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Cornwall’s newest gig takes shape for military rowers

Published: February 24, 2020

Falmouth Marine School Falmouth Marine School

An iconic Cornish gig project is fast 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, a vessel that reputedly initiated the modern interest in gig racing.

This new boat commissioned by the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) and built under the close watchful eye of established Gig Builder Andrew Nancarrows, will be launched in the summer, joining 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. With Andrew’s involvement as mentor and overseen by Simon Combe and myself, the students have had to learn lots of new skills to construct the boat to exacting standards as prescribed by the CPGA.”

Over 40 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’ will be used by EPIC GIGability – The Veterans Cornish Pilot Gig Club. This newly formed club is the brainchild of Mike Selwood of the National Maritime Museum, following his involvement in the 2016 Epic Gig Row.

That event saw a gig called ‘Valiant’ rowed by veterans with physical and mental challenges from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly and handed 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.

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 said; “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.”

Falmouth Marine School works closely with companies and organisations like Pendennis Shipyard and the CPGA, offering award winning programmes, with this project being another milestone in their long history of offering traditional boatbuilding provision.

Steve concluded, “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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