Often people complain about the Thames being quiet and under used, the recent events like the Tall ships at Woolwich and Greenwich and the start of the Clipper round the World race have challenged those assumptions. Today we have yet another event that will see the Thames full of boats of many different shapes and sizes.
Many people will be familiar with the role that the isle of Dogs plays in the London Marathon, however many may not be aware that it is the starting point for the “River Marathon” better known as The Great River Race.
The Great River Race is a 21 mile spectacular boat race up the River Thames that attracts over 300 crews from all over the globe and thousands of spectators. The race starts at Millwall Dock slipway and finishes in Ham in Surrey, what adds to the enjoyment is the varied types of boats taking part which have included in the past an Hawaiian outrigger war canoe, Viking longboat, Norwegian scow, Canadian C-8 canoe, Chinese dragon boats, magnificent replica 54′ bronze age Greek galley and numerous Cornish pilot and other gigs, skiffs and cutters.
Because the race is run on a handicap system all types of boats and crew can take part and have equal chance to win. When the race was first run in 1988 there were 72 boats, this has now grown to 300 boats representing most parts of the UK and other crews from around the world.
To acknowledge its status as the biggest event of its kind in Europe it has been included in The Mayor’s Thames Festival, which offers 10 days of Thames themed entertainments.