David Dimbleby has revealed the part the River Thames played in his life-long love of boating.

The BBC presenter was speaking at the London Boat Show where he was adding his support to events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Old Gaffers Association, a club of owners of gaff-rigged boats old and new.

Speaking to River Thames News he explained the Thames connection to his father’s famous commentary at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. He said: “He had bought a Dutch barge called Mabel and moored it at Westminster for the duration of the coronation. He lived on it during the event and then afterwards we took it up to Teddington and beyond.

“We sailed it right up the Thames to Henley and other places on the river. It never left the Thames after that. In fact I learned to sail at Windsor and other stretches of the river as we also had a small dinghy.”

The family has another connection with the Thames: a riverside house on Ray Mill Island beside Boulters Lock at Maidenhead. A plaque on the bridge near the lock commemorates former owner Richard Dimbleby's connection.

David Dimbleby has owned his 28 foot, West Country-built gaff-rigged boat, based on a Falmouth workboat, for 35 years and sails it at Dartmouth.

As a member of the association he is supporting anniversary events which include a Round Britain cruise between April and August for which 40 boats have already signed up and many more are expected. It will start at Maldon in Essex and finish at Cowes where the association’s Jubilee Festival is being staged over four days following Cowes Week.

Meanwhile David Dimbleby has recently completed filming a new BBC series in which he sails along the south coast from Helford in Cornwall to Dover in his boat Rocket. He said:“The theme of the programmes is the south coast as a frontier, something which separates us in so many different ways from the Continent. We go ashore at various point to explore the history.

“We did some helicopter filming of the boat in a Force 6 off Plymouth and the pictures are simply terrific.”

Explaining his appearance at the show he said: “I’ve come to explain why sailing in gaff rigged boat is a minority interest compared with some of the vast motor yachts here but actually a pleasure so intense and so exciting that it needs to be promoted.”

Link to the Old Gaffers Association

Link to the 50th anniversary events

Story dated January 15th 2013

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