Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great River Race

At the last moment remembered the Thames Festival was on and a quick look on the web found out that one event was The Great Race: a maritime rowing marathon down the river from Richmond to Greenwich, and it started at just after 2pm this afternoon.

The idea came from the old tradition of boats that would take passengers up and down the river - the black cabs of their day. And so entries are restricted to traditional-style, coxed craft powered by a minimum of four oars or paddles. And, in keeping with the historic responsibility to apprentice and licence Watermen to carry passengers on the tidal Thames, each boat has to carry a passenger.

Cool! Well, thinks I, haven't seen any boats going by, so maybe they haven't got here yet: time for a cup of tea.

And there was. First there were the race officials in their RIBs, then the first one or two, then there was a flood of rowers, all heading downstream. Just look at the picture above!

This is the greatest of all such river races, with nearly 300 boats entered, thousands of competitors.

And you can following it all on an online Google maps mash-up here.

Pretty much every type of craft was represented from traditional rowing boats to dragon boats, such as this, the Sisterhood boat I posted earlier.

Sometimes the river was really quite congested, as the boats raced against each other (under handicap):

Some were particularly elegant and historic:

There was even this one gondolier!

And these ocean rowers seems pretty relaxed! I wonder if they knew odd-at-sea Sally?

Congratulations to all participants! Must have been great fun - maybe should add rowing to my list of water sports?

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