The Gemini Boat Race 2024 is delighted to welcome a flotilla of traditional and historically significant boats and vessels on The Championship Course on 30 March 2024. ‘The Festival of Rowing 2024’ will take place in advance of The Boat Race and see fix seat boats of many sizes and types with some crews in traditional dress cover the course in both directions.

The Festival of Rowing helps remind us that rowing on The Thames in London was once purely a professional skill, with thousands of watermen and lightermen who had boat licenses. These men would ferry people across and up and down the river.

In time, watermen would compete against each other and as crowds gathered to watch the racing, bets would be made. It wasn’t until 1800’s when rowing began to be taken seriously as a leisure activity for gentlemen with the first Men’s Boat Race taking place in Henley in 1829 and the second in London in 1826.

The flotilla will start just upstream of Chiswick Bridge at 1015hrs and make its way downstream to the start of The Boat Race at Putney. After a short break it will reform and at 1130hrs leave Putney and make its way up The Championship Course.

Oxbridge Challenge Trophies

Following the flotilla the City Livery Company Watermen’s cutters will compete for the Oxbridge Challenge Trophies in an event organised by The Thames Traditional Rowing Association.

The races, which have been taking place since 2009, will be over The Boat Race course with prizes awarded in three Divisions, for Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Crews.


The Festival of Rowing is also a great showcase for many of the different kinds of rowing that exist and are still enjoyed today and we would like to extend our thanks to Thames Alive, The Thames Traditional Rowing Association, The Gloriana Trust, The Jubilant Trust and for all the crews and coxes involved in the Festival of Rowing 2024.