Chiswick Lifeboat Aids Oxford Rowers

Women's team were caught in choppy waters yesterday

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(Oxford rowers take refuge on the Chiswick lifeboat, above)

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RNLI Chiswick Lifeboat


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Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat crew came to the rescue of the Oxford University Women's rowers yesterday morning (Wednesday April 1).

While preparing for next week's Boat Race, the team's craft had become unstuck by the choppy conditions.

Passing through Putney on a routine exercise yesterday, the crew of the Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat noticed some unusual manoeuvrings on the water beyond Fulham railway bridge.

A few moments later, they noticed that an eight-strong boat had been swamped and the coaches were in the process of removing athletes to a nearby barge. Strong wind against the tide had made the water choppy, and the craft was quickly overrun with water.

The Oxford crew and their cox were boarded onto the Chiswick lifeboat and returned to Putney. Fortunately the coaches were able to recover the sunken craft, which was safely returned to Oxford's base.

RNLI helmsman Ian Owen commented: "While we have rescued quite a number of rowers over the years, this is the first time I've been involved in helping such a prestigious team. The weather can be unpredictable on the Thames, and the Oxford University team dealt with the situation as safely and calmly as possible. We wish them all the best for their upcoming race."

(The eights boat was later recovered by the team's coaches)

Chiswick Lifeboat will be busy throughout the Boat Race day; on several occasions in the past, they have had to pick up over-enthusiastic supporters from the river. This year, the crew will also be overseeing the RNLI's Alternative Boat Race on the day before, 10 April.

250 sponsored model Lifeboats will be completing the final stages of the Boat Race course. The winning sponsor will be able to name a new lifeboat. There are still a few boats available to sponsor. For more information go to

The Alternative Boat Race can be viewed from the towpath in Mortlake from 5.30 pm. It will also be broadcast online at the RNLI's website, link above.

April 2, 2015