full screen background image

About the race

The oldest boat race in the world Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager was first raced in 1715 and has now been contested by watermen and lightermen for more than 300 years, potentially making it the oldest continuous race in any sport.

Combining tough competition, heritage and pageantry, the Doggett’s Wager is one of the UK’s most unique events, with winners going on to long careers on the water, and in some cases racing for Great Britain, or ceremonial duties for the Royal Family.

The race is open to watermen and lightermen in the first year of their freedom, which means competitors face the tough challenge of studying for their licence while training for the race. Competitors may enter a total of four times (or until they win!) Up to six watermen and lightermen can compete, so heats are held ahead of race day if more enter.

The types of boat used for the race have varied over the years: originally four-seater passenger wherries, later “old fashion boats” (racing boats but with wooden ‘wings’ – wooden outriggers covered with planking) and from 1906 to 1955 “best” boats. Since then new boats have been provided: clinker gigs in 1956, and replacements in 1964 (for the 250th race) and 1981. From 2015, race sponsor WinTech Racing has provided new single sculls for all competitors’ use.

To find out more about the race, please see this documentary, which was made by Chocolate Films, and was commissioned and produced by the Thames Festival Trust, during the preparation for the 2018 Race.