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   The Society for Sailing Barge Research

 Barge Matches

Organised Barge Sailing Matches have existed since at least 1863.  Mr.  Henry Dodd, a London contractor who made his fortune out of the collection and disposal of rubbish and was known as the "Golden Dustman" conceived the idea of a sailing match for Thames Barges. He hoped that this would induce owners to improve the design of their barges and act as a morale booster to the participating crews. Matches continue to this day albeit not with working vessels although many of the competing vessels are more than 80 years old.

The matches are organised by local committees under the coordination of the Sailing Barge Association and points are awarded for each race to determine the champion Barge for the year.






START FROM S.B.May under full sail in the 1983 Blackwater match
MEDWAY Saturday 19th May  Gillingham Pier
PASSAGE Saturday/Sunday 16h/17th June  Gravesend
PIN MILL Saturday 23rd June  Buttermans Bay (Opposite Pin Mill)
BLACKWATER Saturday 7th July  Osea Island
SWALE Saturday 4h august  Sand End buoy
WHITSTABLE Saturday 11h August  Whitstable Harbour
THAMES Saturday 21st July Gravesend
SOUTHEND Sunday 26th August Southend Pier (Pier Admission prices apply)
COLNE Saturday 1st  September  Batemans Tower, Brightlingsea


NOTE! Start times and courses may vary dependent on tide times and weather conditions. Check SBA website (link below) prior to match.

For more information on Barge Sailing Matches contact: http://www.sailingbargeassociation.co.uk/matches



Contact: Hon Sec. Fred Smith, 22 Churchill Road, Canterbury, CT1 3EB

Tel: 01227 455 328

Course: Gillingham Pier to the Medway Buoy or other outer mark with the finish off Gillingham Pier.
Viewing Points:

View start and finish line off Gillingham Strand, Pier Approach Road, or the footpath around St Mary's Island, Chatham.The race also passes close to Garrison Point, Sheerness on Sheppey.

History: Barge racing has taken place in the Medway since at least 1872. In 1949 the Marina Club at Hoo organised the first of 5 matches for yacht barges, and commercial craft raced again from 1954 until the Centenary Match. The modern series started in 1965.


Contact: Hon.Sec.Mrs Pat Boss,"Crosstrees", The Downs, Maldon, Essex, CM9 5HR. Email: boss@crosstrees.fsbusiness.co.uk  
Course: Start off Stansgate at around 8.00, the course runs out towards the Wallet Spitway Buoy to finish off Osea Island, with the fleet returning to Maldon around 4.00pm for the prize giving.
Viewing Points: View from the start off Stansgate (Near Marconi S.C.) or follow the race at Stone or Bradwell.
History: The BSBMA was founded in 1962. For membership contact Peter Carter on 01621 859382


Organisers: TBA
Contact: TBA
Course: The fleet assembles for the start at midday off the Clarendon Hotel lawn, Gravesend, to finish off the Orwell No 1 Buoy 
Viewing Points: Gravesend, Southend and Walton Piers & Dovercourt.
History: In 1978 Blue Circle industries inaugurated the Blue Circle Challenge Match for a passage between Gravesend and the Orwell.
 Information: See: www.pmsc.org.uk/barges

Contact John Potter on 01732 353448 for details of the cruise to follow part of this and the Thames Match.


Organisers: The Pin Mill Sailing Club
Contact: Hon. Sec. Julian Ackland, 12 Wendy Close, Chelmondiston, Suffolk, IP9 1JB. Tel 01473-780424. 

See: www.pmsc.org.uk/barges

Course: Start off Buttermans Bay 11.15 and finish off the The Pin Mill Sailing Clubhouse. Courses include the options to sail out to the Medusa Buoy, Wallet No 2, and Gunfleet with the possibility of a leg into the Stour.
Viewing Points: Shotley Point, Harwich breakwater.
History: In 1962 the Pin Mill Sailing Club organised a new series starting and finishing at their clubhouse.
Officer of the Day Cyril Varley
 Information: See: www.pmsc.org.uk/barges


Organisers: The Thames Sailingbarge Match
Contact: Brian Pain, Hon Sec. The Oyster Bay House, Chambers Wharf, Faversham, Kent ME13 7BT. Email:  brian.pain@yahoo.co.uk
Course: Start in Lower Hope (time TBA) Out towards N.Oaze Buoy and return to Mission House, Gravesend.
History: Founded by Henry Dodd, the "Golden Dustman" and first raced in 1863. The Thames race is the original match and the Bowsprit Class winner is the "Champion of the Thames".

See www.thamesmatch.co.uk 



Contact: Harbour Master, Mike Gambrill, Whitstable Harbour, Whitstable Kent CT5 1AB. Tel: 01227 274086
Tide time: H.W. Margate 11.02 GMT
Course: Start 10.00 a.m. Off Whitstable Harbour


Organisers: The Kentish Sail Association

Match Secretary. Lena Reekie, 4 The Quays, Belvedere Road, Faversham, Kent.  ME13 7LP Tel: 01795 530309 . Mobile 07968 058398

Email: lenareekie@talktalk.net 

Course: Start 7.00 from start line off Sand End Buoy in the east Swale, the course is out to marks in the estuary and return to finish off Faversham Creek.
Viewing Points: From the sea wall near the bird sanctuary at Harty Ferry Hard or on Sheppey opposite. Shell Ness on Sheppey, at Seasalter (Sportsman P.H.) or from Tankerton Slopes near Herne Bay.
 Information: www.ethel-alice.com 


Contact: Hon. Sec. Linda McKay. Email: t lmckay@metronet.co.uk
Course: Start and finish off Southend Pier. Course dependant on tide
Viewing Points: Southend Pier ????
History: Originally part of Southend's Regatta. The match was revived in 1964 as part of   the Golden Jubilee Celebrations.The match is supported by Southend Corporation.
 Information: sbm@thamesbarge.org.uk



The Secretary, Brian Webb, 12, Gorse Lane, Clacton on Sea, Essex. CO15 4RN. Tel: 01255 431907.

Email: bd.webb@sky.com.

Course: Start 8.00 (Smacks) 08.30 (Barges) From Batemans Tower, Brightlingsea to Colne Point With a mark off Clacton Pier
Viewing Points: Batemans Tower, Brightlingsea or East Mersea Stone
History: The Colne smack Race was revived in 1971 with barges taking part the following year.


Updated 31/12/2017