Blessing the boats

02 November 2006

THESE slim vessels, crewed by eight tough oarsmen, were originally used ttake the pilot out to sailing ships returning to port. The gig that could reacthe clipper first, and could get a pilot on board, got paid; so it was a highlcompetitive business, and the reason why they needed such strong crews.

Now the boats are sporting vessels, but the races they take part in neejust as much muscle-power. In the Cornish villages of Flushing and Mylor, sayAnne Oliver, chairman of the local club, "we're quite mad." They race everweekend through the summer months, and go out training three nights a week. Uto 100 members take part, including three junior crews, the youngest aged jusnine.

The gig, Pinnacle, truly belongs to the villagers; for they were sold sharein the naval tradition of 64ths at 312.50 each, with the idea that they shouleventually be repaid. But the villagers have so enjoyed the idea of owning plank or so of their boat that they have given their shares, and were startinto do the same for her new sister gig, Penarrow, though a timely grant paid fomost of her.

Both boats were drawn up on the beach at Flushing when the Bishop of <>, the Rt Revd Bill Ind, arrived in a strong south-westerly winto name Penarrow, with the help of the Nankersey Male Choir and a bottle ochampagne (left), and to rededicate both boats.

He was then invited to pick a crew from the names in a bucket, and went ouwith them to row. "He only broke one thole pin, which wasn't bad," Mrs Olivetold me.

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