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Cornwall’s Latest Gig Takes Shape for Military Rowers

Cornwall's latest Gig takes shape in Falmouth

Published: 28th April 2020

Cornwall’s latest gig project is taking shape securing traditional boatbuilding skills for the future while delivering a new craft for a military veterans gig club.

The “Energy 2 Project” is based on the very successful gig called “Energy” that was built by Falmouth Marine School students in 1985 and one that reputedly initiated the modern interest in gig racing.

This new boat has been commissioned by the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) and when completed in the summer, will join a new rowing club run by Military Veterans for Military Veterans.

Chris Bosanko-Green, Boatbuilding Course Manager, Falmouth Marine School said, “We were approached by the CPGA to build a new craft to commemorate thirty five years since the launch of the original “Energy” boat.

“Our students have been extremely busy working on the project since last September, Overseen by Simon Combe and myself, they have had to learn lots of new skills to construct the boat to exacting standards as prescribed by the CPGA.”

Over forty students will be involved in the final build with the official launch taking place in late June.

Shane Sullivan, Chair, Cornish Pilot Gig Association added, “We are delighted to commission this gig with Falmouth Marine School and the progress is quite remarkable given that many of the students working on the project have no previous boatbuilding skills or knowledge.

“What the tutors and students have achieved is fantastic and we are really looking forward to the day when the boat is in the water and being used by the new club.”

“Energy 2” is to be used by EPIC GIGability – The Veterans Cornish Pilot Gig Club.  This newly formed club has been the brain child of Mike Selwood of the National Maritime Museum, following his involvement in the 2016 “Epic Gig Row”, which saw another new gig called “Valiant” be rowed by veterans with physical and mental challenges from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly; where they handed “Valiant” over to the Help for Heroes gig rowing team.

Since that project, Mike has strived to establish a club for Veterans with a focus on wellbeing, fitness and of course camaraderie. Together with two former Veterans who has studied boatbuilding at Falmouth Marine School, the formation of the new club began.

Bill Sharpe, retired lieutenant colonel and Chair of the EPIC GIGability Club commented, “With full support from the CPGA the club intends to encourage Military Veterans of all ages and abilities to row as a pathway to a healthier life, with enrichment of wellbeing and friendship.

“Everyone connected to the club is thrilled to be taking ownership of “Energy 2”, although not her final name this will be revealed at the official launch.  We are very excited about using the gig to help Veterans overcome mental health and physical barriers and we cannot thank enough the staff and students at Falmouth Marine School for building such a fine craft.”

Falmouth Marine School will also be celebrating 100 years of teaching boatbuilding courses later this year, with plans for a special event and mass launch of various craft hand-built by students.

Steve Taylor, Head of Campus, Falmouth Marine School concluded, “As Cornwall’s leading provider of specialist boatbuilding courses, we are extremely honoured to be involved in this project for the benefit of former forces personnel.

“Our knowledge and skills base has been developed over many years, delivering both full-time and apprenticeship training to the local marine industry.”

The College works with a multitude of top companies and organisations in the marine sector, such as  Pendennis Shipyard and the CPGA.

“We offer award winning programmes and this project is another milestone in our long history of offering a traditional boatbuilding provision” he continued.

“We really appreciate this opportunity to teach and promote gig building for future generations and I am convinced that students who worked on this project will remember it for a very long time.”

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