Our Gigs & Skiffs
Cornish Pilot Gigs are 32ft long sea rowing boats that are built from elm and oak. They are rowed by a crew of six and a coxswain.
All gigs constructed today are built following original specifications laid down by the Peter’s family in the form of the gig ‘Treffry’, built in 1838 and still being occasionally raced today by the Newquay Rowing Club.
In 2007 Lyme Regis Gig Club commissioned the Boat Building Academy to build their first Cornish Pilot gig with Gail McGarva as the lead builder and the late Ralph Bird as her mentor. On the 29th June 2008 Rebel was launched. Her name was chosen by the membership in recognition of her being built on Monmouth Beach and the part Lyme had to play in Monmouth Rebellion.
With a rapidly rising membership, very swiftly the club commissioned Gail, now working an independent boat builder, to build their second gig. Black Ven was launched in August 2009. She is named after the Fossil rich cliffs to the east of the town, which make up part of the Jurassic coast World Heritage site.
As a testament to Lyme’s passion for Cornish Pilot gig racing, the Club went onto commission Gail to build their third wooden gig. On the 29th September 2012, Tempest was launched, rowed out to sea by the new thriving youth section of the club. The name was chosen as it is believed that Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’ was inspired by the tempestuous sea journey of Lyme’s Admiral George Somers.
In 2009 Lyme’s gig club comissioned and purchased fibreglass gig Revenge, which is named after one of the three Lyme ships recorded as having joined Queen Elizabeth 1st’s Lord High Admiral Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake in the battles against the Spanish Armada in 1588. A second fibreglass gig was added to the Lyme’s fleet in 2016 with the purchase of Prospero, named after Shakespeare’s sorcerer in ‘The Tempest’. Prospero is a new high-quality low-maintenance vessel built by Fusion GRP Gigs using vacuum infusion fibreglass technique giving a performance closely matched to the club’s wooden gigs.
Lyme Regis Gig Club launched their first Cornish Sea Skiff in 2013. Built by Gail McGarva, funded in large measure by Lyme Regis Boys Club and named Gale Force the skiff is ideal for young people between 8 to 12 years old and their parents to learn to row and become highly proficient members of the Club’s competitive crews, The skiff is 15ft feet long and can be rowed by one person using two paddles (sometimes called sculls), by a crew of two with an oar apiece or by three with paddles and oars. Gale Force carries the Number 56 which was designated by the Cornwall Rowing Association who measure skiffs for racing and support a vibrant racing community in Cornwall.
Our wooden skiff has a special story as she is the daughterboat of the oldest surviving skiff built by the late John Badger of Durgan, the Helford Estury, who built many skiffs during his years as a boatbuilder. His son Phil Badger very kindly agreed to lend the motherboat ‘Mandarine’ to Lyme Regis Gig Club and the lines of our new skiff have been inspired by her. In partnership with The Boat Building Academy and with funding from National Historic Ships and The Transport Trust, we set up a bespoke training course enabled by members of Cornwall Rowing Association and the Lyme Gig Club to be guided through the process of ‘taking the lines’ from the motherboat and then lofting the daughterboat. A set of building moulds for the new skiff were created from the lofting. By capturing the lines of John Badger’s boat, we are preserving the lineage of the Cornish skiff as we believe this is the first time one has been lofted. Our new generation skiff enables young people to delight in the joy of sea rowing, bringing life to a new generation of rowers.
To enable the Club to respond to the interest of local young people Lyme Regis Gig Club commisioned and purchased in 2016 fibreglass Cornish Sea Skiff Storm, Force which has been fitted out by Harry Poulson, a newly qualified boatbuilder, champion sea skiff rower and member of Lyme Regis Gig Club.