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Cornish racing skiff restored to former glory

Published: June 18, 2019

Falmouth Marine School Falmouth

Boatbuilding students from Falmouth Marine School have restored a Cornish racing skiff for local gig rower Jan Wilkins.

The 15ft Cornish Skiff received repairs and a complete refinish by the students under the Boatbuilding tutors’ guidance.

The students had the opportunity to put into practice all the knowledge and skills they have learnt during their course and undertook a survey of the boat and determine what work was required. The hull was sanded, seams reefed and re-caulked, a number of internal strengthening repairs undertaken and finally the boat was treated to several coats of varnish to return her to her former glory and be ready for the next race season.

Jan, a seasoned rower that competes every year in the Scilly’s Gig Championships and with his Skiff in Cornwall Rowing Association (CRA) events was delighted with the results.

“The finish is fantastic, the students have done a first class job and I look forward to racing her again,” he said.

After Jan collected the Cornish Skiff he competed in the 6th CRA Veterans Skiff Rowing Championships where he came 1st in the Men’s Cornish Randan and 2nd in the Men’s Pair of Paddles.

Boatbuilding Programme Manager Chris Bosanko-Green said, “projects like this enable the students to gain practical experience”.

“There is a lot of problem solving along the way. One of the key skills of a good boatbuilder is problem solving and working your way around situations to get the best outcome. The more projects they work on the more they improve, constantly progressing and adapting.”

The students on the level 2 boatbuilding course start straight from school then they can progress onto the level 3 course.

“The youngest student we currently have with us is 16 and the oldest in their mid-60s,” Chris continued.

“We have students from all walks of life, some learners have experience in the marine industry and others have none. There are always a number of sailors with a desire to learn more, simply to repair their own boats and others wanting a change of career.”

Phil Clarke, aged 66, is one of those students.

Phil had a career as an executive jet pilot for 40 years. He wanted to learn new skills after regulations state that you can’t fly after the age of 65 years.

“I thoroughly enjoy the course and would recommend it to any age person with little or no knowledge of the industry,” he said.

“You can learn as much as you’re willing. The tutors are knowledgeable and always on hand to steer you in the right direction.”

The team at Falmouth Marine School are currently in discussions with the Cornish Pilot Gig Association in a potential project to build a new Cornish Pilot Gig.

Bob Harris, Head of Falmouth Marine School said the next project will hopefully commence in September 2019 with The Cornish Pilot Gig Association.

“This will be a longer term project and will require the learners to manage the project from start to finish under the guidance of the Association and our tutors,” he explained.

“Live projects are a fantastic way to support our learner’s careers as boatbuilders and we are very pleased with the projects that have come in.”

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