Porlock Weir Gig Club - Return row to IOS WPGC

by Porlock Weir Gig Club in Porlock Weir, England, United Kingdom


Gift Aid
+ est. £17.50
£1,000 target 8 days left
9% 5 supporters
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 24th January 2021 at 12:00am

Porlock Weir Gig Club is inviting the community to offer contributions to help bridge the shortfall in club funds created by COVID-19.

by Porlock Weir Gig Club in Porlock Weir, England, United Kingdom

We wish to purchase more equipment so we can expand our membership and encourage new people of any age and ability to give gig rowing a go. We recently received our new gig Goose and need additional equipment like seats (to ride the waves comfortably) and for safe use of her with lifejackets and radios. The funds will also be used to maintain our current equipment, including a yearly maintenance on both wooden gigs including Circe who is over 25 years old, trailer repairs and other general maintenance. We will be very grateful for any donations!

Porlock Weir Gig Club is inviting the community to offer contributions to help bridge the shortfall in club funds created by COVID-19.

About us

Porlock Weir Pilot Gig Club was founded in 2018 by Ben Allerton who recognised the growing need for the sport on Exmoor, in this fast growing traditional sport.
After founding the club a training gig was kindly borrowed from Boscastle Pilot Gig Club (rival) to enable potential new members to get a taste of the sport and begin on water training.
This created a large amount of interest and within 12 months the club has over 40 members, this number is still growing.

In December 2018 we were successful in bidding for the opportunity to purchase Circe which was gifted to the CPGA from Nankersey. She arrived at Porlock Weir in January 2019.

February 2020 work started by Andrew Nancarrow to build Goose. She was delivered to us in October 2020. We will have to wait until 2021 to give her a proper Porlock Weir welcome!

We are a friendly and welcoming Pilot Gig rowing club that gives people of all abilities and ages the chance to experience Gig Rowing.

We are a growing club and provide social rows for those who want to enjoy the experience of gig rowing to competitive racing crews who enjoy the thrill of the race from when the flag is up to past the finish line.

Please help!

Rowing has not been permitted during the national lockdowns and COVID-19 and has had a huge impact on our club finances. Although we are now rowing out of national lockdown, during lockdowns we suspended membership payments and been unable to achieve our fundraising goals as we would normally would. We still must cover our costs, including:

  • Insurance fees
  • Boat maintenance
  • Trailer maintenance
  • Lifejacket servicing 
  • Additional costs incurred by Covid-19, such as cleaning products to ensure a safe return to rowing

How we will use funds raised

We are glad we can row again outside of national lockdowns to meet up with fellow crew members again and to be outside enjoying the fantastic coastline we have on our doorstep.

However, we have depleted most of our funds covering the above overheads and have had no income during lockdowns. 

We are a growing and improving club. We wish to increase participation, but to do this we need enough equipment to support our current members and potential new ones. All our equipment needs to be regularly serviced and maintained.

We need to raise money for:

  • The yearly maintenance of a wooden gig - a minimum of £1,500. We now have two Circe and Goose.
  • Annual insurance. £900
  • Gig cover for Goose and new cover for Circe as we do not have a gig shed and are stored outside all year round and in all weather. £1000
  • Cleaning products to ensure a safe return to rowing, approx. £100.
  • Additional essential safety equipment radios and lifejackets, approx. £200.

How do we normally make money?

We would normally fundraise throughout the year holding a range of events. This ensures we can cover all our overheads, maintain our equipment, and buy new equipment when needed. 

We always participate in local events and raise money for charity within the local community this includes Porlock Carnival.

However due to government guidelines it has not been possible to organise any activities this year

We also rely on local businesses support for their sponsorship. But as they too have been under financial pressures, we have not had the same level of support this year.

Our plans in 2020 have been put on hold. But hopefully 2021 we shall continue. We were going to our first World Pilot Gig Championships this year, but we will hopefully in 2022. This is our inspiration for this challenge we have set ourselves.




We have set ourselves the challenge to collectively row either on or off the water a total distance of 638km. This is the return distance from Porlock Weir to the Isles of Scilly where the World Pilot Gig Championships are held each year. In addition, we will row the total the distance of all the allotted races at the championships. This will be done over a 28-day period.


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How you can help

Anything you donate now will go a long way to help us reach our goals.

Crowdfunder has made it 100% free for community and charity crowdfunding projects during the coronavirus crisis.




So what is Pilot Gig Rowing?

We are governed by the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) the association's Standards Officer is responsible for measuring every Gig at least three times during construction, who ensure all Gigs are made to be almost identical. The finer details may vary to the standard set by the association. 

They have to be a eight seats (Thwarts) in total. Six seats for the rowers, one for the Cox and one other for the Pilot, traditionally built of Cornish Narrow Leaf Elm and are 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m).

They are recognised as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues going back as far as the late 17th century.
The original purpose of the Cornish Pilot Gig was a general work boat and the craft was used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels off the Atlantic.

The Scilly's Pilots were excellently placed to be the first to aboard these vessels. They earned themselves the reputation for being the best Pilots to take ships into almost any port in Northern Europe. The super-fast shape of the Pilot Gig evolved so that crews from the different islands could get to the visiting vessels first (often those about to run aground on rocks), and therefore getting their Pilots the job of guiding the ship to it's destination and hence the payment.

With the invention of modern shipping, the Pilot Gigs fell out of favour, and all but disappeared, until in 1921 when a group of Newquay rowers, recently returned from World War One, decided to race the Gigs that remained. Later when World War Two began in 1939, gig rowing became of little importance, except for training cadets. After World War Two in 1947 Newquay started racing its Gigs again, and by 1986 Gig racing was popular enough to require a governing body, and this is when the CPGA was formed and the blueprints for all modern Gigs where laid down.

All modern racing gigs are based on drawings created by Ralph Bird taken from measurements of the Gig Treffry. She was built in 1838 by William Peters of St. Mawes she is still owned and raced by Newquay Rowing Club. However non-racing Gigs have been built which do not conform to the exact specification of the Treffry and are disallowed from racing in competitive races.

A few of these very old Gigs still endure, mostly in their original homes on the Isles of Scilly.
Today, Pilot Gigs are used primarily for sport and in recent times has seen a huge resurgence with around 100 clubs across the globe. The main concentration is within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, however the sport has spread eastwards across the United Kingdom with clubs existing in Devon, Dorset, Sussex, Somerset, Wales and London. Internationally, there are Pilot Gig clubs in France, Netherlands, Ireland, Middle East, Faroe Islands, Australia, Bermuda, and United States of America.
The Gig season gets into full swing with the World Championships held over the May Bank-holiday weekend on the Isles of Scilly. The World Championships sees almost all of the Gigs racing in a single race. The lagoon between St Agnes and St Mary's practically boils as Gigs battle for position to gain the advantage in the heats that take place later in the weekend. The season sees individual clubs holding their own regattas throughout the warmer months, culminating in the Men's and Ladies County Championships held at Newquay in September.
Currently there are over 200 gigs on the CPGA's register of gigs. This does not include the Isles of Scilly.


These are unprecedented times and anything you can donate will be hugely appreciated! 


Let's make 'Porlock Weir Gig Club - Return row to IOS WPGC' happen

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