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The Boat Race Respects the Water with the RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has been announced today as the Official Charity partner of The Boat Race 2019.

RNLI E class lifeboat in the background with crew and four competitors from The Boat Race on the banks of the Thames


RNLI Crew with The Boat Race team members

The partnership will increase awareness of the RNLI’s flagship ‘Respect the Water’ drowning prevention campaign and aims to raise funds to support the Thames’ lifesaving service. All funds raised through the partnership will go towards essential crew training at Chiswick Lifeboat Station. In addition, the RNLI’s Community Safety team will be working with venues along the course to train staff on water safety such as the throwline initiative, which has been rolled out to other riverside pubs and clubs along the Thames to help save lives.

Since 2002, the RNLI’s Chiswick Lifeboat Station has supported The Boat Race with its E-class lifeboat. Working not only to look after The Boat Race crews and those on the water, but also the safety of the thousands of spectators that line the banks of the River Thames on Race day. In 2016, the RNLI bolstered its lifesaving service with the addition of nine Arancia-class lifeboats crewed by lifeguards; these are strategically positioned along the Championship Course to keep the public safe during the incoming tide.

Gareth Morrison, Head of Community Engagement at the RNLI, said, “We are honoured to be The Boat Race’s Official Charity for 2019 and look forward to building on our existing 17-year relationship to keep water users and spectators safe on Race day. It gives us a great platform to reach new audiences with our ‘Respect the Water’ messaging, and to raise awareness of the RNLI on the Thames, whilst also generating vital funds. Working alongside other Search and Rescue services with a range of prevention initiatives in 2017 and 2018 we avoided any water-related incidents and will strive to maintain this record on Race day in 2019.”

David Searle, Executive Director of The Boat Race Company Limited said: “We are looking forward to working with the RNLI as our Official Charity Partner in 2019. The support they’ve offered to The Boat Race over the years has been fantastic and this is now our chance to give something back.”

Teams are already in the thick of training for The Boat Race on Sunday 7th April 2019. The Women’s Boat Race will begin at 2.15pm and The Men’s Boat Race at 3.15pm.

Notes for editors:

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 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people.

As well as saving lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the RNLI also plays a huge part in protecting people’s safety on some of our inland waterways including the River Thames, where it operates four lifeboat stations at Teddington, Chiswick, Waterloo Bridge (Tower Lifeboat Station) and Gravesend.

Tower and Chiswick are the two busiest RNLI stations, responding to around 10% of the calls across all 238 RNLI stations in 2018. Unlike many other stations, Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend operate with a round-the-clock crew who are ready to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call coming in. At each station, the full-time crew work alongside volunteers who come from all different 'day jobs' such as bankers, TV producers, civil servants, students and other emergency services, and give up their time to help save lives on the Thames.

RNLI Media contacts:

David Clarke, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500

Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


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