Tuesday, 20 June 2017

166. Admiral of the Port's Challenge

This race was inaugurated by the Lord Mayor to mark his dual role of Admiral of the Port of London. It is contested by traditional Thames Waterman's Cutters.  The Thames Waterman's Cutter is 34 feet long with a beam of 4 feet, 6 inches. In keeping with the concept of traditional rowing, it has fixed seats and room for a cox and two passengers under a stern canopy. In this form the Cutter closely resembles the decorated craft often seen in historical scenes of the Thames in earlier centuries. Our cutter is called the “Water Forget me Not”.

This event is raced from HQS Wellington to Westminster Boating Base, a distance of 1.33 statute miles (although it seems much further than that!). The rules of the race require that the Cutters are rowed by four oars, must be rigged with their ceremonial canopies and flags, and must carry two passengers.

This year’s race was held on the hottest day of the year, the 19th June, with temperatures reaching 33C in London. We gathered on the foreshore of the South Bank of the Thames (close to the National Theatre and Waterloo Bridge) at 6.00pm to prepare the cutter and get in position for the start of the race at 7.00pm. (See photograph of our cutter on the foreshore). Merlin Dwan, son of our Bargemaster Johnny Dwan, took charge of the event for us and ensured that our four rowers (all female and from the Poplar Rowing Club) and our cox (Aran), were there on time and ready to go!

Our rowers have an enviable record of success and didn’t let us down. At 7.00pm we were in position alongside HQS Wellington (see photograph of Fiona and I on board and ready to go) with two other all female crew from the PLA and the Glaziers Company. As the start signal was given we powered off up the Thames with the benefit of a strong incoming tide. The rowers were magnificent and immediately pulled away from the competition! As we passed the Palace of Westminster (see photograph) we were almost a minute ahead of the closest other cutter and we made it to the Westminster Boating Base in just over 15 minutes and were the clear winners!

The Lord Mayor, Alderman Andrew Parmley presented our crew and cox with the winners rose bowl, and liquid refreshments and some fine canap├ęs quickly restored the needs of the crews. (See photograph of our successful crew with Merlin Dwan on the left and our cox on the right).

A great evening with well deserved success for our rowers.

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