Rowers seek public help to win £10k funding for historic sport

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 November 2017

Portishead Pilot Gig has begun teaching newcomers the basics. Picture: Portishead Pilot Gig Club

Portishead Pilot Gig has begun teaching newcomers the basics. Picture: Portishead Pilot Gig Club

Portishead Pilot Gig Club

A new rowing organisation has been set up in Portishead and it hopes the public will help it earn thousands of pounds in funding.

Waitrose has donated cash to the project. Picture: Portishead Pilot Gig Club Waitrose has donated cash to the project. Picture: Portishead Pilot Gig Club

Fledgling Portishead Pilot Gig Club hopes to bring a new form of watersports to the town and emulate the success of its Clevedon counterparts.

This week, the club received a donation from Waitrose and applied for a £10,000 grant through the Aviva Community Fund. The scheme sees public votes dictate which UK projects receive crucial funding and the club needs it to get a racing gig.

However, it has already begun teaching the basics to newcomers.

In its Aviva application, a club spokesman said: “Cornish pilot gig racing is one of the most popular and fastest growing watersports in the South West, with 70 clubs and more than 8,000 active gig rowers competing at regattas along the UK’s picturesque coastline, culminating in the annual World Pilot Gig Rowing Championships on the beautiful Isles of Scilly.

“Gig boats are 32ft long, wooden, six-oared rowing boats, traditionally used for piloting, harbour work and as lifeboats.

“Cornish gig racing has a long and colourful history dating back to the early 1800s when gigs raced to transport pilots out to ships to secure the right to navigate safe passage into harbour.

“The introduction of gig rowing to Portishead builds on a proud industrial and maritime heritage at this strategic point in the Bristol Channel, with strong currents, shifting sandbanks and the second highest tidal range in the world.

“Records of the work of the Pill pilots date back to the historic voyage of Cabot’s Matthew in 1497, and commercial shipping operating from the Royal Portbury Dock continues to be an impressive sight, passing close to the Portishead shoreline.”

Since coming up with the idea in the spring, the club has received interest from about 100 people. And it believes there is a chance to offer something different in Portishead.

Its spokesman said: “Development has grown our community to some 27,000 residents, drawn by the stunning marina, waterside restaurants, coastal path and views of Wales.

“Despite this, there are few opportunities to get out on the water and make use of the jewel in our community assets.

“With membership at less than £11 per month, gig rowing aims to provide an affordable and accessible opportunity to try an exhilarating new sport in the heart of the community, get involved in a local club and forge new friendships.

“Gig rowing is more than a sport, it’s a community – whether you’re looking for a social way of getting fit or aiming to compete at the highest level, there’s something for everyone.

“With big, stable boats, it’s suitable for all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels.

“The exhilaration of rowing on open water, learning a new skill and being part of a team provides great mental health benefits.

“And it’s not just about rowing. It’s about getting involved in your local community, sharing and developing skills from first aid to boat maintenance, finance to social media.”

Club member Holly Lertxundi Willis thanked its supporters.

She said: “The up-and-coming club would like to thank the community for its tremendous support in getting the new pilot gig club get set up and receiving a warm welcome to the town.

“The money received so far will go towards getting some safety kit, but the club is in desperate need of obtaining a racing gig. We hope you can support this cause by voting for us in the Aviva appeal.”

She also thanked Portishead Quay Marina and Bluetree for their sponsorship.

Votes for the Aviva fund can be cast at

Other Sport Stories

In the later phases of the swimming season a number of campaigns, both local and regional, come to a close.

Read more

If you are a footballer aged 16 or 17 on September 1 and would like to trial for the under-18 Somerset Floodlight League, Portishead Town FC will holding match trials at the BGS sports complex (4G), in Failand starting at 10am to noon on Sunday.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:00

Harry Kane dug England out of a hole and secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:55

As the crowds gathered for day two of the Cleeve Beer, Cider & Gin Festival, coupled with the family fun day, Cleeve skipper, Glenn Lewin was keen the side put in a performance after several weeks of below par results. So, on winning the toss, Redcliffe were invited to bat first.

Read more
Mon, 12:00

With a reported three million pre-order sales, Nigeria’s kit is this summer’s standout design, but where does it sit amongst the greatest World Cup kits of all time?

Read more
Sunday, June 17, 2018

David Platt’s late winner against Belgium saw England advance to the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but how much do you remember about the match?

Read more
Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pelé or Baggio? Batistuta or Maradona? Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Thomas or Gerd Müller?

Read more
Friday, June 15, 2018

From They Think It’s All Overs to Hands of God, 18-year-old solos and eight-second openers by San Marino, let it never be said that England’s participation in the World Cup has been boring.

Read more
Thursday, June 14, 2018

It’s a competition within a competition that has been won by some of the world’s greatest players, but who do you think will win the Golden Boot award at the World Cup?

Read more

Most Read Sport

Read Online

Read the North Somerset Times e-edition E-edition

Local Weather



max temp: 19°C

min temp: 12°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Send Your Letters
Order Photos
Family notices
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

North Somerset Times twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

Somerset's trusted business finder

Find planning applications