A first view of the new Harker’s Yard gig – built in glassfibre by apprentices with the Pioneer Trust in Brightlingsea.
The new gig is the same as the well known wooden ones, and was being tested for buoyancy.
Nina Crouchman and the Pioneer Trust’s founder and chairman Rupert Marks were on hand to witness the test and see how well the new gig would perform when capsized and swamped with water.
Harker’s gigs are another class of coastal rowing boat, along with Cornish Pilot Gigs and the St Ayles Skiffs, which are recreating coastal rowing as a sport in the UK. So far 20 have been so far built in wood – using a cold moulded process but if they become waterlogged they tend to sit very low in the water with just a few inches of freeboard – and that means they have to be rescued by another boat or swum to shore by the crew; they don’t have the built in buoyancy that allows them to righted and rowed onwards by their crew.
This new gig was has built in buoyancy which gives it a huge advantage over the wooden ones. Caroline Ellis from the Pioneer Trust has developed the new gig with expert design help from Rob White of White Formula – which made a mould from a wooden gig that will now be used by apprentices to make the GRP model.
White formula also did the buoyancy tanks which are fitted in before the wooden thwarts and gunwales and other touches that still make this gig look very traditional. The new gigs will weigh the same as the wooden ones so they can be raced together but they will cost around £10 thousand pounds as opposed to £12 thousand for the older model.
There are also savings to be made on upkeep-like painting (a paint job can cost around £400 just in paint) – and they can be left out on a mooring, plus they’ll probably be a bit tougher and less prone to wear and tear than the wooden ones as well. And they’ll come in different colours…
See more at www.pioneerck18.org