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Six rowers in the river after two capsizes in 24 hours

Lifeboats News Release

s Chiswick Lifeboat crew and 18 lifeguard volunteers prepare for their safety work for the University Boat Race on Sunday, once again rowers were caught out by the tidal Thames.

Rowers helped on board the lifeboat after capsize


Rowers helped on board the lifeboat after capsize

At 19.42 on Thursday evening 4 April 2019 Chiswick lifeboat launched to a report of rowers in the water in Barn Elms Reach. When they arrived the crew found that 5 rowers had managed to reach the foreshore after their quad had capsized but were a long way from their base. The rowers and their cox had all been in the water, they were getting cold in the rapidly cooling evening, but were unhurt. They were all taken on board the lifeboat, given blankets and taken back to their boathouse in Putney where they could warm up. The lifeboat then recovered their vessel and returned it to Putney.

RNLI helmsman Gavin Simmons said ‘There was a suggestion that the rowers could row back themselves if we could help refloat their boat, but once we knew they had all been in the water we knew it was essential to get them back to their boathouse to warm up as quickly as possible.’

The second incident was on Friday afternoon. A single sculler had capsized by Chiswick Bridge. There was a strong spring tide running and he capsized soon after launching. He managed to get to the bank, dialled 999 on his mobile and spoke to London Coastguard who immediately requested Chiswick lifeboat to launch. The crew arrived a few minutes later, provided assistance and recovered the boat.

RNLI helmsman Lewis Arnold commented ‘We always advise anyone going on the water to have a means of calling for help. By calling the coastguard on 999 straightaway the rower ensured that we arrived in the shortest possible time’

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since The RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,590 incidents and rescued over 1,750 people, and dozens of dogs. The RNLI is entirely funded by public donations.

RNLI media contacts

  • David Clarke RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 210500
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825,
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Chiswick lifeboat crew assist capsized sculler

RNLI/David Clarke

Chiswick lifeboat crew assist capsized sculler

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland