The first plank is in place on the new racing boat that Lyme Regis Gig Club will take to the World Pilot Gig Championships 2024.
The new wooden boat has been commissioned and is being built by Rob Hounslow, the club’s current men’s team co-captain and a lecturer at the prestigious Boat Building Academy (BBA) in Lyme Regis, where the craft is being constructed.
Rob said: “So far, it’s all going very well. Progress is a little slower than I’d like it to be, however, that’s not an unusual feeling to have on a project like this!
“I am beginning to realise that the sheer lengths of timber that are required to make the boat are a bit tricky to handle on your own, but so far, I am managing.
“It really is such an honour to have been given the opportunity to build this boat. For someone who is both a boat builder and passionate gig rower I can’t think of anything better than building the boat that you will then be representing your club in.”
The annual World Pilot Gig Championships are held on the Isles of Scilly during May Day Bank Holiday weekend and attract crews from across the South West and further afield.
Pilot gigs are a six-oared rowing boat, built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet (9.8 m) long with a beam of 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m).
The Cornish Pilot Gig Association closely monitors their construction, and its’ Standards Officer measures every gig at least three times, to ensure that it conforms to the standards set by the Association.
Rob said: “It’s a big responsibility. Everything has to be absolutely spot-on, or it will not be approved for racing, and because this is the first Cornish Pilot Gig I have built it can be slightly nerve-wracking. However, the standards team and the Cornish pilot gig association have been very supportive and helpful.”
The new, as yet un-named boat will continue the club tradition of all its wooden racing boats being built in Lyme Regis.
The three existing boats: Rebel, Black Ven – and Tempest which it will replace as the clubs primary racing boat – were all built in Lyme Regis by local boat builder and former BBA graduate, Gail McGarva.
Will Reed, Principal at the Boat Building Academy said: “Rob joined us as a student in the Wooden Boat Building Class of March 2012 and has gone on to become a talented boat builder in his own right, as well as a much-valued lecturer here at the Academy.
“This is an important collaboration with Lyme Regis Gig Club, allowing our students to learn new skills and be involved with a significant build.
“It’s also thrilling to watch Rob work and to think that the boat taking shape before our eyes in the workshop will be racing in the World Championships in Scilly next May.”