Port of London Challenge taking place on river Thames tonight

 
Catherine Neilan
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The Port of London Challenge is one of many Thames-based contests throughout the year (Source: Getty)
If you're near the Thames this evening keep one eye on the river: tonight the annual Port of London Challenge will be taking place.
Certainly no Boat Race, the Port of London Challenge is one of the more obscure river contests, set up in 1996 by then-speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd as a curtain-raiser for the Doggett's Coat and Badge Race, which took place on the same day.
Now, however, the Doggett's Coat and Badge Race will take place on 1 August, giving the smaller competition more time in the limelight.
The challenge starts at 7pm, across 4.4 miles from HQS Wellington on the Victoria Embankment, passing Waterloo, Westminster and Vauxhall until the rowers reach Chelsea Harbour.
The cutters are crewed by six rowers and a cox. In keeping with tradition, a passenger must be carried with them8.
Only five cutters – which measure 34 feet by 4 “6 - contested the inaugural event in 1996 for a solid silver trophy donated by the Port of London Authority, which was won by the Watermen’s Company rowers in the ‘Jim Holt’.
Now it's more popular and more recent events have had staggered starts, setting off in waves to compete against the clock.

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