Saturday, May 19, 2007


Renowned boat builder goes live at the maritime museum

By Stephen Ivall
May 19, 2007

Back by popular demand, and as part of the Fal River Festival, celebrated boat builder Ralph Bird will be giving a talk on the colourful history of the pilot gig.

On Wednesday May 30 at 6.30 pm, renowned pilot gig builder and boat restorer Ralph Bird will be delving into the life of the pilot gig, from 1790 to the present day, during an illustrated evening talk at the Maritime Museum.

As his last talk sold out, he is back as part of the Fal River Festival which is running from 26 May until 10 June. He will explore how gigs were used in rescuing survivors from shipwrecks, carrying flowers and goods, and even for weddings and funerals. Ralph will also be charting the rise of gig racing.

An immensely popular sport today, it is often a great surprise that gig racing actually peaked during the 1830's and 40's when extremely high prize money was up for grabs in many ports. Considering this popularity, another great surprise was the demise of the pilot gig at the end of the 19th century, which left but three surviving gigs at Newquay in 1920.

During his talk, Ralph will be discussing the turnaround of the gig's popularity and the role that Newquay Rowing Club played in its survival.


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