Steamship Company Finds More Seats For Gig Rowers

Gig loading on scillonian 2013The Chairman of Scilly’s Gig Championship Committee says more seats have been found for rowers travelling here in May.

But he’s also issued a warning to local to keep their prices reasonable or risk driving the event away.

Rick Persich had contacted the Steamship Company after receiving “more complaints than ever before” about the costs and difficulties of getting over here.

One club has chartered a boat for ten members to make the crossing.

He’s been working with Anne Curnow-Care, Secretary of the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, to try to resolve the problems.

Anne says the Steamship Company has now released more tickets for the championship weekend.

Clubs have been asked to give the names of those having travel difficulties so they can be contacted first.

Some competitors will come in on the Saturday morning Scillonian sailing, which will be rescheduled for an hour earlier.

The Steamship Company says they are anticipating more than 5,000 passenger journeys over the weekend and it will be their biggest ever World Pilot Gig Championships.

Rick says the popularity of this year’s event, the 25th anniversary, has taken everyone by surprise.

There are 140 gigs registered, up 11 on last year’s total.

Rick says with a crew of seven for each new gig, that’s another seventy or eighty people coming over, even without supporters.

Comments have appeared on some social media sites, criticising the cost of the event and suggesting it’s time for a switch to the mainland.

But Rick says he’s keen to “scotch any rumblings” that the event could move to Weymouth, to make it cheaper and give more opportunities for family members to attend.

Rick says his committee holds the trademark for the event. But more importantly, he believes the overwhelming majority of rowers want to come to Scilly.

Weymouth may have the facilities left over from being an Olympic venue, he says, but the event wouldn’t have the unique setting or the same atmosphere. That’s because people would go home at the end of each day’s racing rather than socialise.

But Rick says it’s “unpalatable” the way many islands’ establishments have been hiking their prices at gig weekend.

He says while the number of rowers has increased each year, the accompanying supporters have gone down. People have told him that’s because of cost.

“If it becomes overpriced,” says Rick “it will move and we’ll lose that income forever.”

“It’s foolish to shoot the goose that lays the golden egg,” he says.

He’s asking all establishments in Scilly to moderate their prices next year and will be discussing it with the Islands’ Partnership.

The Steamship Company says they are sponsoring the event to the tune of around £40,000 this year, which includes subsidised freight and discounted tickets.

This year there’s a brand new club competing for the first time. Porkellis Moor Rowing Club are based at Stithians Lake and only formed last July.