Tiller & Wheel, owners of the historic Thames sailing barge Edith May and Whitstable oyster smack Thistle, have announced the dates for 2021's Thames Barge Matches, always a highlight of the summer for sailors, spectactors and photographers alike. 

A Thames Barge Match is like no other.  Steeped in rich tradition, the historic barge matches of the East Coast have been running for over 150 years, with the barges pushed just as competitively today as they were in the days of commercial barges.

Photographic opportunities will abound as the barges sail within feet of one another and for those keen sailors who wish to take part in the handling of the gear, the race crew will be happy to provide some instruction.

There are 8 Thames Barge Matches in total, as follows (nearest town in brackets):

3rd July - Pin Mill (Ipswich)

17th July - Blackwater (Maldon, Essex)

31st July - Swale (Faversham)

14th August - Thames (Gravesend, Kent)

28th August - Medway (Gillingham)

11th September - Colne (Brightlingsea)

There are also two Barge Matches for which the dates have yet to be finalised; Whitstable Harbour Day and the Passage Match (River Medway to River Orwell, Ipswich). 

Points are awarded at each barge match, with the best performing barge declared Champion at the end of the season. 

Tiller & Wheel offer you the chance to experience a barge match from aboard one of their historic Thames barges.  Before booking, please read the General Information page.  They also advise that you contact them for further details before booking, as each barge match has its own characteristics – there may be early starts, dinghy trips, overnight stays and prizegiving suppers involved.

Full details of the day will be emailed once each match Committee has released the full race information.

Source: Tiller & Wheel website

Read more about Tiller & Wheel, one of our Shipshape Network South East projects.

Edith May and Marjorie
Photo: Sailing barges Edith May and Marjorie, by Jason Arthur

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