Although now pilot gigs are raced purely for pleasure, their heritage on Scilly is ingrained in island life. Experience the excitement for yourself!
Long ago, acting as a pilot and guiding ships through the treacherous waters off the Isles of Scilly and Cornish coast was a well paid job, and so competition for the position was fierce. To prove their capability, pilots would race in front of prospective employers. The first pilot -on a gig involving six rowers and a coxain- to reach the boat would win the contract and earn much needed money.
An element of this rivalry can be seen today when gigs come from all over to take part in the annual World Pilot Gig Championships. The first official Championship took place on St. Mary's in 1990 with just 19 boats taking part. In 2014, the 25th Anniversary World Pilot Gig Championships attracted more than 140 gigs.
In 2016 this event will take place 29th May - 2nd April. Be there for yourself to witness history repeating.
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