Coronavirus concerns lead to early cancellation of another World Pilot Gig Championships

PUBLISHED: 11:23 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:23 01 October 2020

Sidmouth’s A crew rowing into wind on the outward leg of the race. The crew was Megan Rodgers (stroke), Josh Bennett, Matthew Powell, David Gwynn, James Rowe and Gina Rodgers, with Pete Blackmore as cox. Picture: SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Sidmouth’s A crew rowing into wind on the outward leg of the race. The crew was Megan Rodgers (stroke), Josh Bennett, Matthew Powell, David Gwynn, James Rowe and Gina Rodgers, with Pete Blackmore as cox. Picture: SIDMOUTH GIG CLUB

Archant

Devon rowers will be very disappointed to hear the news that the 2021 World Pilot Gig Championships on the Isles of Scilly have been cancelled.

The news was broken by organisers and means that the championships, last held in 2019, will not be back until 2020, at the earliest.

The 2020 event in May with 120 boat crews competing was called off at short notice because of coronavirus.

Organisers said they made the decision because they were aware competitors and spectators had to sort out travel and accommodation well in advance.

The 2020 version of the popular events was set to be the 31st successive year that the championships have been staged.

Organisers said in a statement on Facebook that ‘cautious optimism of a month ago has evaporated’.

The statement continued: ‘To miss one year is bad enough. To miss two… we will stay positive and plan to pick up the pieces when we can’.

The event attracts thousands from across the world, with rowers from the USA and Europe competing.

It has grown since the first championships in 1989 when 19 boats competed.

The practice of gig rowing is believed to date back to the 1700s, when vessels around the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly needed a pilot to help them navigate difficult waters.

The competition uses a style of boat with its origins in the 1700s.

The Cornish pilot is a six-oared rowing boat, 32 feet (9.8m) in length, made of elm.

In recent years crews from Exmouth, Sidmouth and Lyme Regis Gig Clubs have all graced the World Championships.


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