Gig Championships The Goal For New Bermuda Gig Club

Bermuda Gig Club rowers. From the club's Facebook page.

Bermuda Gig Club rowers. From the club’s Facebook page.

This year’s Gig Championships welcomed new entrants from Ireland and the United States. And the 2016 event could feature a crew from the British overseas territory of Bermuda.

The island has been gripped by gig fever after islanders invited a Devon-based rowing expert to visit.

Debbie Jones from Bermuda was visiting Appledore when she called into Steve Lock’s café and saw his display of gig pictures.

Debbie explained that there was a long history of gigs on Bermuda, where they were used to guide shipping across the treacherous reefs to the harbour.

And she says they also provided transport between the islands before a series of bridges were built in the late 19th Century.

But the traditional boats died out as newer technology was introduced.

Steve was invited to Bermuda last autumn and since then he’s been assisting in training crew, who are using three 32-foot fibreglass boats constructed by Trevor Deakin in St Austell.

The gigs, which are named after famous Bermudan pilots, were initially going to be used for historical re-enactments.

But they have been supported by cash from the islands’ health and wellbeing agencies, because of the fitness and team-building benefits of rowing, so they’ll now be used for competitive rowing.

The gigs were raced for the first time last Friday, a national holiday in Bermuda.

And Debbie says the spectacle of the boats cutting across Ferry Reach, a mile-long stretch of water near their airport, generated a great deal of interest.

Now the Bermuda club are determined to come to the islands for next year’s championships

Debbie says the rowers “know all about the Isles of Scilly” and their goal this year will be to get a team together to visit next May.