Other PicoMicroYacht

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Richmond to Putney and rowing the Oxford Cambridge boat race course (well backwards)

1st June 2014

It was an evening row and I was in a rush to get the boat in the water before the Richmond barrage went up and I would have to go through the adjacent lock. The barrage is removed towards high tide to let water flow up stream but comes into play after high tide to stop it all flowing out.

The barrage down on another day

Due to inattention and navigational blunder I managed to go under the bridge and not realise I had just passed the barrage in the up position - above my head.

The tide was taking me downstream at quite a pace and soon I was at the boat race course. Of course I was facing backwards, so had the view that the TV cameras give you going forwards (if that is not too confusing). 

I passed under Barnes bridge, lining the boat up in reverse in the trajectories that I thought were used by the coxes.

In fact I went over the exact spot that Cambridge sank in 1978 and as I rowed down stream I could image the path it took as it got more and more swamped. Cue the commentary:

‘It could be a sinking … yes it is … they’ve gone into the dolphin effect …and now it’s panic … unbelievable how they could go down so quickly … they’re all still alive … what a tragic finish …’ 

(editor: how the commentator came up with the 'dophin effect,' I don't know, but it was mightily impressive - never heard it since). 

By the way, PicoMicroYacht has the advantage that it won't swamp and so sink - water just runs out the stern end.

The various riverside pubs you see on the boat race day appeared, including the Blue Anchor. But I was covering the course quickly as the tide pushed me on.

Soon I was under Hammersmith Bridge and with the river clear was able to take full advantage of the stream, passing Fulham Football club on the Middlesex shore.

Finally, I was at Putney, my finish. It was getting darker and the twilight look with reflections reminded me of the nocturne river paintings by the English/ American artist James Whistler.

PicoMicroYacht Photograph

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Nocturne: Blue and Gold  circa 1872-5
Oil on canvas

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