Norwich Rowing Club first invited traditional boats to take part in 2010 and three crews took up the challenge. Following the 2011 race David Bolton, chairman of Norwich Rowing Club, extended the invitation once again and this year
crews from Langstone Cutters Rowing Club, Brightlingsea Coastal Rowing Club, Lower Thames Rowing Club and Norfolk Skiff Club continued the tradition of racing through Norwich in fixed seat boats, which had started almost 200 years before.
The traditional boats, ranged in size from Raineach a 15 feet 3 inch Norwegian faering crewed by Roland Harris and his daughters to Sallyport and Bembridge, 30 foot Solent Galleys rowed by crews from Langstone Cutters. In between were a variety of rowed gigs and sculled
skiffs including the randan rigged Leigh Ho from Lower Thames, and the vibrantly painted gigs Vanduara and Velocity from Brightlingsea.
Norfolk Skiff Club was represented by the veteran skiffs Cherub and Widgeon and Roland's Raineach.
Norwich Rowing Club added to the fun with the club tub double rowed by Santa's elves and Father Christmas himself; the boat beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and parcels. I'm sure that I was not alone to notice that Santa had chosen two
tidy and powerful scullers for his little helpers on this occasion.
All the boats received a handicap related to their size and crew composition. The slowest boat started first, a full 4 minutes ahead of the next to go.
The first half of the race follows the twisting course of the river Wensum through the city and under five bridges, where spectators had gathered to watch the event and encourage the crews. Beyond the Trowse railway bridge the river widens giving the faster crews an opportunity to overtake as they pass Carrow Yacht Club and the Whitlingham Boat Houses. From this point the race is on the river Yare and the crews can lengthen their strokes for the 1000 metre straight leading to the finish line.
By the time that all the crews had recovered their boats and made their way to Norwich Rowing Club, the results of all the day's races had been published.
Spirit of Dunkirk had secured the prize for the fastest boat on handicap and Renown, also from Lower Thames Rowing Club, was awarded the prize for the fastest sculled boat to complete the course.
All agreed that it had been a marvellous day and were making plans to return to Norwich next year.