The Passing of the Old Guard
14th September 2019
The Cygnet Boat Buying Programme, dreamed up by then captain Richard du Parcq in 1979, has been the club's salvation, furnishing us with a fleet of modern equipment that few would have envisioned forty years ago.
In time, all boats work their way down the pecking order before being pensioned-off to the great boathouse in the sky - or that at least is how it used to be. With the advent of carbon-fibre and 'plastic' boats, the shelf life of racing craft is much longer than it used to be. Thus, whereas wooden boats were often regarded as little better than firewood after ten or fifteen years, today's craft are made of much sterner stuff and can look forward to a useful life of twenty years or more.
The custom at Cygnet has been to name IVs and VIIIs after 'deserving' club members with small boats being allocated quirkier names such as 'Hamhaugh Island'. In keeping with that tradition, the committee was unanimous in naming the latest addition to our fleet, a new Janousek Vlll, the 'Noel Davison' in memory of our erstwhile 'squad co-ordinator' and more recent Independent Examiner, who passed away last year.
Such was Noel's standing in the Cygnet firmament that three boats - Mike Arnold-Gilliatt, Paul Rawkins and Ronnie Lambe - have been sold-off to make way for his namesake. This trio have seen sterling service stretching over more than twenty years. Moreover, it is a measure of the loving care that Cygnet takes of its boats that the sale/part exchange of these craft has raised a total of £8,000, roughly one third of the cost of the new Vlll.
All three of these boats have had their moments. The 'Paul Rawkins' main claim to fame was carrying a Cygnet Wyfold lV through three rounds at Henley Royal Regatta in 1997. Messrs Rawkins P, Nick Wylie, Steve Reeves and Rhodri Walters gave it a valedictory dispatch last month.
Mike AG was unusual in having two boats named after him, in recognition of a lifetime of service embracing virtually every position on the committee, culminating in eighteen years as club chairman. The Ronnie Lambe, IV+, had gone about a quarter of the distance of its mentor who is now ninety something. Ronnie, who joined Cygnet in 1947, will be best remembered as an unrelenting club secretary and tireless advocate and official of Borne and Putney Town Regattas.
We expect to take delivery of the 'Noel Davison' in early October. The date of a boat naming and launching ceremony to be advised.