On Sunday 3 June, over 1,000 vessels participated in a flotilla on the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne. It was one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with rowed boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes.
The Thames Pageant was watched by millions of people all over the world and Leaside was proud to have a boat in the flotilla, paddled by 2 of our racing members, Alan Goode and Luke O’Bryan.
Here Luke O’Bryan tells us what it was like to take part in this prestigious occasion:
“It was a 6am start on a wet and overcast day. We fuelled ourselves with egg, bacon and beans before arriving at Shadwell Basin Activity Centre for 8am. After changing into 2 thermals, a cage a life vest and a Leaside racing top we were ready to go.
All canoeists had to be on the water for 8.30am so we could paddle down to our pageant meeting point before they closed off the Thames.
The trip down was a lot more fun than we expected as our guide for the journey decided to start chasing boats and catching the waves, once we saw this there was no stopping us!
We got to paddle behind some police rigs, tug boats and the best one of all – a Sky News reporting boat. They saw us having so much fun they filmed us and then asked if we were capable of holding 4 knots… Alan and I both agreed this was a manageable speed (little did they know that we are sprinters and this is our recovery speed) but all in the name of getting ourselves and Leaside on the TV!
We docked at Cremorne where we were to wait it out for 3 hours. We managed to fill this time by drying out all our wet clothing on the only piece of warmth in the room - a hand dryer.
Time soon passed and we were told to make our way onto the water, the crowds were building and so was the excitement. We could hear the cheering coming from afar, like a Mexican wave. The queen slowly passed us doing her 4 knots and it was nearly time for all kayakers to be slotted into the pageant. We saw our space and in true sprinting style went for it!!!
It soon became clear that the formation they had instructed us to keep went out the window and as soon as we saw one kayak take off we did too! Paddling our way through the pageant we passed all the waving spectators, including celebrities Ben Fogle and Bill Oddie (at least it looked like him) then finally, the Queen.
With approximately 2 kilometres to go we moved over to the north side of the river dodging all the other crafts for our exit back at Shadwell. Once we exited and there was no one around who was going to tell us to slow down, we made a sprint for it!
Overall it was a fantastic day despite the weather and if the Queen is around to celebrate another Jubilee we would definitely like to do it again!