The Doggett’s Race is held each summer on the Thames, between London Bridge and Cadogan Pier (Chelsea) – the sites of the Old Swan Tavern and the Swan Inn Chelsea. Up to six young watermen will row under 11 bridges on the 4 mile 7 furlong (7,400 metre) course.
Throughout its 300 year history the race has remained relatively unchanged. However until 1873, competitors rowed against the tide using four-seater passenger wherries and there are stories of the race taking over two hours to complete. Since then the race has been rowed with the tide and the passenger wherries have been replaced by modern sculling boats.
The time now taken to complete the course is between 25 to 30 minutes and in 1973 Bobby Prentice, now Bargemaster to the Fishmongers’ Company and Upper Warden of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, set the fastest recorded time of 23 minute 22 seconds.