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Putting our backs into a great rowing race

Safety Boats at the Great River Race 2006More than 20 Port of London Authority staff will take to the water this weekend to ensure the Capital's river marathon passes safely.

PLA craft will support around 40 safety boats on the 22-mile Great River Race course between Richmond and Greenwich.

The Authority's boats will lay moorings, pontoons and race markers at the finishing line and then remain on stand-by to help rowers who may get into difficulty. One vessel will be deployed in the City at positions where rowers traditionally experience difficulties.

Two PLA marine services cutters will also be stationed at the end of the course to collect race boats and tow them back to Richmond. And all port authority craft will be ready to move in at dusk to help stragglers reach the shore before darkness or changing tides catch them out.

Patrol boats will be in close proximity to the rowers throughout the race, with the race's own safety organisers based aboard the PLA vessel Westbourne. Westbourne's crew will also liaise with the coastguard, lifeboats and police should it become necessary.

In addition to working vessels, the PLA's Gog, Magog and Penelope will be among an estimated 300 competing boats.

Click here for more information about the Great River Race.