Archive for May 18th, 2012

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

Big Ben and with minutes to go till 7pm the boats head out

Admiral of the Port Challenge Race 2012.  Just over a week ago I received and invitation from a friend of mine whom I met via Twitter to attend this historical race.  To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement…I love this history of the city and anything to do with events in the City gets me all excited…..needless to say I accepted.

Admiral of the Port Challenge Race 2012

Monday 14th May at 7.00pm

The course will be from

The Palace of Westminster


the Westminster Boating Base,

a distance of 1.33 statute miles

The event is open to all Watermen’s four oared cutters in full livery regalia with canopies

carrying the coxswain and two passengers.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

Trinity Tide heading out

“Our boat, which is the Trinity House Cutter “Trinity Tide”, will be the beautiful white cutter with the green canopy”.

(Trinity Tide is one of the few Thames Waterman Cutters that will end up taking part in the Round Canvey Island race later in the year.)
And so, Monday afternoon saw me set off, all dressed up for the Champagne reception that would follow the race, with butterflies in my tummy and delighted to be heading into London central.

When I arrived at just after 5.30pm I noticed a number of small water-craft tied up alongside Westminster Pier and headed on down to have a look around. It was really interesting to see the boats up close and there was an excited buzz of chatter and laughter as the rowers and passengers milled about either putting the bits and pieces together or just catching up.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

attaching/installing the flag….no doubt there is a technical term for this 🙂

It was really interesting watching the oarsman setting up the canopy and the seating area, the different flags, the oars and all the bits and bobs (which I am sure all have professional names 😉 ) and in no time at all it was ‘all aboard’ and off they went into the middle of the river to catch the fast flowing tide and a race to the finish line.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

the boats gathering and heading to the start: Westminster Bridge

I had met up with Joe and his wife Jan, and as a guest of theirs had been invited to the champagne reception after the race.  The plan was for us to see the competitors set off and then race up the stairs of Westminster Bridge, dash across the road and hail the first taxi that came along, then make a mad dash (or as fast as London traffic will allow) to the venue for the finish and the reception.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

one quick photo as I dash up the stairs

So as soon at the boats got to the bridge, we ran along the pier, along the Embankment, up the stairs, hesitated briefly at the traffic lights, ignored the red signal, checked for traffic…none…and ran across the road….dashed along the sidewalk and lo and behold there was a cab…almost as if it had been waiting. We hailed madly, checked that he could go our way, jumped in breathlessly laughing and urged yer man the cabbie to race to the finish line.  It all felt very 007’ish and my heart was racing with excitement (or exertion)!! 😉

We got to the pier (finish line) in good time to watch the boats arrive; very exciting to watch that!!!

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

there in the distance you can catch a glimpse of the boats. at this point I switched over to video, so no stills of the boats coming in…. (p.s. the boats in the foreground were not in the race)

Then for the champagne…hmmm yum.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

champagne 🙂

I was very impressed with the food provided and a great evening was had by all.  But…..my curiosity was piqued! I wanted to know more about this race, so yesterday I sat down and did a bit of research and this is what I found:

“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 for up to six rowers and room for a cox and passengers. It is also simply adapted to the role of Ceremonial Livery barge with extra seating for 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.
This event is raced from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Boating Base, a distance of 1.33 statute miles. The rules require that the Cutters are rowed by four oars, must be rigged with their ceremonial canopies and flags, and must carry two passengers.
Such is the growth in popularity of Cutter racing (there are now more than 25 on the River) the race is often subject to a “staggered start”.   The Cutters are set off in waves so their crews are not only racing against those in their starting rank, but also against the clock, as the winners are the crew that record the fastest time over the course.” for more on that click here.
I also did some research on Trinity House and the reason for that is coz Joe and his team row the ‘Trinity Tide’ which belongs to Trinity House.
“Henry VIII and Pilotage
It is often stated that the origins of Trinity House date back to a charitable guild of sea Samaritans established by Archbishop Stephen Langton in the 12th Century. The first official record is the grant of a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1514 to a fraternity of mariners called the Guild of the Holy Trinity, .. “so that they might regulate the pilotage of ships in the King’s streams”. At the time of inception, this charitable Guild owned a great hall and almshouses, close to the Naval Dockyard at Deptford on the River Thames. In 1604 James I conferred on Trinity House rights concerning compulsory pilotage of shipping and the exclusive right to license pilots in the River Thames. Until our responsibility for District Pilotage was transferred to Port and Harbour Authorities under the 1987 Pilotage Act, we were Pilotage Authority for London and over 40 other Districts, including the major ports of Southampton and Harwich.
Today the Corporation is comprised of a fraternity of approximately 300 Brethren drawn from the Royal and Merchant Navies and leading figures in the shipping industry. Its Master since 1969 was the Duke of Edinburgh, the longest serving Master in Trinity House history. He was succeeded in 2011 by HRH The Princess Royal.” and for more about Trinity House, click here.
So there you have it, another exciting day in the life of a Londoner, and once again I am reminded of just how much there is to see and do in this marvellous city.

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