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Admiral of the Port Challenge Race

The Admiral of the Port is the Lord Mayor of London and this was a race in his honour. The course of this race is from HQS Wellington to the Westminster Boating Base, Pimlico, a distance of two nautical miles. Boats then continue upstream and disembark at Chelsea Harbour Pier. The race is for Thames Traditional Rowing Association (TTRA) members in four-oared Watermen’s cutters and skerries carrying a coxswain and two passengers. The Livery Companies’ and Full TTRA members’ boats are dressed in full Livery regalia and where possible should have either the Company Master, Senior Liveryman or Clerk on board. On this occasion, the Water Forget-me-not was carrying the Master and Consort.

Crews and passengers mustered on the South Bank at Coin Street Shoal just downstream of Waterloo Bridge and after preparations smoothly glided off into the main river. The water was deceptively calm but its dangers were demonstrated when the Information Technologists’ Cutter was caught under the protective tyres on the mooring barge when it was hit by a wave from a passing boat. Unfortunately, it sustained serious damage and had to be withdrawn from the race.
We soon drew up at the starting line, a point between HQS Wellington and the South Bank. We were off. We were against Foxy rowed by women from the Richmond Bridge Rowing Club and Priscilla with a mixed crew from the Port of London Authority (PLA). The PLA boat was quickly into the lead and despite the strenuous efforts of our cox and crew we struggled to catch up. We did manage to keep up with them but not sufficiently to make up the initial distance lost. The team were magnanimous in defeat but the post-mortem began immediately. The PLA boat had just returned to the water after a significant refurbishment. Was it the non-stick coating applied to the hull or the clever rebalancing of their boat (one passenger sat in the bows)? I did not dare admit that following a year as Master I had not lost weight.
At Chelsea Harbour Pier we all congregated in a local pub where we shared beers and food with the other teams. It was a great evening and I am very grateful to our great team for the privilege to join them on our Cutter on the Thames on so many occasions over the past year. Next time we will win!

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