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River record attempt by Britain's leading rowers


14 October 1997

A gruelling attempt to row over 185 miles along the entire length of the Thames in the fastest time ever is to be made by a world class team from Imperial College, aiming to smash an existing 38.43 hour record by several hours.

Setting off at around 5 am on 20 October the Imperial crew will row throughout the day and night along a precisely organised route from the source of the Thames at Lechlade, Gloucestershire to Southend Pier in Essex. Difficult bends, tides, darkness and 44 locks are just some of the obstacles to be faced by the four-strong crew who hold nine Henley medals between them.

"There will be plenty of pain and suffering as the rowers will have to keep the same position for more than 30 hours. The mental and physical suffering will probably break in at around eight hours," said Bill Mason, Imperial's Boathouse manager.

Imperial College Boat Club is consistently one of Britain's top five rowing clubs, designated a centre of excellence by the Amateur Rowing Association. All four Imperial rowers hold several national and international medals and are members of the Queen's Tower Boat Club, the graduate arm of the Imperial College Boat Club (ICBC).

At least 20 people will form three back up teams with several cars, a bus, mobile 'phones and a safety launch which will be on the water at all times. St John's Ambulance medics, a masseur and physiotherapist will also be continually present for en route treatment. "The crew will do nothing but scull. All their thinking will be done for them by support teams," said Bill.

Funds raised will go towards the Imperial Boathouse Appeal, a £1.6 million project to enlarge and develop the existing Boathouse on the historic Putney Embankment which is supported by Steve Redgrave, CBE and four times Olympic gold medallist.

For further information and photographs please contact

Tony Reynolds, captain of Queen's Tower Boat Club on 0181 878 0869
Bill Mason, Boat Club Manager on 0181 788 3563 or 0410 338862
Imperial College Press Office on 0171 594 6702, email j.lilley@imperial.ac.uk

Notes to editors

  • The event sponsor is Satelcom UK Ltd.
  • The 41 foot boat being used in the Guiness Book of Records attempt was built by Aylings and has been used throughout the season by the Steve Redgrave four.
  • The original record was set by five members of the Lower Thames Rowing Club, Gravesend, who completed the journey in 38 hours, 43 minutes, 20 seconds on 8 - 9 May, 1993. The fastest time from Folly Bridge, Oxford, to Westminster Bridge, London (180 km 112 miles) is 14 hours, 25 minutes 15 seconds by an eight from Kingston Rowing Club on 1 February 1986. The fastest time by a single scull from the Roundhouse, Lechlade to Gravesend Pier (283.2 km 176 miles) is 60 hours 23 minutes by Peter Goodchild of Vesta Rowing Club from 15 to 17 December, 1996.
  • Motors to bail out the boat will be installed to minimise the risk of sinking when the boat reaches open water. The same devices have been used in the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. Each crew member will change kit around 10 times throughout the row and will carry carbohydrate fluids in the boat. Food will be passed to them when possible at locks. Not all of the locks are easy to reach by road; on some occasions back up teams will have to run across land with torches at night to get to the crew. Boat navigation at night will be aided by Halogen lighting, of the sort used by professional racing cyclists.

The crew

  • Jason Botterill, 24, works at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London. He lives in Sheen, Loen, London and comes from Camberley, Surrey. Two Henley medals: Temple Cup, 1994, and Thames Cup in 1995. Member of Great Britain under 23 international team.
  • Tom Gale, 22, full-time athlete. He currently lives in Putney, London and comes from Hexham, Northumberland. Winner Thames Cup Henley 1995. Great Britain under 23 team 1995-97. Three times national champion: 1993,1996-97.
  • Martin Kettle, 25, sales and warehouse manager of a wine wholesaler in Battersea, London. He lives in Wandsworth, London and comes from Stoke-on-Trent. Commonwealth bronze medal, 1994. Sculler's Head winner, 1997. Amateur Championship for Thames, 1997. Wingfields, 1997. Winner of the Temple in 1992, Visitor's 1994 and Grand 1996 at Henley Regatta.
  • Guy Pooley, 32, chemistry teacher and housemaster at Eton College. He lives in Eton, Berkshire, and comes from Soulbury, Bedfordshire, near Leighton Buzzard. Winner of Visitor's Challenge Cup, 1985, 1987 and Queen Mother Cup at Henley Regatta in 1993. Member of under 23 Great Britain team 1986 and 1987; World Student Games, 1987 and 1989; and Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996. Member of Cambridge Blue Boat, 1988 - 91. Winner of the Sculler's Head, and Wingfield sculls in 1992.
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