Harry McCarthy wins 300th Doggett’s Coat and Badge

The Duke of Edinburgh attended the 300th Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race yesterday – 60 years after he first followed it way back in 1951 – watching Harry McCarthy scull home comfortably ahead of the five-strong field. In so doing, the 22-year-old waterman emulated his father, who won in 1984, and his uncle who won in 1992.

After finishing second in last year’s race, victory was particularly sweet for McCarthy whose 2014 time was 24 minutes, 35 seconds. Louis Pettipher came second with Charlie Maynard third, Ben Folkard fourth and Dominic Coughlin fifth.

Recalling last year’s race McCarthy said, “I had a couple of months off, went on holiday with Charlie (Maynard), one of my best mates, and when we came back we started training six days a week, twice a day. I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve.”

The sculler from Poplar, Blackwall and District RC added, “I wanted to keep it in the family. My Dad has done the Lord Mayor’s Show and things like that and it’s been my dream to walk alongside him. He’s helped me through everything this year – I couldn’t have done it without him.”

But while ‘Doggett’s’ is famous enough to attract royal visitors, few may realise that it is a 300-year-old single sculling race, run continuously since 1715. 

Open only to those under the age of 26 who, in the previous three years, have completed the long apprenticeship to qualify them to carry goods and people on the River Thames. If that were not enough of a barrier to entry, the course itself runs from London Bridge to Chelsea – 7,400 metres of unsettled and unsuitable water containing washes, bends, bridges and currents. 

Reflecting on this year’s Doggett’s Coat and Badge, umpire Bobby Prentice said, “It was one of those races where you want everyone to win. The lads did us all proud.

“The one that stood out to me was Louis Pettipher – he rowed such a good race. Charlie was always there, in with a great chance, and Harry did the business. Ben pulled up on the north shore – if he had come over he would have been a lot closer. And, as always, Dominic gave value for money. Great competitors all.”

Find out more about Doggett’s Coat and Badge at www.doggettsrace.org.uk.

Thanks to Tim Koch for reporting and photography