The Company of
Watermen & Lightermen
of the River Thames

About the Race

The oldest boat race in the world Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager was first raced in 1715 and has now been contested by watermen and lightermen for more than 300 years, potentially making it the oldest continuous race in any sport.

Combining tough competition, heritage and pageantry, the Doggett’s Wager is one of the UK’s most unique events, with winners going on to long careers on the water, and in some cases racing for Great Britain, or ceremonial duties for the Royal Family.

The 2020  race has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic and will now take place on 16 March 2021, to be followed,six months later, by the 2021 race on 8 September.

To find out more about the race, please see this documentary, which was made by Chocolate Films, and was commissioned and produced by the Thames Festival Trust, during the preparation for the 2018 Race.

The Doggett’s Wager is rowed over 4 miles and 7 furlongs (7400 metres) on the course chosen by Sir Thomas Doggett in 1715. Click here to see  a map of the Course.

The race is open to watermen and lightermen in the first year of their freedom, which means competitors face the tough challenge of studying for their licence while training for the race. Competitors may enter a total of three times (or until they win!) Up to six watermen and lightermen can compete, so heats are held ahead of race day if more enter.

The types of boat used for the race have varied over the years: originally four-seater passenger wherries, later “old fashion boats” (racing boats but with wooden ‘wings’ – wooden outriggers covered with planking) and from 1906 to 1955 “best” boats. Since then new boats have been provided: clinker gigs in 1956, and replacements in 1964 (for the 250th race) and 1981. From 2015, race sponsor WinTech Racing has provided new single sculls for all competitors’ use .

The Fishmongers’ Company recorded footage of races during the 1960s and 1970s, which can be watched here, and British Pathé has a selection of films of old Doggett’s Coat and Badge races.

Click on the title link to see each of them:
• 1921             Doggetts Race On The Thames
• 1923             Keeping It In The Family
• 1926             First Rowed In 1715
• 1938             Doggetts Coat And Badge
• 1960             Rowing Race Family Aka Rowing Family
• 1918/19    Spot the Doggetts Man in this Pathe film of the Royal River Pageant, believed to have been filmed around 1918/1919

The Company of Watermen and Lightermen, Watermen's Hall, 16 - 18 St-Mary-at-Hill, London, EC3R 8EF

© 2020 The Company of Watermen and Lightermen