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The 2019 Race Competitors are Announced Along with their Colours and Stations

Four recently-qualified watermen will battle it out on the River Thames in central London on 4 September in the annual Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager, the oldest rowing race in the world, started in 1715.

Starting at 2pm, the seven furlong (7,400 metre) sculling challenge, from London Bridge to Cadogan Pier, Chelsea, is a curtain-raiser course to the month-long Totally Thames festival. It’s a gruelling test of the participants’ knowledge of the river and sporting prowess.

This year’s competitors, all making their race debut, are:

Patrick Keech (21) from Hextable, near Dartford, graduates this summer in Marketing from Portsmouth University. He started rowing at a young age in London’s Royal Docks with his brother Jack, who won the 2017 race. A member of the Tideway Scullers club in Chiswick, he will be rowing in red. He was the UK national youth sailing champion in 2015.  Patrick will be rowing in Station 1.

James Berry (22), a master captain with MBNA Thames Clippers. He comes from Canterbury, where he is a member of the King’s School Boat Club. He’ll be rowing in light blue. In 2018, Brazilian jiu jitsu helped him lose six and a half stone in weight.  James will be rowing in Station 2.

George Gilbert (21) from Bexleyheath in Kent, rowing in green on race day, is also a member of Globe Rowing Club. He’s employed by Capital Pleasure Boats (CPBS), based at Temple in central London, and previously worked at City Cruises.  George will be rowing in Station 3.

Jack Finelli (21), rowing in dark blue. He works for Thames tug operators GPS and is a member of Globe Rowing Club, Greenwich. His hometown is Gravesend.  Jack will be rowing in Station 4.

The race was established by Thomas Doggett, an Irish actor, comedian and former manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, in recognition of the skills and bravery of a newly licensed waterman, who rowed him home to Chelsea from the City late one foggy night over three centuries ago. Following his death in 1722, Doggett was buried in Eltham Church Yard.

Last year’s winner, Alfie Anderson from Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club , completed the four-mile course in 25 minutes and 27 seconds and went on to receive the ceremonial scarlet coat, an honour awarded to every winner in the race’s 300-year history, featuring a large silver badge on the arm, designed by Doggett himself.

Alfie said: “It’s hard to describe what winning the Doggett’ Race means to any waterman. It’s not just the genuine prestige attached to taking the title, it’s about joining decades of River Thames workers who have participated over the years, with many families able to trace their connection to the race back through many generations.

“It’s also an extremely tough challenge, both mentally and physically, requiring hours of practice. I wish all this year’s hopefuls the very best of luck.”

The race champion is officially recognised at a livery dinner at Fishmongers’ Hall each November, attended by previous winners, all wearing their victor’s red coat.

Other previous winners of the race include Sean Collins (in 1990), the chief executive and co-founder of MBNA Thames Clippers, and the Port of London Authority’s Michael Russell in 1997.

The race record of 22 minutes and 23 seconds, set in 1973, is held by Bobby Prentice, who will once again umpire the race this year.

This race is organised by the Company of Watermen & Lightermen and the Fishmongers’ Company. It is sponsored by Oarsport and luxury watchmakers Pinchbeck.

For further information please contact: Nick Tennant on 07784 208074.