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.
The History of the Weymouth Rowing Club
Weymouth Rowing Club is a phoenix risen out of the ashes of a tragedy. On the 22nd September 2000 Tristan Douglas-Johnson set out from his home excited at the prospect of a day out at the Southampton International Boat Show. He never returned. At the age of twenty, he was killed by a runaway RIB that had minutes before thrown all its occupants into the sea whilst on a demonstration run. Tristan was an affable young man, and it was his colleagues at Kingfisher Marine who came up with the idea of building not one, but two Cornish Pilot Gigs as a long lasting memorial to him. Friends and family rallied together and it was not long before we had a gig on the water and we were racing.
Where we are now
We have come a long way since our foundation as a club. We are now a charity, and amongst our charitable aims we are committed to provide a facility where people can partake in a healthy outdoor activity, no matter their circumstances or abilities. We have built four gigs, a harbour side boatshed, a flash boat, and a very fine safety boat. More importantly we have built a friendly club with a membership of over 150. The introduction of a well planned training program last season was rewarded with racing success on the water both in the Ladies, men’s, mixed and veteran crews. The ambition of competitive rowers is such that they believe that they can go even further. Fun is the most important aspect of this club. Rowing success will be a natural consequence as long as we can remember that without fun and enjoyment, any results are only shallow. All who would like to row, at whatever level, are welcome. With tolerance, understanding and a team spirit I am sure that our club will grow and be a fitting tribute to the memory of my beloved son Tristan.