Classic Boat — November 2017

(Barré) #1


One of the capital's great annual spectacles took place on 8 September,
when more than 330 craft took to the water to race from the Docklands,
east of the city, upriver to Ham, in the far western, leafy suburbs. It's a
rowing race for everyone from serious competitors to charity fundraisers
in costume, and has a staggering array of boats, from the popular types
like the St Ayles Skis, to coracles and gondolas.
The race was first held in 1988 and used to run downriver from Ham
to Docklands. It changed direction in 2009, a move that was so popular
with competitors and spectators (over 20,000 at the finish alone) that it
has been adopted as the regular format. These days, well over 300 boats
carry around 2,400 competitors, racing the 21.6-mile course for 35
East Sussex boatbuilder Ryan Kearley and Essex boatbuilder Brian
Kennell were among those on the water. Ryan, rowing the triple-sculled,
26ft (8m) traditional Thames ski Gecko (built by Ben Fowler), said: "If
you go too fast, you end up missing most of it!"
The 1898 wooden Thames Sailing Barge Edme has
belonged to the same syndicate for 25 years, based in St
Osyth, and regularly wins races, most recently the Colne
Smack and Barge Race (above). She’s never had an
engine and is rigged as she was in 1898.
London's other marathon
Maria and Edme clear up in the workboats
The Colne Smack and Barge Race on 2 September started late (because of tides) and with no wind. But soon the wind
picked up and the fleet sailed from Bateman’s Tower at Brightlingsea, out to Colne Bar, then Bench Head and back to
the start. The smack race was won by CK 21 Maria, which also won the Bob Harman Memorial Trophy for coming first
overall. First in the Barges was Edme which also came third overall (see story below) and was awarded the CSPS Barge
Cup and the Golden Cockerel. James Hamilton
New BBC series on classic boats
Edme (above) will feature in a new television series Britain
Afloat, which is set to run every Saturday night on BBC2 at
8pm, until 4 November. The series "explores the regional
distinctiveness of boat design and the floating way of life".
As we went to press, it was due to start on 30 September.
The other boats covered are the coracle, the narrow boat,
the punt, the Mersey sailing boats and the rowing eight.
CB writer Dick Durham is interviewed in the barge episode.
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