World Pilot Gig Championships Start Today In Scilly

The 23rd World Pilot Gig Championships starts today.

The atmosphere was good in town last night and by this evening there’ll be an extra 1500 people here, with two sailings of the Scillonian III at 6.00am and 1.15pm.

The Skybus planes and helicopter service is also fully booked.

Police estimate there’ll be up to 7000 people here in total for the islands’ biggest annual event and an extra seven police officers will be drafted in to cover the shift patterns over the holiday weekend.

Kevin Sheriss, in charge of registration on the Gig Championships committee, says 130 gigs are taking part this year, which represents the biggest number of entrants to date.

And he thinks the event could grow even further – there’s enough room for another 10 on the storage trailers. The St Agnes start line, which is concave, will be 1.5 miles long tomorrow and that could be expanded easily to 2 miles to allow more boats in without problems, says Kevin.

But Kevin doesn’t think the Scilly crew will do as well this year as in 2011. He says they haven’t been putting in the training and there’s no enthusiasm. He doesn’t think they’ll even make the top 12.

It’ll be Caradon, Falmouth, Par and Mounts Bay in the top four, predicts Kevin.

And with a record number of entrants this year, suggestions that a championship-style event at Weymouth could eclipse Scilly can be dismissed.

He said nobody seems to want it to go there and the fact there are more gigs in Scilly than ever this year proves that point, says Kevin.

The racing will start at 6.30pm this evening with the Ladies Veterans race, followed by the Mens Vets at 8pm.

This year, the Dutch will enter a vets crew.

Both races were won by crew from Scilly last year, but the Tresco and Bryher vets who won the Ladies race in the Alfie Jenkins won’t be going for a second victory tonight, according to their club chairman Alasdair Moore

He said that winning crew have decided to take a break but he says it’s still seen as a great moment for the club.