Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Guy Leppard, Molesey Boat Club Chairman, shares his experience being part of the crew of the 'Gloriana' to support a fund-raiser for disabled and disadvantaged children to access cricket
Rumours abounded that Her Majesty’s Rowbarge 'Gloriana' was going to be on the Molesey Stretch of the Thames on the same day that Molesey Regatta was taking place on the 16th July 2022. No more details were forthcoming until a call went out on the day itself and I got my sharp elbows out and joined the crew.
The occasion was a fund-raising event for the Lords Taverners who fund programs that allow children to access cricket. The crew were happy to treat the guests to a quick trip to Sunbury lock and back. Sounds quite straightforward!
Gloriana is 88 feet long, weighs 9 UK tons and is rowed by 18 oars – fixed seat rowing. Luckily, padded seating is part of the setup. There is quite a knack to getting a long stroke – physically, the lower back and shoulders take the strain, and the wooden blades bend in the water.
The water level was low, so the guests had to shift to the front of the boat to allow us to push off. The electric motor got the boat started and then it was oar power all the way. Dave Jilling's was at stroke, on stroke side and Andy Graham on bow side, both MBC Masters Members with a long term association with the club.
While the racing continued at Molesey Regatta, Gloriana was rowed up the back of Thorneycroft Island (Taggs), and from Aquarius Sailing Club we were treated to some wonderful opera. Once the novelty wore off, the workload required to keep the momentum in the boat became apparent. It was challenging work.
A quick spin at the top (ha!) and then 4km home. Rowing down the busy Regatta course was a blast - halfway down the course we tossed oars and celebrated with “Three cheers for Molesey Regatta”. Everyone taking photos and clapping - it was fabulous.
As quickly as we could – patiently waiting for the guests to disembark - we headed back to the Regatta beer tent to re-hydrate. Thanks to Malcolm Knight and the Gloriana crew.
📸 Malcolm Knight