Great River Race challenge accomplished

Eleven members of the Dart RNLI lifeboat crew have returned, exhilarated but aching, from taking part in the Great River Race on the Thames on Saturday 17 September.
There were over 300 craft taking part including gigs, cutters, whalers, longboats and nineteen dragon boats. However the two RNLI vintage lifeboats were amongst the stars. The Dart crew rowed the Ryder, the 109 year old ex-Looe lifeboat, whilst a team of staff and supporters from the RNLI training college at Poole were rowing a lighter Ruby class lifeboat from Whitby. 
The start at Millwall was in bright sunshine and several of the crew talked of their enjoyment as they rowed under Tower Bridge and past the famous London sites. By the time Westminster was reached the strong blustery head wind had brought one and a half hours of cold drenching rain. The team were lifted by the special cheers the boat received from the watching crowds on the bridges and the huge cheer that went up for her as the cannon fired for her finish. 
The Dart team and Callum Beasley their 18 year old ‘Passenger,’ rowed the 21 mile course in three hours nineteen minutes, coming fifth in the Services section which was won by a team from the Royal Netherlands Naval College. 
Jim Brent, a member of the Dart lifeboat shore crew, had overcome the logistical nightmare of getting a 4.9 tonne vintage lifeboat from her mooring in Polperro to the Thames and back, as well as helming the boat in the race. He said; 
‘It made us all so proud. The star was the boat. We had the pleasure of rowing her and it was a tribute to the Ryder Trust and all those who have been involved in restoring her and to those who crewed her during her 28 years of service at Looe.’ 
The is still open for donations after their amazing effort.

Posted on Wed 21 Sep 2011 by John Fenton

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