The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Brice takes 299th Doggett’s

Posted by rowingvoice on July 12, 2013

Coat and Badge, 12 July; Chelsea

One hopes that next year’s 300th Doggett’s will provide as good a race as the 299th on 12 July when Henry McCarthy, son of previous winner Simon, challenged Nathaniel Brice, a captain with City Cruises who was third last year, all the way. Brice reached Chelsea by an official three lengths ahead of McCarthy, but to my eye it was a bit more. Hard to tell, though, while following in a launch on a balmy day with a slack tide, or any kind of day for that matter, but it’s an honourable result for winner and loser in a race of more than five miles.

Brice had a flying start – he went on the ‘g’ of ‘Go” smartly a fraction before the umpire, newly instated Master of the Watermen’s Company Bobbie Prentice, dropped his flag. Brice (Poplar) in light blue, Stuart Coleman (Poplar) in green and McCarthy (Poplar) in red were the early leaders, bunched together and clashing their sculls almost before they cleared the shadow of London Bridge.

Dominic Couglin (Medway Towns) caught a crab early on and was dropped by the umpire soon after the first bridge. Samuel Metcalf (London RC) made a strong challenge in the early stages, despite having only apparently started rowing four months ago. McCarthy and Charlie Maynard (orange, Poplar) took the inside Surrey bend at Waterloo, which did them a power of good in emerging in the centre of the river before Hungerford and Charing Cross bridges. At Lambeth Bridge Brice and McCarthy were duelling a substantial way ahead of Maynard and Coleman, while Metcalf faded and was dropped at Lambeth Bridge.

McCarthy harassed Brice all the way from there and looked as if he was going to catch him two or three times. But the 299th Doggett’s was Brice’s, in 25 minutes 57 seconds (2.5 minutes off the record) on a slack tide. No other times were taken.

The long deceased actor-manager surely rejoiceth from the wings of the Drury Lane Theatre. Next year sees the 300th anniversary of the oldest continuous sporting event in Britain, and long may it continue thereafter.

Christopher Dodd

Thomas Doggett was an actor and eventual theatre manager who relied heavily on the London watermen to taxi him around in the 17th and 18th centuries.  He founded the race in 1715, originally ‘a rowing wager for the best six young apprentice watermen in their first year of freedom’  and left money in his will for it to be continued.  Nowadays apprentice watermen are permitted to race again in their second and third years, since entry numbers have declined. 


2 Responses to “Brice takes 299th Doggett’s”

  1. Is it possible to reproduce your excellent report on the 2013 Doggett’s Coat and Badge for my on going project on Doggett’s Coat and Badge. I have worked very closely with the Watermen’s and Fishmongers’ Companies, and even produced evidence naming the first winner on the wager in 1715.

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