Dear CFOGA Clubs,

We hope you are all well and have been enjoying some winter training.

1. Just To Be Clear

We are writing to you regarding the relationship between ourselves and the Cornish Pilot Gig Association.

Since the CPGA AGM in January, it has been brought to our attention that there is allegedly conflict between our charities. This news has come to us via the rowing community and has resulted in a handful of clubs withdrawing their interest and affiliation to CFOGA.

This has come as a shock and a huge disappointment to the trustees of CFOGA, as we have been unaware of any reason for conflict, having progressed with the establishment of the CFOGA openly and inclusively of the CPGA. The development of CFOGA as an independent charity has been the outcome of progression that has occurred over the last eighteen years.

There are currently only two wooden Cornish four oared gigs in existence: Regatta built in 2004 for Bude Gig Club, and Boy Ben built in 2005 for a private individual. During the building of each, the CPGA was encouraged by Ralph Bird to incorporate the Cornish four oared gigs into their association.

In 2017 Ralph’s son, Patrick Bird, bought Regatta with a view to building identical four-oared gigs, which the CPGA was made aware of. In 2018 it was suggested again in a meeting with the CPGA Chairman that the association should take on four-oared gigs. The CPGA showed some interest, so measuring began on both Regatta and Boy Ben and quotes were provided to the CPGA for the building of four-oared gigs. The CPGA resumed uninterest in the four-oared gigs with no apparent action, progress or contact being made since 2020. The CFOGA was therefore founded in 2021 as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to actively begin the revival of the four-oared sport, as per Ralph Bird’s wishes, with the design being registered at the Intellectual Property Office to keep it protected.

Being affiliated with CFOGA is by no means exclusive, and on behalf of our trustees we would like to express our continued desire to work together with the CPGA to provide the best possible experiences for our rowers and clubs, of the four-oared and six-oared gigs. We welcome discussions on the matter with open arms. We believe that if we work together and with synergy, the outcome will be hugely beneficial to all involved.

We therefore would like to reiterate that as far as we are concerned there is no reason for conflict between our charities, rather it should simply be a complementary sport. If anyone in your club has any concerns regarding CFOGA we would like to express an invitation to get in touch, either by email or phone, and we would be glad to chat about it.

2. New Trustees
The CFOGA is delighted to welcome Vanessa Bird and Ella Sutton to the board of trustees.
Vanessa is the daughter of the late Ralph Bird and is passionate about keeping his legacy alive and protected in the proper way.
Ella has been brought up with gigs at Porthgain Rowing Club, with the pilot gig Ella Rose named after her (and the four-oared gig Boy Ben named after her brother!). Ella is also the CFOGA regional representative for Wales.
3. CFOGA Loan Boats
Four-Titude and Oar-Dacity have been hard at work between many clubs over the last few months. Please do get in touch if your club would like to borrow one of the loan boats in the near future. They come fully equipped, though collection from another club may be necessary.
4. Racing
Whilst there may be a shortage of Cornish Four-Oared Gigs right now, there is certainly an appetite to race them! We are delighted that the South East England Gig League will now be incorporating the racing of wooden and GRP four-oared gigs along with pilot gigs and other classes. If you and/or your neighbouring clubs would like to hold four-oared gig races or leagues, please do let us know and we will do our very best to assist you with boats and any other support we can give. We are excited to be making progress with four-oared gigs and our events calendar is underway so watch this space for races to get involved with over the coming year.
Many thanks,
Greta Kendall – Secretary, CFOGA
Reg charity no: 1197071