Anchors aweigh! Students complete epic charity boat project
Published: 7th September 2021
A Cornish Pilot Gig built by local college students for a Cornish Veteran’s charity will take its maiden voyage this week, 35 years after a previous college cohort built its predecessor.
EPIC GIGability is a charity that supports Veterans by helping them achieve a healthier, fitter lifestyle with a focus on reducing the negative impact of poor mental health.
Registered with the Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA), the organisation aims to develop and train crews to row Cornish Pilot Gigs both socially and competitively.
This Thursday, 9 September, the charity will unveil its brand-new boat – built under the title of the ‘ENERGY 2’ project – by more than 60 students on courses at Falmouth Marine School, a world-renowned boat building specialist college.
The build was part of a project that study programme manager for boatbuilding at the college, Chris Bosanko-Green said was a “privilege” to be involved with.
“Authorised CPGA Gig builders are probably only in single figures, so Falmouth Marine School are incredibly proud to be in this elite group.
“The new boat is painted in the exact same colour blue as the original 1985 boat “ENERGY”, having been scanned from a half model painted in the original paint.
“And it has been built from plans, made solely by students, under the guidance of our staff.
“This project has formed a strong relationship between the CPGA and Falmouth Marine School and there is hope of repeating the project again in the near future to help new gig clubs acquire a traditionally built gig.”
One of the students involved, Charlie Jenkins, commented: “It’s great to be involved in something that will go down in history and be remembered for years to come. It’ll be a good story to tell down the pub when I am older. It just needs some people to make it go fast now!
“I think we were really lucky to get the opportunity and it gave us a really good insight into what’s involved in boat building.
“Maintaining a high standard regardless of the task was one of the biggest lessons I took away from the course. In fact, I really want to build another gig by myself now!
“The team at the college were fantastic. I had no previous woodworking skills before starting the course so to go from nothing to building a boat in a year was not easy, but it’s all credit to how we were taught and how the skills were passed onto us.
“There were always going to be some challenging parts but luckily the teachers were patient when they had to explain things for the 3rd or 4th time. It’s always better to check than to make a mistake.
“More importantly, I felt as though I had the confidence to start my own business after the course to try and find my own work.
Charlie has now finished his course and has gone on to set up his own business with an aim to building and repairing Gigs.
Fellow student, Bob White, added: “Imagine the satisfaction of being part of the team of craftsmen and craftswomen who all share pride in their skill to produce such a beautiful vessel. Then consider the reasons for building this gig and the people who will crew it.
“Both these things have made my participation in this project, however small it was, a wonderful experience!”
Falmouth Marine School, which is part of The Cornwall College Group, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary of teaching boat building, with thousands of students learning the valuable trade and moving on to travel the globe with their new skills.
It is known for its industry-leading training, which is proven by the fact that students from this cohort have already secured jobs at world-class boatbuilders such as Pendennis Shipyard, Princess Yachts, Oyster Yachts and Cockwell’s Boats.
Students who helped build ENERGY 2 will be present in Falmouth for its launch on Thursday and will be joined by some of those from the original 1985 build as well.