Doggett’s Coat and Badge winners attend boat naming ceremony

Two winners of an historic rowing race visited Lowestoft to launch a new era at the town’s rowing club.

George Saunders and Gary Anness both won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race, which is held annually on the River Thames – and is the oldest rowing race in the world.

Both George and Gary dressed in their coats on April 25 for a special ceremony at Oulton Broad to name Lowestoft Rowing Club’s new recreational rowing boats.

The boats – two recreational coxed quad boats and a single sculling boat – were bought with the aid of a grant from the sport’s governing body, the Amateur Rowing Association, supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and Sport England.

The quads have been named Kipper and Bloater and the sculling boat Waveney Waterman.

Gary, who is a tug captain on the Thames, couldn’t resist a trip on the calm waters of Oulton Broad – and took Waveney Waterman for a short outing dressed in his waterman’s coat.

"The setting here at Oulton Broad is perfect and the water is fantastic for rowing," said Gary. "The sport is definitely on the up and the success of British crews at the Olympics has raised its profile. Hopefully, more people will take it up in Lowestoft. You never know, but the next Olympic rowing champions could come from this area," he added.

There is a strong link between the club, the Watermen of the Thames and the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race. Two members of the club – Leonard Saunders and his sister, Kate – both competed in the race during the 1990s although did not win. Their father Len, also a club member, holds the prestigious ceremonial post of Queen’s Waterman, which dates back to times when the Sovereign used a Royal Barge to travel on the Thames. And the club’s fleet boasts two boats which have been used in the race. 

George – who is a veteran world rowing champion – and Gary also named the club’s coxed four Nicholas Everitt. The four was bought several years ago, assisted by a £1000 grant from Waveney District Council.

Club President, Geoff Stevens, said afterwards: "This was an important day in the club’s history. For the first time, we have a fleet of recreational boats, which are far more stable than our racing boats. They are ideal for training beginners and for people who simply enjoy rowing but don’t want to compete.

Lowestoft Rowing Club will be holding a ‘Try Rowing’ open day at its Oulton Broad boathouse on Sunday, 17th May between 10am and 4pm.

For further information please visit the Lowestoft Rowing Club website

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