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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Racers swell islands' population
Pilot gigs
Teams battled it out in near perfect weather conditions
The population of the Isles of Scilly doubled over the Bank Holiday weekend for the World Pilot Gig Championships.

The annual event gave a massive boost to the islands' economy, which greatly depends on summer tourism.

Organisers of the 18th championship said it had been the biggest yet, with more than 100 gigs and their crews fighting it out on Scillonian waters.

"It's quite a sight. I can understand why everyone wants to be involved," committee member Kevin Sherris said.

Smuggling boats

"It looks like an armada of gigs, half a mile long," he said.

"On the mainland the crews will row, then disappear back to their homes.

"But over here they're a captive audience, so crews from all over the world all socialise and it's fantastic."

Gigs were originally built at the end of the 18th Century in Cornwall to take pilot out to sailing ships because many harbours were too small for the ships to anchor in.

Pilot gigs
The islands have hosted the world championships since 1990

It was essential for gigs to be fast as the first boat to reach the anchored ship was given money for the job.

Gigs have also been used as lifeboats and are rumoured to have been used by some for smuggling.

Teams from the Netherlands, Wales and the Faroe Islands took part in the races, together with crews from Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly and the Royal Navy.

Caradon men's crew from Cornwall lifted the men's title in the Miller's Daughter for the 12th time.

The women's final was won by the Falmouth crew in Irene Too.

The competition saw its closest finish

Gig racing halted by bad weather
30 Apr 05 |  Cornwall
Islands' prepare for gig influx
29 Apr 05 |  Cornwall


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