North Devon will be sending its biggest contingent of gig racers and supporters to the World Pilot Gig Championships in the Scilly Isles next week.

More than 200 from the Ilfracombe, Clovelly, Appledore, Torridge, Barnstaple and Bideford Gig Racing Clubs will be going to the 23rd year of these unique championships, where atmosphere, hospitality and the beautiful island location are as important to many as the racing itself.

The event opens on Friday, May 4, with registrations, followed by men’s and women’s veterans races.

Next day, nearly 900 competitors are expected to line up off St. Agnes at the opening mass start of the seeding races, when competitors of all skill levels, from novices to elite crews, start on equal terms. This spectacle will be followed by two full days of seeding and sprint racing for men and women before culminating in the Sunday finals.

The North Devon club representatives will be making their own way to the championships, by aircraft, helicopter and boat. Some may even sail themselves there, to join an influx of rowers and supporters from a wide area, who will virtually take over the island.