Two crews from Aberystwyth will take part in the 34th Great River Race in London on Saturday, 16 September.
Members of Aberystwyth Sea Rowing Club and Aberystwyth Rowing Club will be among the more than 240 crews and 1,500 competitors taking part in the epic charity race.
The Great River Race is an event for traditional and traditional-style boats, powered by a minimum of four oars or paddles; sliding seats and riggers are now allowed.
Each boat must be coxed and, in keeping with the Watermen’s role as the taxi drivers of the Thames, must carry a passenger.
The fastest boat overall wins the Challenge Trophy of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.
A spokesperson for Aberystwyth Mixed Veterans, who will be rowing in their Celtic longboat, Ceridwen, said: “Well, we can conjure up a lot of experience. Our team comprises two couples plus two more friends.
“It includes a professor, an artist, a local historian, an amateur opera singer, a keeper of parrots and a man who can turn his hand to anything.
“We have been rowing together for many years now, some of us going back to Great River Races of the late 1990s, and we have rowed across the Irish Sea a few times as well, but the downside to all this experience is that we are not as young as we were, but we may surprise everyone yet!”
The race, which runs from Millwall in East London to Ham, Richmond, covers 21.6 miles, through central London, and can be watched from viewing points along the course. For those looking on from afar, crew progress can be tracked on the Great River Race website or by using the Follow my Challenge app.
Aberystwyth’s rowers will be in fine company with crews travelling to the capital city from all over the world, including Canada’s only skiff club, the Ayle of Quinte Skiffe Club in Prince Edward County, which is sending a crew of 68 to 77-year-olds, making a change from their usually limited rowing season of May to September, in between ice freezes; representation from the United States, Spain and New Zealand; and almost 20 crews from the Netherlands, including the youth crew from the Shipping and Transport School, Rotterdam. This crew are aged 17 to 24, and are mostly student maritime officers. The club has raced three times before, but not in recent times, with funding being a challenge – but this year sponsors have stepped in to enable the young crew to travel the 350kms to London to race.
This supplements a strong youth contingent in this year’s race, with 20 Scout crews competing from across the UK.
Crews are racing in boats ranging from the traditional Salter’s Skiff “Messing About”, which is competing in its 20th Great River Race, to super rafs, such as the Madsat raf, competing for the third time.
Many crews take part to raise money for charity, with over 30 charities being supported this year, including the RNLI, Kids Matter, Sea Scouts, Stand Up To Cancer and Mind.