Rowing Q+A with Andrew Triggs Hodge01.07.2019
Regatta London - a unique chance to race through central London
Paddle sports deserve to be played out on the world’s biggest and best stages, and Andrew Triggs Hodge is giving them exactly that: offering the chance for more than 100 crews to race through the central London section of the iconic River Thames in a brand-new and entirely unique event, Regatta London. We spoke to the three-time Olympic gold medallist about the 29 September event.
Hi Andrew - tell us about Regatta London.
Regatta London is the first event of its kind - The biggest opportunity there is to participate in, spectate and enjoy rowing, kayak/canoeing and stand up paddle boarding via the 14-mile London Crossing course. I’m proud to say that these great paddle sports will have their day in central London, finally joining the world famous running and cycling events we love.
It will be the UK’s first ever mass-participation paddle sports event, as well as the first paddle sport event that is partnering with charities to raising thousands for them.
With all due respect to the other wonderful paddle sport events out there – and I have done a few - this location, really does beat the lot!
When and where does it take place?
The inaugural Regatta London takes place on Sunday 29 September, on the River Thames. The rowing crews will race along the 14-mile London Crossing route, from Hammersmith to Greenwich.
You mention ‘paddle sports’ – tell us more about the other sports taking part?
Paddle sports share the same water all over the country. We have our differences: some are backwards, others face forward, but we all share a love for being on water. Regatta London is a fantastic opportunity to bring together all the communities in rowing, kayak/canoeing and stand up paddle boarding in one event in the most standout location in the world. Together we can achieve something truly remarkable.
Regatta London will be a celebration of all things water sports, a high-profile central London event to inspire people from across the country to take part in the sports we love. It’s time for paddle sport to find a platform that isn’t the elite of the Olympics, something everyone can see themselves doing.
How will these different paddle sports use the river at the same time?
As these ‘human powered’ vessels travel at different speeds, we will release each type onto the water at a different time, fastest first. Initially this means they will be led out by more than 100 rowing eights, followed by kayaks/canoes and then stand up paddle boards. The kayak/canoes and stand up paddle boards will also be able to race on our Big Ben Challenge route; from Putney to Big Ben and back (12 miles).
Additionally, we will be working with a timing partner so that everyone taking part will have a timing chip to wear, so that they can be tracked throughout the race and get an accurate finishing time at the end.
It will be quite a sight to see with everybody on the water right in the heart of London! We will of course ensure that all the different vessels can compete at their different speeds and complete the course safely.
How is it possible to hold the event in the Thames in central London, with the tides, other boats etc?
We are holding the event on the only day of the year that the Thames Barrier is closed by the Environment Agency, which completely removes the tide. Making the Thames more of a lake than a tidal river. There is also a river closure during the event, which means the only power boats on the water during the event will be our safety boats. This creates a new field of play for one day only, a totally unique experience that cannot be had without joining us and the thousands of paddlers at Regatta London.
Wow, sounds amazing! What type of rowing crews can take part?
The event is open to rowing eights – given the restrictions on boat numbers rowing through central London, particularly in this first year, we have selected the biggest and best boats to kick things off. Between men, women and mixed boats and crews from 16+ to Vets we’re keen to see a diverse field of racers and participants represented.
How much does it cost to enter?
It costs £62 per person, £558 per crew, Sorry coxes, it’s time you paid for your ride! For a central London event of this nature, with this level of ambition, we’re actually cheaper than comparably-sized events. This has been a big challenge, but we’re really pleased to be able to bring paddle sport in on low end.
You say it’s cheap, but most entry fees for rowing regattas are at least half that price per person - how do you justify that entry price?
To be honest, I would not compare Regatta London with standard rowing events. A fairer comparison would be with other major central London challenge events – and compared with events such as Ride London, Triathlons, and others, these prices are very good value.
People taking part will get an amazing experience they won’t get anywhere else – a chance to row on the Thames through central London with thousands of others past the capital’s most iconic landmarks and finishing in front of crowds at the historic Old Royal Naval College. All vessels will be chip-timed, and all crew members will receive a bespoke medal – and we have got a very cool medal planned!
Sounds fun, but will the event be run like a proper rowing regatta?
Yes. Well sort off! We’re taking the best bits, and ditching the rest. This event is as much for people who want to win, as for people who just want to row and enjoy this incredible stretch of water. For the racers it’ll be a side-by-side 14mile head race, starting at Hammersmith, racing through town, under all the bridges through central London, past all the incredible sights of the most iconic river in the world – all this will be our field of play for the morning.
There is no other event like it! But this is only a small part of the dream, my personal mission is to produce an event that isn’t just for racers, but for people who want to be part of something incredible and just live and enjoy our sport on the biggest stage. Imagine the big running events in London, there are the elite sections, but the best bits are the thousands of fundraisers, in fancy dress, young (16+ in year 1) and old, making a huge difference.
These people will bring rowing to life, they can demonstrate that rowing isn’t constrained to the elite but that it’s full of people who enjoy and love the sport; that it is accessible, and inclusive.
You said the event is also raising money for charity. Are there charity places available?
Absolutely! Crews can take places held by Regatta London’s charity partners, and in doing so can raise money for some fantastic causes.
The event’s headline charity partners are: youth charity; London Youth Rowing, which helps disadvantaged young people to get active through rowing. Environmental charity Thames21, which works with communities to protect London’s waterways. And mental health charity Mates in Mind, which supports workers to ‘start the conversation’ and support each other’s wellbeing.
This all sounds amazing. How can crews sign up or find out more?
Thank you, An event like this has been a personal desire of mine for a long time, and I believe an important step for a sport like rowing, just what Ride London did for Cycling. And thank you to anyone who is entered or is considering entering. Buying into something new is daunting, but I can personally assure everyone that this experience is going to be worth it! We’re working with the best in Limelight Sports, and others to ensure this event lives up to expectation!
To find out more about the event’s aims and vision, and to register for an open entry or charity place, please go to www.regatta.london