July promises to be an exciting time for lovers of traditional gig rowing. So whether you’re a pro or just want to try something different, this could be your thing


It is possible in London to do a great many water-based sporting activities: sculling, sailing, paddle boarding, water skiing. There’s something for everyone who enjoys water-based sports. Well, almost everyone except the gig rower. Yes, the gig rower. Before sculling, the form of rowing whereby one slides up and down on a seat attached to a set of rails, there was gig rowing whereby the individual merely sits on a bench and leans forward with their upper body while partially bending their legs, to pull the oar towards them.

Gig rowing, born in Cornwall in 1838, is an incredibly popular sport across the south-western counties with fifty clubs alone in this region. It is from this county then that the idea for the London Cornish Gig Rowing Club comes forth. Born out of a weekly meeting, known as Wrecker’s Wednesday, of Cornish ‘expats’ living in London led by Peter Chalkley. The aim is to bring pilot gigs to the Thames and bring a new class of boat onto the water. The club is in its infancy at the time of writing; they are registered with Cornish Pilot Gig Association, have a Facebook page and even a temporary base with the Richmond Bridge Boat Club.

Their mission has been boasted by the crowdfunded assisted purchase of one gig boat (Fury) from the Falmouth Pilot Gig Club. Peter Chalkley aims to have Fury in London waters by July, with a plan to store her in the Docklands area where ramp construction is already under way, and then expand to a second gig that will be stored in Richmond. The club is not without experience, competing at the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships on the Scilly Isles in April with a gig borrowed from the Richmond Bridge Boat Club.

The base is strong then for the latest club to use London’s waters. A club of determined Cornishmen and women to heave forth a new vessel into the changing tides of modern maritime London.


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