‘Biggest Ever’ Gig Championships Start Today

gig oarsThe World Pilot Gig Championships start today and this weekend’s event will be the biggest in its 24-year history.

Kevin Sherris, who is in charge of registering the entrants, says there are 133 ladies and 135 mens crew set to start.

Aside from the social and sporting side of the weekend, it’s also the biggest boost all year to the islands’ economy.

Richard Mills owns Porthmellon-based restaurant Speros and the Sailing Centre as well as being on the Islands Partnership tourism body.

Richard says the championships are a massive boost, with the accommodation fully booked and extra sales of food and drink. He said it’s also a great shop window for the islands, especially if those people go home and tell their friends what a great time they had over the weekend.

Richard says while there have been calls in the past for the championships to be staged elsewhere because of cost, he says 90% of entrants still want it to stay in Scilly because of the great atmosphere here.

Julian Pearce from the Council’s Economic Development team says the event really makes a difference to the islands.

Julian says around 2,000 extra people come here with an estimated benefit of around half-a-million pounds for the local economy.

He’s encouraging local people to welcome the visitors and come out and enjoy the events.

And he says the beauty of Scilly is that if you don’t like the sport, you can always go and enjoy the peace and tranquillity the other side of St Mary’s or an off-island.

Chairman of the Championships, Rick Persich, says the committee isn’t here to provide a business or tourism boost to the islands, it’s about providing a first-rate sporting event.

But he says they’re still pleased that the local businesses will benefit so much from the weekend, especially in these difficult times.

The 24th World Pilot Gigs Championships start this evening at 6.30pm with the veterans races from St Agnes to St Mary’s.

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