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Off the beaten track - Boats and boatmen

Giugno 2016
La storia delle pilot gigs risale all’Ottocento, quando aiutavano le barche a entrare in porto, un lavoro molto richiesto e ben pagato! Oggi, le barchette rimangono tali nelle fattezze, ma cambia la destinazione d’uso: con le gigs si fanno le gare!

di Luke Philips © British Council

File audio:

Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

By the sea in the south-west of England in the summer, you can see people rowing incredibly fast in small boats. The boats are called pilot gigs, or gigs for short. They don’t have engines, but seven people instead: six rowers and someone to steer. The oldest existing gig was built in 1838 and is still used today. 

the scilly isles

As well as local races, annual World Championships are held in the Isles of Scilly, a group of islands 45km off the coast of Cornwall. Although the sport is most popular in the south-west of the UK, there are also clubs in London, Wales, the Netherlands, France, the Faroe Islands, the USA and Australia. None of the competitors are professional, and there are both men’s and women’s races. Today 55 clubs and 145 gigs are registered with the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, which controls this fast-growing sport.

the pilot     

The man in charge of a gig was the pilot and his job was to guide sailing ships into harbours. He was rowed out to the ship by his crew, and used his local knowledge to avoid underwater rocks and other dangers. The captains paid plenty of money for pilots, and most harbours had more than one gig, so they had to race to the ship to get there first.

Still Popular

In the early 1900s, people stopped using sailing ships and stopped using small harbours in general, so help was no longer needed from gigs. Thanks to local people who love them, however, they are still being built and raced today.

Can I Try?    

Many local clubs offer courses, including Newquay Rowing Club, where beginners can try the sport each Monday night between May and September. Despite its incredibly low cost, it is totally professional and great fun.

For more information on gigs and gig racing, go to: http://gigrower.co.uk/

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Gigs. Canoe, barchette a remi. Questo termime è abbastanza arcaico e specifico, oggi la parola gig indica un concerto (non di musica classica, ma di un gruppo rock). Si può usare anche per indicare un lavoro oppure un’attività. Ad esempio: John has got a holiday job working as a barman in a disco. It’s a great gig!