Our gig, Intégrité, which represents Great Britain in the Contest, was built by the late John Kerr, Boatbuilder and founder of Atlantic Challenge GB, in his workshop in Llandysul, West Wales, in 1992.
Intégrité was originally varnished rather than painted, to reflect the quality of John’s boatbuilding. Now, after 25 years, her latest refit has been completed by Gail McGarva. This work included substantial replanking of the hull, and so Intégrité is now resplendent with a white hull and natural sheer-strake.
The rig is simple and there is work for each of the 13 crew. The two largest of the sails (dipping lug sails) must be lowered and raised again on the other side of the masts each time the gig is turned on the wind, requiring a team of five on each mast. The third sail (mizzen) is used to aid turning and requires another crew member. The gig is rowed by 10 oarsmen, the longest oar being over 18ft.
With the gig’s long waterline length of 38 feet, coupled with a large sailing rig means that astonishing speeds can be gained both under sail or oar. Under full sail it is common for gig to regularly reach speeds of over 10 knots. As a result, the Atlantic Challenge gigs cast a spell over all who sail in them, no matter their background.
Integrite under easy sail during crew training, Portland Harbour, August 2017.