Dart crew enter the Great River Race

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Ten RNLI crewmen from Dartmouth are preparing to row the four and a half ton Ryder lifeboat for 21 miles from London Docklands to Richmond-on-Thames in the Great River Race on Saturday 17 September.

The Great River Race, London's River Marathon, starting at 1.40pm, is a spectacular boat race up the River Thames that attracts over 300 crews from all over the globe and appeals to every level of competitor from those who enjoy fun, fancy dress and charity stunts, to serious sportsmen and women who like to win.

 The Ryder is one of only three fully restored pulling and sailing lifeboats left in the country and she is the only surviving Standard Self-Righting Lifeboat, the mainstay of the RNLI for over 80 years, to be displayed afloat. The start of the race is only a short distance from Bow Creek, where she was built in 1902 by the Thames Ironworks. Two years before that the Thames Ironworks Football Club turned professional, calling themselves the West Ham United F.C.; their nickname 'The Hammers,' and their badge depicting crossed riveting hammers, reflects this association.

The Ryder, now restored and on display in Polperro Harbour, served as the Looe lifeboat until 1930. During her 28 years at Looe she was launched on twelve occasions, saving a total of 37 lives in the process. She was built at a cost of £835, funded by a legacy from Mr William Ryder of Brixton, London, and went on station at Looe in May 1902. She was crewed by a coxswain, second coxswain, bowman and ten oarsmen as well as being fitted with a lugsail and mizzen.

The Ryder will be towed from Polperro to Fowey to be lifted out and then transported to London for the race. The whole cost of the transport, some £1500, has been generously donated by David Rowlands of Fairground fame. The Great River Race is a similar charity fundraising event to the London Marathon. The entry fees from the crews of the 300 or so boats are distributed to charities chosen by the organisers and the crews also raise money for their individual charities. Last year the Dart crew raised £2800 for the RNLI with their Source to the Sea Challenge when they ran, cycled and rowed from Dartmoor to Dartmouth.

This time they will be joining Dragon boats, coracles, gigs and normal sculls for the 21 mile handicap race from Bow to Richmond-on-Thames. The team, consisting of ten oarsmen, one bowman in reserve and the coxswain, will take some four hours to row the four ton lifeboat up the course.

There is already a JustGiving site in the name of Kevin John, Dart crewman in the team. http://www.justgiving.com/dartrnliriverrace and the individual crewmen taking part will have sponsor forms. Another opportunity to make a supporting donation is at the Lifeboat Station during the Dartmouth Regatta on Thursday 25, Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August.

Photographs of the Dart team getting in practice at Polperro can be seen in the Crew Events section of the Photo gallery on the Dart RNLI station web site at www.dartlifeboat.org.uk

Posted on Tue 23 Aug 2011 by John Fenton Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer

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