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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Islands' prepare for gig influx
Pilot gigs
Teams from the Netherlands and America are taking part
Almost 2,000 rowers are expected to arrive in the Isles of Scilly to compete in the 16th annual World Pilot Gig Championships.

Nearly 100 gigs are due to take part in the event, including the first team to attend from Wales.

The championships give a huge boost to the economy of the islands, with St Mary's taking more business over the weekend than throughout the year.

Races begin on Friday and continue throughout the Bank Holiday weekend.

Contract battle

Dating back to the 18th Century, gigs are long slim vessels carrying six oarsmen and a coxswain.

The gigs would transport pilots to boats waiting to negotiate the difficult waters around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Oarsmen used to race each other to boats waiting for assistance in order to secure a contract with the pilot.

The popularity of the ancient sport now has teams competing from the Netherlands, America and the Faeroe Islands.

The Caradon men's and Falmouth ladies' teams, both from Cornwall, are taking part in the hope of defending their 2004 titles.


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