The course is from Gillingham Pier to the Medway Buoy and back. The first start is at 0730 for the Coasting Class, followed by the Restricted Staysail Class then the Bowsprit Class. The Committee Boat will be Song and Dance, a motor yacht operated by Swanning About Charters*, and one of Alan Pratt’s tugs (Christine?) will act as tender. Look out for historic tug Touchstone* and the sailing barge Centaur from the Thames Sailing Barge Trust* which will be competing.
For the best view of the start, enjoy breakfast from 0715 on the balcony of the Spinnaker Restaurant in Gillingham Marina*. Pre-bookings only, £5, on 01634 280022.
Through the industrial revolution and Victorian expansion of London, the sailing barge evolved to be one of the most efficient small cargo carrying vessels of the world. Henry Dodd started the first official barge match in 1863 on the Thames. The Medway soon followed with the inaugral match held in 1880. With up to 20 barges competing, many over 100 years old, it is truly a sight to behold on our famous, industrial river.
According to the Society for Sailing Barge Research, barge racing has taken place in the Medway since at least 1872. In 1949 the Marina Club at Hoo (now known as Hoo Ness Yacht Club*) organised the first of 5 matches for yacht barges, and commercial craft raced again from 1954 until the Centenary Match. The modern series started in 1965.
Read more at www.medwaybargematch.co.uk
* denotes a member of the MSBA