around Cornwall, hence the name 'Pilot Gig'.
Gigs are thought to have originated in Cornwall in the 18th century but 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. The original purpose of the Cornish pilot gig was as a general work boat, and the craft is used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels off the Atlantic. Gigs were made in different shapes in order to fit the purpose for which they would be used, for example, long gigs with fine lines were built for speed whereas a wide gig would be built for stability and for carrying cargo.
The gig is built from narrow leaf (ideally) Cornish elm and inspected at least three times during their build by the Association Standards Officer, the modern gig is a speedy and seaworthy craft.
The sport of Pilot Gig Racing has evolved over a number of years from what was once a way if earning a living. Throughout the history of the pilot gig there have been heroic rescues, jobs in pilotage and now the rapidly expanding sport.