What is a rigger jigger?
A rigger jigger is the essential rowers spanner with a 10mm ring at one end and 13mm ring at the other. The rigger jigger is a universal spanner for every European rowing boat – the 10mm ring for bolting the riggers to the boat and the 13mm ring for the nut on the top of the gate, the top nut.
What are the origins of the rigger jigger?
The origin of the phrase rigger jigger within the context of rowing is unclear. The meaning of a rigger is pretty straightforward being someone who rigs sailing vessels and is skilled in the use of pulleys, lifting gear and cranes etc. In later use, this became the name for a rowing bracket on a racing shell or other boat to support a projecting rowlock or gate.
The first rowing riggers were made from wood in the early 1800’s and later from iron. George Isaacs patented a form of moving rigger in 1876 but two years later John Baines patented the rowlock (gate). This was subsequently refined into the gate with locking swing-arm that we know today by Roberts & Knight also in 1876. The rigger itself has developed from simple wooden devices to complicated steel structures and now into lightweight sleek carbon wings.
Empacher’s patent drawings from the 1990’s for a wing rigger
The term jigger was originally a variation of chigger which meant to interfere or manipulate something in order to get something done illegally. We don’t encourage you to do any such thing with a rigger jigger today but the world jigger seems apt. In the nautical world, jigger was also the lowermost sail on a jiggermast was also used to describe a 1.5-ounce shot glass in the USA in the early 1800s. In informal use, the word jigger came to mean anything that didn’t really have a name and was also convoluted to jiggumbob and jiggobob as meaning something unknown.