They were designed for racing and training, but were rather tippy for novices. So the whiff gig was developed with a broader beam (about 2ft 8in) and shorter at 19ft. A coach could sit in the seat and steer, making the whiff gig ideal for training and pleasure as well as carrying one of the most charming names of any boat type. Whiff gig. Lovely.
Willow is a beautifully restored example of a whiff gig, shown by a Thames Traditional Boat Society member. A great deal of the structure had to be replaced, as the accompanying board with bits that had to be rejected shows.
And I got to row her. Nick Wilder kindly held my camera on shore and took this snap, from which you can see the usual problem of inadequate legroom. Behind is the umpires' steam launch Consuta, whose great length gave her the speed to keep up with racing eights.