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Gig Racing


If there is one quintessential Scillonian experience, it has to be the spectacle of a Gig Race. It's a holiday must-do...

Perhaps it's the clack as six paddles move in perfect unison. Perhaps its the roar of the coxswain urging the crew on. Perhaps it's the shouts from the spectators willing their Gig across the line. Whatever it is, there is something undeniably spectacular about a Gig Race.

Pilot Gigs are traditional wooden sea-faring rowing boats, crewed by six rowers and a coxswain. 32 feet long and built of Elm, these beautiful boats were originally used across the islands as a way of earning a living with competing islands' gigs racing to reach passing ships and pilot them safely through the treacherous Scillonian waters. When all seemed lost and a ship was wrecked on the jagged rocks which surround our archipelago, Gigs were again raced to the wreck to pull survivors from the foaming waters.

Today, Gigs are raced across the world but their spiritual home remains on Scilly, where every week crews from across the islands compete against each other before gathering in the pub to celebrate - or commiserate.

There is something spectacular - in the truest sense of the word - about a Gig Race, and to hop aboard a spectator boat and witness a race up close must count as one of the Scillonian holiday must-do experiences.

Women race every Wednesday night and men every Friday night throughout the summer. Tresco Boats regularly follow the races - details will be posted on their website and boat boards across the island.

Supported by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas

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