The Great River Race is London’s River Marathon and Henley Dragons were delighted to be part of it again this year last weekend. A spectacular boat race up the River Thames, which this year attracted entries from 314 boats from all over the globe. The race itself appeals to every level of competitor, from dedicated athletes who like winning to those who enjoy laughter, fancy dress and charity stunts. Henley Dragons were there to compete and beat last year’s time of 2:22:57. The sun was shining, and the river looked calm and inviting as the boats were loaded into Millwall Slipway ready to paddle/row through London and all the landmarks out to west London finishing in Ham Fields near Richmond. A total of 22.2 miles. Henley Dragons were numbered 314, the last boat to be released onto the course.
From the very beginning it was a battle for James Blake the helm to keep Henley Dragons in clean water, in the flow and out of harm’s way. James read the river brilliantly as the boat sailed in on the tide doing at times 16km an hour. Henley Dragons weaved in and out of the other boats and different bridge arches along the course, narrowly missing a minor crash of old traditional rowing boats which had become entwined. Amelia Cooke the drummer for the event kept the minds of the paddlers in check, kept them focused and drove them on stroke by stroke. It was a superb effort by Henley, achieving the award for the third fastest boat, coming 48th out of 314 boats and were the first dragon boat across the line out of 10! Beating the second placed dragon boat by 9 minutes! Henley most importantly beat their previous time by 2:18:37. Henley Dragons now look forward to competing in their end of season National event in Nottingham on the weekend of 21/22 September.