The Company of
Watermen & Lightermen
of the River Thames

The Competitors

George Gilbert

In our final interview with this year’s competitors, George tells us about training during an unprecedented year, and how excited he is the race is nearly here. The 2020 wager will be raced on 25 June, and we are hoping to stream it for those who cannot watch in person. More details will follow!

George, when did you first start to row, and why?
I did the odd day here and there when I was younger, about 16 or seventeen, but not much. I got back into it for the 2019 race.

What made you want to enter the Wager?
I didn’t get much training in for the 2019 race – I think I underestimated rowing, and I took a break after. But I’m working up at Hammersmith at the moment and seeing all the rowers out, I really wanted to have another go. So at the end of 2020 I decided to do the race again.

How are you feeling about the 2020 race?
I’m excited. When I first started training for this one I was focused on doing well, but now I want to win.

How has training been?
It was tough at first – training in winter is always cold and hard, but it was really difficult to get out on the water with the pandemic restrictions. Now they are lifted it is getting better and better and I’m really enjoying it. I’m thinking of starting racing with my club after Doggett’s.

The year has been quite changeable, with the restrictions, how has that affected your preparations?
It’s definitely made it tougher, and I’ve had to find ways to train on my own when we couldn’t go out from the club. And there’s been less time on the water. But I’ve been able to do so much in the last few months, with great support from my coach, Gary, Ennis and others. I’m really looking forward to the race now.

Quick fire questions:
What is your favourite stretch of river?
Saunders Ness at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs because I see it each time I train.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
Teleportation so I can get to places quicker.

What’s top of your bucket list?
Travel the world.

Coran Cherry

In the third of our interviews with the Doggett’s 2020 Competitors, Coran talks about his experience getting ready for the race. The 2020 race, delayed twice as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, is currently scheduled for 25 June 2021 (but this date is dependent on government lockdown regulations allowing the race to take place).

Coran, when did you first start to row, and why?
I started properly at the beginning of 2020, because I wanted to take part in the Wager. It’s been fun, but trickier than I thought – I’ve fallen in a fair few times.

What made you want to enter the Wager?

I’ve always been interested in it, but I was too old. Now they have raised the age limit, I can do it. It’s a big tradition, and just to compete is a big honour. I’ll be the first in my family.

How are you feeling about the 2020 race?
A bit mixed: I’m excited that it is finally taking place, after it got postponed, but we’ve not had a lot of time to train. My coach Maurice Coughlan is keen to get cracking again though.

The race had to be postponed a second time – do you think this will make it harder or easier to compete?
For me personally its been little bit of a result. I’ve been able to utilise the time to really work on my technique and get the small things right; putting me mentally in a much stronger place.

How has training been? Since the race was delayed, did you train over Easter?
I’m training around five to six days a week. Fortunately, now its back on the water. I’ve been driving my neighbours crazy on the erg at all random times of the day. It has become a little harder now trying to fit it around work but I’m making it work. I was out rowing on Easter Sunday morning at the docks but i did allow myself a cheeky Easter egg when i got home.

Quick fire questions:
What is your favourite stretch of river?
The Blackwall reach – I go down to the blue bridge and back. It’s lovely and smooth and straight.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
Eat anything I could without putting on weight.

What’s top of your bucket list?
Would love to go to Maldives and stay in one of the overwater huts.

Max Carter-Miller

In the second of our Q&As with this year’s Doggett’s competitors, first-time entrant Max Carter Miller tells us why he wants to win the Coat and Badge. This year the wager has been postponed for only the second time in its 300 year history, and it will be raced on 16 March 2021. We now have four competitors confirmed, so it should be an exciting race!

Max, why did you first start to row?
My grandad took me down to poplar when I first apprenticed – he’s rowed the wager too, so it’s in my family. Originally I wanted to play cricket, so I actually went back to college, but when I came back I took up rowing again, and now I can’t get enough of it.

This is your first time competing the wager – what made you want to enter?
As I said, my grandad has competed too, so that was a massive factor. And I work for Thames Marine Services, who have four or five previous winners: my Captain is Harry McCarthy, and by bosses are the Dwans (who have all won) and they are really encouraging. In fact they told me not to come back to work unless I win…they are joking I think! My club (Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club) is really supportive too, which helps. But at the end of the day I want to win it for me too – you’ve got to, to do all the training. Once I’ve started something I want to finish it, and for this race, you’ve got to want to smash it.

How are you feeling about the wager in March?
I’m ready for it – my coach, Dan Bartlett, has helped and pushed me to get me where I am today. I’m really excited.

What’s training like now we’re getting into winter?
I like winter training, so I don’t mind. I go out most days around work, and I really enjoy it. We’ve had to adapt training this year – we were all ready to go, and now it’s delayed. I still have time on the water, but I’ve added in cycling to and from work, and obviously the gym sessions.

And finally, some quick fire, fun questions:
What’s your favourite stretch of river?
My home stretch around my club – you can’t beat being knee deep in mud on a Saturday morning.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
Invisibility, so no-one would see me coming?

What’s top of your bucket list?
That’s a hard question, because there is loads I would like to do. I think top is becoming a captain.

James Berry

James, who came second in last year’s race is interviewed below.

How long have you been rowing, and what made you start?
I’ve been rowing since 2018, and I started because I wanted to compete in the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager.

You raced in last year’s wager – how was it?
The conditions were awful, which made it a really tough race. I had to just stay focused, and keep pushing. I wasn’t worried that I wasn’t ahead from the start – I knew I had a strong second half of the race, and there were a couple of points where I really felt I could have overtaken Patrick. In the end I came second – I’m proud of that race, but I will do better this time.

How are you feeling about the 2020 year’s wager?
I’m really excited – I want to win! I’m obviously gutted it has had to be postponed, but it’s great to have a date set for next March.

How tough has it been to train this year?
It has been hard – especially trying to keep motivated when we couldn’t get out on the water. I bought a rowing machine so I could keep training, but I’m really pleased to be back in a boat now, and have coaching allowed again.

How do you balance training with work and everything else?
It’s tough, but my priority right now is rowing. I want to win the Wager for myself, and to create a legacy for my family. And you only get a few chances.

And to finish – a few quick fire, fun questions:
What’s your favourite stretch of the river?
The championship course.

In you could have one superpower, what would it be?

What’s top of your bucket list?
I’d like to stay in a glass igloo in Norway and see the northern lights.