Upper School Choice - chess

KAS Boats Take On The Thames

19th September 23

On a very sunny Saturday in September, two of the KAS boats and a group of intrepid staff and students made their way to Canary Wharf to take part in the epic Great River Race.

The boats were designed and built here at KAS as sailing boats, but with a sturdy set of oars (and the masts removed) they are eligible to take part in this marathon on water and have done for many years. Despite there being over 300 other fixed seat boats taking part, the only real competition that mattered was the one between the student and staff boat.

Boats waiting to launch at the start of The Great River Race

The first boat into the water at the start line was the student boat with four Year 11 students on board: Luke, Ale, Azrael and Jonny. They were ably assisted by Design Technology and Forest School teacher, Chris and ex KAS Parent and sailing stalwart, Ed. They were soon joined by the staff boat as they waited in the sunshine to set off and when the tide finally turned, it was time to start rowing.

The student boat ready to row
The staff boat crew
The view from the start

The students took off quickly and were ahead from early on and by the time the race reached central London, they’d taken an unassailable lead which they held all the way to the finish line in Ham. After 22 miles, 28 bridges and a lot of sunny rowing, the students were victorious beating the staff by over 12 minutes.

We spoke to student Ale about the experience:

“I think part of being at KAS is being spontaneous and I love the joy that can come from doing unexpected things – I certainly didn’t expect to be taking part in the Great River Race. When Chris approached me and said ‘do you want to row down the Thames for four hours on a Saturday?’ I was in, I said ‘yes’ immediately because, why not?

“I had only vaguely heard of the race before and I knew about the boats but had never been on them so I was intrigued to see what it was like. On the day, we were a person short so one member of the team only found out they were taking part when we turned up at his house and told him he needed to come with us – sorry Azrael!

“At the start it was really hectic, there were boats everywhere and we needed to launch quickly so when we put our boat in the water none of the teachers were on our boat and we had no idea what we were doing. We worked it out, Chris and Ed did get in the boat before the start, and we found our rhythm even though none of us had rowed before.

The student boat takes the lead (and keeps it!)
The boats head towards London after passing under Tower Bridge
Rowing past the London Eye

“It a lovely day and really fun seeing the whole of London from the river, it was like a private tour. I’d recommend it.

“Was it hard? Honestly I knew that in the moment it would be hard but that when I looked back on it I wouldn’t remember the hard parts, I’d only remember the good parts of it.”

The winning team!

Huge thanks to Math teacher, Hannah and Head of Explorations, Julian for doing all the race admin and keeping us motivated. Thanks to Head of Art, Will for driving the mini-bus. Thanks to Ed who is a massive support on all boat-related activites despite his children having left KAS years ago and to Chris for rounding up and cheerleading the student team.

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