Isles of Scilly 2021 World Pilot Gig Championships cancelled

  • Published
Pilot gig race
Image caption,
The championships attract thousands of people from across the world

The 2021 World Pilot Gig Championships on the Isles of Scilly have been cancelled, organisers have said.

The 2020 event in May with 120 boat crews competing was called off at short notice because of coronavirus.

Organisers said they made the decision because they were aware competitors and spectators had to sort out travel and accommodation well in advance.

They said: "We will stay positive and plan to pick up the pieces when we can."

Image caption,
The last championships were in 2019 - 30 years after the competition started

The islands, about 28 miles (45km) south west of Cornwall, were supposed to be hosting the 31st year of the competition.

Organisers said in a statement on Facebook that "cautious optimism of a month ago has evaporated".

They said: "To miss one year is bad enough. To miss two… we will stay positive and plan to pick up the pieces when we can."

The event attracts thousands from across the world, with rowers from the USA and Europe competing.

It has grown since the first championships in 1989 when 19 boats competed.

The practice of gig rowing is believed to date back to the 1700s, when vessels around the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly needed a pilot to help them navigate difficult waters.

The competition has uses a style of boat with its origins in the 1700s. The Cornish pilot is a six-oared rowing boat, 32 feet (9.8m) in length, made of elm.

One Cornish gig rower said before the announcement she thought it unlikely the 2021 championships would be held.

Nicola Bliss, who has been setting up a crew in Par, Cornwall, said if she had "been a betting woman" her hunch had been it would not go ahead, even though "we've been back in the boats since the beginning of September".

She added: "It doesn't mean that racing won't be happening at all, or there won't be something else."

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