Naming of two 19th century replica Pilot Cutters – 3 April 2024


Two replica 19th century Cornish Pilot Cutter rowing boats used to raise thousands of Singapore Dollars for a global welfare charity 10 years ago, have found a new purpose – to train high school maritime students and future African seafarers studying in Simon’s Town, South Africa.

The boats were officially renamed today, Wednesday 3 April 2024, at a special event held at the False Bay Yacht Club (FBYC) in Simon’s Town.

According to the Pilot Gig Rowing Program Manager, Mr Pieter Coetzer:

“The Pilot Cutter boats – or Pilot Gigs as they are also known – are a valuable addition to the Learn to Row programme offered for the past 10 years on a voluntary basis by the Cape Coastal Rowing Club (CCRC) and the False Bay Yacht Club (FBYC).

“The boats are big and heavy and their size and weight make them ideal for orientating new rowers as they are more stable than the slimmer boats currently being used.”

Since its introduction in 2014, the CCRC/FBYC Learn to Row programme has successfully introduced hundreds of Grade 10 to Grade 12 students from the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simon’s Town School to the sport of rowing.

In addition to training Lawhill high school students, the Pilot Gigs are also being used for tertiary maritime training, with SAMTRA Deck Officer of the Watch (OOW) cadets using them to train weekdays from January to October.

The donation of the two boats to their new owner, the Lawhill Maritime Educational Trust (LMET), was made possible by a group of shipping business leaders and enthusiasts based in Singapore and South Africa.   These include Maersk South Africa and Wilhelmsen, amongst others.   After arriving in South Africa in November 23, the boats were restored by a team of rowing and Gig enthusiasts.

The Pilot Gigs – which were previously named Singapore Spirit 1 and 2 – have an interesting and special history.

In 2014, a group of 40 enthusiasts from the maritime and insurance community in the South East Asian City State of Singapore, had them purpose-built in the UK for participation in a 24 hour, 140 kilometre sea endurance “Row around Singapore Island” (RASI) event to raise money for the Mission to Seafarers.

Following today’s naming ceremony, the boats will now be known as Castor and Pollux, regarded as the patrons of sailors.

They were renamed today by Captain Brendon Hawley (who initiated their donation to LMET) and Nomkhitha Mbele (an LMET Trustee).

More information can be obtained from the FBYC Gig Rowing Program Manager, Mr Pieter Coetzer,  WhatsApp: +27 83 780 6704.   Email:

Naming Programme – 3 April 2024-fin

Background to the Two Pilot Gigs/Rowing boats donated to the Lawhill Maritime Educational Trust

  • Participation in Mission RASI

Mission Row Around Singapore Island (RASI), saw two teams in ocean-going rowing boats attempt the 140km journey, taking on the seas and shipping lanes (not to mention two live military firing ranges) to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the island of Singapore.

The event was held during the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence and which also coincided with Singapore Maritime Week on the 22nd / 23rd April, 2015.

  • Building Singapore Spirit 1 and 2, August 2014

The Pilot Gigs – or Cornish Rowing Boats – were designed and built over three months from August to October 2014.

They were later named Singapore Spirit 1 (painted red) and Singapore Spirit 2 (blue) in honour of the great island and people that inspired the Mission RASI challenge.

The boats’ builders Composite Integration Ltd Cornwall & Fusion Composites Ltd (Norfolk) went to great lengths to have one of the boats put on display in London for the launch event on the 11 September, in their own time and their own expense.

Those behind Mission RASI were very keen from the outset to make Mission RASI and entirely self-funded challenge so that 100% of all donations would go to The Mission of Seafarers.


  • Weight: 450kgs
  • Length: 9,8m (or 32ft)
  • Width: 1.47m