Dave Brooks has sent me the following brilliant and thorough report on the 2013 Mark Boyle Memorial 150th Thames Match along with some superb pictures. I need add nothing.
Dave writes, ”
The Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match 2013.
Saturday 13/07/2013 saw sixteen barges gather to contest the 2013 83rd and 150 yr anniversary Thames Barge Match in tribute to the late Capt. Mark Boyle. Mark was the inspiration behind the return of the Thames Barge Match back in 1995 and worked tirelessly on its behalf until his sad loss late last year.
As the barge match was seeing its 150 yr anniversary a celebration was planned and the match was given the green light to finish at Erith for the first time since 1884.
So to the Lower Hope for the start of the match and in truth the conditions were threatening to put a spanner into the celebrations, as sixteen barges split into three classes awaited the start there wasn’t a puff of wind and it looked very much like we would have a drifting match on our hands.
Coasting class comprising of Cambria, Lady of the Lea, Reminder, Ardwina, Lady Daphne and Centaur were first away and drifted over the line in haphazard fashion, Lady of the Lea, Reminder and Cambria on the Kent side of the river making the better starts. Lady Daphne to whom I had defected for the weekend along with Ardwina and Centaur over on the Essex side were caught in the ebb and with no wind for steerage were heading for the new container port. Lady Daphne had no choice but to anchor and wait.
The Staysail class were fared no better with Wyvenhoe and Edith May soon joining Lady Daphne. It had appeared that Repertor had retired and used her engine to get her out of bother as had Ardwina earlier. Niagara again on the Kent side got away first.
Then the bowsprits got their turn, and having seen the Coasting class go off you might have thought they would have fared a little better. Xylonite and Marjorie were heading towards Essex but somehow managed to avoid the fate that had befallen the Lady Daphne, Edith May and Wyvenhoe all at anchor and seemingly destined to spend most of the day sunbathing. Decima, May and Mirosa made a reasonable start but Edme it would seem carries her own weather and was getting along quite nicely.
A hail from the Wyvenhoe informed us and the Edith May that the barge match committee had made a very difficult decision in allowing Repertor and Ardwina to contest the match having used engines and were also allowing Wyvenhoe, Lady Daphne and Edith May to use them to get off the Essex bank. Glad that I was not on the committee, but I applaud them for making the decision knowing it could provide fierce debate later in the day. The day was for celebration after all and a lot of effort was made by a lot of people, Committee, Owners and Crews to get Sixteen Barges to compete so fair play, and as it happened had very little bearing on the overall result.
I felt for our skipper on the Lady Daphne as the day before we had sailed down the Thames in front of Cambria and was maintaining our lead, giving us all optimism for the race. We struggled with the tide and along with Decima made several attempts to get round the outer mark but were given the nod by the committee to turn where we were.
Whilst we were trying we had an excellent view of the barges heading back up the river in hot pursuit of the Edme. Lady of the Lea looked to be going extremely well and shot by the Cambria whom had clearly ran aground and was stuck for nearly half an hour. I admit I was a little disappointed wanting as always for the Cambria to do well.
We on the Lady Daphne entered into our own private race with Decima as we headed for Erith, with Decima leading until just before the Dartford Bridge. We could see the other barges way ahead of us with only the Centaur behind. Our skipper pulled off a smart bit of sailing and got us ahead of Decima and we stayed ahead until we crossed the finish line.
There were hundreds of spectators on Erith pier to cheer the barges home. I received a phone call to tell me that Cambria was the third barge back behind Edme and Xylonite, much to my surprise. It was a privilege to cross the line and see the barges moored up off Erith in a sight sadly now resigned to historic barge books.
The match for the purist will not go down as a classic but for the romanticists and enthusiast it was a very special day and well done to everybody who made it possible especially Mark Boyle and including the Committee, Erith Yacht Club, Barge Owners/Skippers and Crews and every body watching.”
Dave has since informed me that the Prizes were given out by none other than Robin Knox Johnson.
Thanks for that, Dave.