News

Pilot gigs take to the water at the West End

  • The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club held its first regatta from its new West End premises on Boaz Island today (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Home team: the Sandys Crabs get ready to take on five other teams in the friendly competition (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Off they go: teams get ready to rescue their stranded team mates as part of the survivors race (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Off they go: teams get ready to rescue their stranded team mates as part of the survivors race (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • The teams line up for the start of the survivors race (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club held its first regatta from its new West End premises on Boaz Island today (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Race results: Not All Limeys took home first prize (Photograph supplied)
  • Getting ready to race: gigs arrive at the new premises on Boaz Island (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Opening ceremony: from left, Simon Groves, Liz Christopher and Roger Gillett welcome rowers and spectators to the first West End Regatta (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • Best-dressed gig: judging gets under way to find the winner of the best-dressed gig competition (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)

The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club held its first West End regatta at its new premises on Boaz Island at the weekend.

The event to commemorate pilot James “Jemmy” Darrell saw six teams compete in a series of races designed to test their piloting skills, speed and agility.

Roger Gillett, BPGC chairman, said each race in the Saturday competition was designed to challenge the teams in different ways and also involved “the sorts of things the pilots in past generations had to do”.

The traditional gigs were used as pilot boats and also rescued people in distress.

Sarah Burrows, location captain and member of the Sandys Crabs team, explained that the first race involved the rescue of “survivors” stranded on Middle Kings Point.

The second race saw each gig carry a pilot flag that had to be placed in a buoy — similar to the traditional race to take pilots to inbound ships.

The salvage race involved teams towing an old tyre, and the final race — capture the flag — represented a pilot being brought back to shore.

Three teams from Spanish Point took part in the event, along with two teams from St George’s and one home team.

The home team took the prize for the best-dressed gig and third place in the race results. First and second place went the Spanish Point teams Not all Limeys and the E-Lemon-Ators.

Ms Burrows said she was excited to take part in the club’s first event at the renovated clubhouse.

She said they hoped to showcase the history of Bermuda’s gigs as well as the “exercise element”.

Ms Burrows added: “The idea is to make this a community club that everyone can celebrate.”

Liz Christopher, a descendant of Mr Darrell and pilot Stephen B. Richardson, the namesake of the gig she raced in, described the new premises as a wonderful event space and a great opportunity for children to get involved.

Ms Christopher added: “I think it’s perfect. I suspect any future events will be really well subscribed.”

Mr Gillett explained that volunteers had worked hard to renovate the pump house of the disused sewage plant on Boaz Island into a new headquarters.

He added: “It’s quite special because it’s ours — it’s dedicated to our activities.”

Simon Groves, chairman of the Boaz Island Village Condominium Association, added: “It’s an example of a private initiative, hard work and a co-operative effort to make something happen that will benefit not just this community but everybody involved in rowing.

“It sets an example for others to follow.”