Rowing our boats

What’s a Cornish Pilot Gig?

Taken from a traditional design, the gigs that are constructed today follow the original specifications as laid down by the Peters family in the form of the gig known as ‘Treffry’ (1838), which is still actively rowed by the Newquay Rowing Club. Over 200 years ago William Peters working in his yard at Polvarth, St. Mawes, Cornwall would have probably given little thought to the future of his craft. But for us today they are an historical asset, a testament to the skill of the Peters family. 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.

Rowing our boatsOur club gigs:

  • Zawn (2014)

Built by David Currah of Looe. Our top racing gig. A beautiful varnished boat which has already raced in the final at the World Pilot Gig Championships 2014. Purchased with money from a grant from the SITA Cornwall Trust.

  • Pinnacle (2003)

Formerly owned by Swanage gig club. F&MPGC was formed and a consortium was established to purchase “Pinnacle”. She is on permanent loan to F&MPGC. Pinnacle was built by Andrew Nancarrow.

  • Penarrow (2006)

“Penarrow”, again built by Andrew Nancarrow, though she sees lots of other service too. Her build costs used grant funding from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts.

  • Serafina


About the rowing :

Six oars and a coxswain! 3 on the stroke side and 3 on the bow side. Relatively large, wooden oars and fixed seats known as thwarts. Each of the rowers command a seat and a set of wooden, carved thawl pins between which the oar sits acting like the rollocks on a modern rowing boat. At the bow end is seat number one also referred to as the bow rower. A very important place in the gig especially when the gig is required to navigate around buoys in a race situation. This oar is extended on the bow side of the gig. In front of them is seat number two with the oar extended on the stroke side of the gig. The next pair of seats are effectively the engine room. Seats three and four, the centre of the boat, the longest oars. From here in particular two powerful rowers can really make a difference to the boat speed. Finally the stroke pair, seats five and six. Possibly the most important seat in the gig, the stroke rower, seat number six. This position sets the stroke rate, the pace, the timing and the rhythm. Their movements are translated down the boat through each consecutive member of the crew. The number five rows in perfect time with the number six and everyone on both sides of the gig follow them religiously! All that is needed is a commanding coxswain, watching, steering and ready to issue further instructions to navigate the crew as required. Simple! Want to see how this works in real life? Join us and give it a go.