One of the oldest sporting events in the world, Doggett’s Coat and Badge, has been a mainstay of the Thames Calendar for over 300 years. Conducted under a rolling river closure, scullers battle along a 7.4km course that snakes through arguably the best riverscape in the UK, beginning in the shadows of London’s financial district, and ending 11 bridges later at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea.
WinTech Racing have been a key supporter of the race since 2015, providing a WinTech International single scull for the competitors to train and race in. 2021 has seen two editions of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge staged, after 2020’s disrupted calendar meant pushing that race back. Whilst James Berry won in June, September saw four oarsmen entered: Coran Cherry, Lucas Brittan, Max Carter-Miller and George Gilbert.
Under a beating sun, in 26-degree heat, the four scullers lined up to take on the grueling course in front of a flotilla of media, officials, delegates and fervent support. It was clear in the opening 20 strokes that Max Carter-Miller, pre-race favourite and competitor in June, was going to take some stopping – he’d already established several lengths worth of lead by Cannon Street Bridge and had further extended this passing underneath Southwark Bridge.
Behind him, the contest for minor positions was more tightly contested as George Gilbert and Coran Cherry started to make their claims for podium finishes. As the cityscape fell away to be replaced by the long curving sprawl of Victoria Embankment, Carter-Miller continued to scull with superior poise and power, extolling the virtues of a long, calm stroke in perennially testing conditions.
For supporters, the spectacle of the racing is matched by the incredible scenery laid on by England’s capital city. Ticking off race landmarks is like flicking through the pages of a tourist guide to London, as the scullers made their way along the South Bank, passing the London Eye and closing on the Houses of Parliament. By this stage, the umpire – Bobby Prentice, winner in 1973 in a record time – had passed Lucas Brittan and the positional element of the race looked sewn up. Carter-Miller had established an insurmountable lead, followed by George Gilbert who had, in turn, opened up a dominant margin over Coran Cherry.
As the canyon-like metropolis of Vauxhall loomed into view, the scullers were now battling brutal conditions as well as the race itself. Instead of ushering in the first swells of winter, September in London had brought with it searing heat, shorts, sandals (sometimes with socks) and a sense of summer passing overhead. The scullers admirably battled on but the race for some time had been decided – it was to be Carter-Miller’s day in the sunshine.
The final few landmarks of distinction passed without incident and the ranking remained unchanged – the final jaunt up to Cadogan Pier (the official finish line) was something of a formality for the leading pair, though a battle did emerge between Cherry and Brittan for third place. The former eventually came out on top; perhaps not surprising given Brittan only recently stepped back into the boat after a three-year hiatus.
The 307th edition of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge finished much like how it had started – with one sculler in clear ascendancy. On the podium, Carter-Miller made clear his ambition to continue in the sport with a target of racing at the much-acclaimed Henley Royal Regatta within four years. He will be presented with the traditional Coat and Badge in a special dinner at Fishmongers Hall later in November but left the pier with more than just ceremonial attire to hand. Soaked in champagne and the perspiration of his own campaign to win, his is a name to watch in the rowing community as our sport welcomes another winner to its ranks.
WinTech Racing are delighted to play a part in the staging of this unique event and look forward to another trip down the Thames in 2022.
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