At this time of year it’s frankly not unusual to see gigs on Scilly...
Our domestic gig crews are putting paddle to water as they head back out after a long winter in the gym (or pub), whilst every day gigs are arriving on the islands aboard the Scillonian ahead of the World Championships at the end of April.
However, this weekend there was an unusual gig sighting in the Scillonian waters. Off the Eastern Isles, 32 feet of sleek Cornish elm appeared on the horizon, edging ever closer after an epic 30 mile row from the mainland.
The gig – H4H Valiant – was being powered by six men, all of whom were wounded, injured or sick serving or veteran forces personnel who had overcome all the odds to make the journey.
The row from Sennen to Scilly took just over eight hours and was in aid of the charity Help for Heroes. The row marked the culmination of months of hard work not just in training for the row but, unusually, in actually building the gig.
H4H Valiant was built at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall as part of the Great Big Cornish Gig Project, which saw wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran forces personnel train in boatbuilding skills, build the gig and row her to Scilly.
She will now take part in the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships at the end of April.
The Great Big Cornish Gig Project was the idea of amputee Al Henderson, a former Royal Marine who was injured in Afghanistan in 2010.
Mike Selwood, Project Manager said: “Al was undertaking a rehabilitation boat building course. I knew he’d been through tough times, we got chatting, one thing led to another and whilst being introduced to his mentor the idea of really doing something for the community of wounded veterans came to me.”
“I hope this project has opened up new opportunities to wounded military personnel, inspired a new audience to the heritage behind these Cornish boats and built a gig that is not an obstacle to those who want to row it.”
Tresco Supports the Big Cornish Gig Project
Tresco Island was proud to support the Great Big Cornish Gig Project by providing the rowers and their support crew with accommodation after their journey, before they made their way back to the mainland.
The New Inn also provided each member of the team with a pasty and pint on arrival on the island, and the Tresco and Bryher Rowing Club Ladies’ A Crew rowed the gig Alfie Jenkins out to the Eastern Isles to welcome the crew to the islands.
The H4H Valiant gig is now being stored on Tresco until the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships at the end of April.
To find out more about the World Pilot Gig Championships take a look at our events page.