History

Bermuda’s Pilot Gig Rowing History
Bermuda Pilot Gigs are traditional pilot rowing boats which were an important part of Bermuda’s multi-racial maritime history. The use of pilot gigs began in Bermuda in the 1600’s and continued through 1930. The pilot gigs were responsible for ensuring safe passage of visiting ships through Bermuda’s treacherous reef system. The pilot gigs were raced to approaching ships to compete for the opportunity to pilot the ships approaching the island – the first boat to reach the ship would get the job!

Pilot Gig Rowing Today
Our pilot gigs are 32 foot long, six-oared rowing boats, historically wooden but are now constructed of fiberglass for easy maintenance. They are sea-going and are almost exactly the same design as the pilot gigs used in Bermuda for hundreds of years. The boats are used every morning and evening during the week and weekend. Our active members range from age 14 to 70+, in which all ages engage in social and/or competitive rowing. We feel our Pilot Gig initiative speaks to:

Cultural Heritage
Pilot Gigs are an important part of Bermuda’s multi-racial maritime history. In addition to our sporting events the gigs are used for reenactments and local tourist experiences, thereby contributing to Bermuda’s cultural tourism appeal. The Bermuda Tourism Authority fully and financially supports our project.

Youth and Sport
Pilot gig racing is fast becoming an international sport for which Bermuda’s waters are ideally suited.  The sport is open to everyone from schoolchildren to senior citizens.  It promotes the development of ‘team spirit’, self-esteem and fitness.  It is a grass roots sport which has broad appeal for all segments of the community.

Health and Fitness
The Bermuda Diabetes Association has recognized the importance of gig rowing as a unique and exciting alternative in helping people pursue a healthy lifestyle and preventing the onset of diabetes. They consequently provided funding for one of our gigs and supported one of our regattas in autumn 2015.