The Great River Race

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Great River Race Background Information

The Great River Race 2009

The Great River Race 2008

The Great River Race 2007 - Mawddach Rowers bring back trophy!

Mawddach Rowers had an extremely enjoyable and successful trip when 19 club members travelled to London, and 3 boats competed in the annual Great River Race held on the 8th September.

In summery conditions, crews rowed 22 miles down the Thames from Richmond to Greenwich under 28 bridges through the centre of London past notable sights and landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Tower Bridge.

There were 280 assorted craft in the race ranging from converted beer barrels to Chinese dragon boats powered by 16 paddlers. With 2000 competitors, it was a truly international event with an intriguing mix of colour, fun and intense competition. The Sisterhood rowing team, whose popularity was guaranteed by Kate Middleton’s involvement, were also competing in the race. It was also great to see a considerable flotilla of craft proudly flying the Welsh flag.

The 2007 race was started by Sting, former lead singer of The Police. The start is never short of incident, with so many boats jostling for position in a narrow stretch of the river. However, once disentangled from the pack, crews settled down to some hard and enjoyable rowing.

A men’s crew from Barmouth: Carey Cartwright, Stephen Elford, George Williams and Arthur Williams coxed by Christine Jones (with Sioned Jones as passenger) brought home the Lt Cdr (SCC) Reg Wheeler Memorial Trophy after winning the Admiralty Sailing Craft (ASC) class in 4hrs 42mins. None of the rowers had ever seen an ASC before (the boat was hired for the event) - and had quite a shock when they did!

Two mixed crews from Barmouth rowed the club’s Celtic Longboats Merlyn y Môr and Draig y Fawddach, completing the course in times of 2hrs 52min and 3hrs 01min respectively, finishing within the top third of their class.

A personal view of the 2007 GRR from John Tremain.

     Fortunately the weather was kind to us, not to hot nor windy, perfect conditions for the long haul to Greenwich. As we progressed down river thousands of spectators on shore or on the bridges encouraged us to the finishing line, which was much appreciated. We even managed a few “oggie oggie oggie” chants under each bridge!

Three hours and many blisters later a tired but elated team crossed the finish line and attempted to ease aching limbs. However the middle of the Thames in a strong tide, with many craft racing towards was not the place to relax, no matter how tired you were. We therefore rowed to the riverbank, which now resembled mudslide strewn with beached craft, and made our way slowly to the yacht club bar.

As we examined our blisters and felt every joint aching we vowed never to compete in the race again, we had the T shirt and certificate that’s surely enough. But this attitude changed as we “socialised” with the other competitors at various locations in Greenwich. We will be back next year and it will take wild (sea) horses to stop us!

The Great River Race 2006

The Mawddach Rowing Club took two boats in 2006. A great event again. Below are a few pictures. The team had some unusual training this year as reported in the Cambrian News on 14th of September 2006.

A Report in Cambrian News on 14th of September 2006.

BARMOUTH Rowing Club's Celtic Longboat was called into a different type of action last Sunday morning when its crew towed a local yacht to safety in the Mawddach estuary near Penmaenpool. The five crew members were taking advantage of the high spring tides to get in some last minute training for this week-end's 22 mile London Great River Race when they spotted the local boat Capritarius adrift just south of Afon Cwm-Mynach.

The Yacht, which had a fuel supply problem, was in danger of being stranded on sandbanks as the tide ebbed. A request by the yacht's crew for a tow was quickly answered as a line to the racing longboat was attached for a tow the short distance to the safe haven of Llyn Penmaen.

Crew member Gill Allday said: "It was good to be of assistance and the extra effort was all good training for the week-end".

Great River Race Background Information

From its debut in 1988, the Great River Race has firmly established itself in the sporting calendar as a classic event which rivals the popularity of the London marathon. The course is a gruelling 22 miles down the Thames from Richmond to Greenwich. It winds through the center of London under 28 bridges past notable sights and landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Tower Bridge.

It was inspired by a charity event in 1987 when The Company of Watermen & Lightermen rowed its shallop (passenger barge) from Hampton Court to the Tower of London. An allcomer’s challenge to beat this record was issued to traditional-style coxed craft powered by a minimum of four rowers. In keeping with the Company’s historic responsibility to apprentice and licence Watermen to carry passengers on the tidal Thames, each boat competing in the race must carry a passenger.

See the Great River Race website for more info.

Rowing Fixtures
Barmouth Race 2007 Results
Barmouth Race 2006 Results
Rowing Pictures
GRR Pictures
Celtic Longboats

Comments to Paul Rendell