Doggett’s 306: Third Time Lucky?

The Doggett’s badge that was won by Louis Pettifer in 2015.

16 April 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch finds that every Doggett’s has its day.

On 1 March, I reported that the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race that had originally been set to take place on 3 September 2020 and that had then been rescheduled for 16 March 2021 was postponed once again as ongoing lockdown restrictions made water training difficult and the holding of public races impossible.  

The start of the 1952 Doggett’s.

On 23 February, the Government published its four-step plan to ease England’s lockdown and it ruled that all legal limits on social contact could be lifted by 21 June if strict conditions were met. Following this, British Rowing put its plan for a return to rowing on its website saying that by ‘Step 4’ (no earlier than 21 June) “we expect that the rowing community will be fully operational following COVID-Secure protocols”. With this in mind, the Watermen’s Company announced on 23 March that the Doggett’s race for 2020 should take place on 25 June 2021 and that the date of the race for 2021 remains 8 September 2021. 

Near the mid-way point of the 2015 race.

There are precedents for this. The 7,400-metre race from London Bridge to Chelsea was run annually from 1715 until the First World War intervened. There were no races 1915 – 1919 but, in 1920, six races were run over two days for those who had finished their apprenticeships in the missing years. The Second World War meant that there was no racing for the Coat and Badge between 1940 and 1946 and the eight postponed races were held over two days in 1947. 

The finish of the 1869 Coat and Badge.

Four young watermen have entered the 2020 race, though only two names are on the Watermen’s Company website, James Berry and Max Carter-Miller. Berry put in a very impressive performance in 2019 and came second. When he was apprenticed, Carter-Miller joined Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club, a famous breeding ground for Doggett’s winners, so he should not be slow either.   

Eleven Doggett’s winners pictured before the Lord Mayor’s Show in 2019. Left to right: Gary Anness, Roger Spencer, Chris Spencer, Jude McGrane, Jack Keech, Robbie Coleman, Patrick Keech, Simon McCarthy, Jeremy McCarthy, Daniel Arnold and Chris Anness. Picture:  Robert Coleman/@CompanyWatermenLightermen.

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