William Riley


Former Whitby Lifeboat

The Star Of The Great River Race

The following information is replicated from the Whitby Gazette and heralds the success of the William Riley's participation in the race and meeting its objectives of raising funds for the St Catherine's Hospice.

Published Date: 11 October 2010

HISTORIC Whitby lifeboat the William Riley was one of the star attractions as a 10-man crew from Fisherman's Rowing Club proudly competed in it at the Thames Great River Race.

Their efforts have already managed to raise a spectacular £1,000 for local charity St Catherine's Hospice and more generous donations of sponsorship from Whitby residents and businesses continue to flood in.

The crew completed the 21-mile course, from London's Docklands to Ham in Richmond in a respectable three hours, 25 minutes and 12 seconds.

The century-old boat, which played a huge part in the rescue efforts of the wrecked hospital ship Rohilla in 1914, featured in a four-page spread in the Great River Race's official souvenir magazine.

Club captain Barry Brown, who led the crew in the challenge, was pleased with the outcome.

He said: "It all went very well. We had to use a different technique with shorter strokes.

The William Riley attracted a lot of attention as it had to be lifted in to the water by crane and during the racing there were about 30 Dutch crews who were really taken by our boat."

He said there was a lot of wind during this year's race which caused problems at the start for a lot of crews but the William Riley was able to sail through it.

He said: "Everybody did their bit. We knew it was going to be difficult but we all enjoyed it."

The crew were keen to support a charity which impacts on Whitby people, and so this year chose St Catherine's Hospice, with its day hospice in the town.

Mr Brown added: "We had St Catherine's flag flying on the boat and we will be able to let them know at their fund-raising Halloween Ball tomorrow night how much we have raised so far.

"We also have a picture of the William Riley in the boat race to give them, to put up in the hospice."

Ending the race exhausted, the crew were keen to celebrate as they waited on the water for the crane to collect the boat and then enjoyed the parties in marquees and bands playing on the shoreline.

The crew definitely plan to enter the race next year, but do not know which boat they will be taking.

They hope to continue raising plenty of cash, and are thinking about another local charity to support.

Final Session

The following download files detail where each of the craft finished in the race, the Adobe Acrobat reader can be found using the link.

Results Downloads

I have seen video footage of the event and at times it appeared frenetic at best, there where moments were numerous boats struggled to squeeze through the many bridge supports. The type / class and variations of the boats involved was overwhelming. The dragon boats with their crew numbers were slick when compared to the William Riley but they are of course completely different beasts altogether. The conditions of the day were sunny yet breezy throughout and although the William Riley has very definite attributes she was not built for solely for speed.

The race covers 21 miles, quite a distance to be covered in one stint without the benefit of a break. I have some gallery pages in production as the William Riley completed the challenge of the Thames Great River Race in a very respectable 3 hours and 25 minutes.

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