Medway Barge Match

The annual Medway Barge Match traditionally runs from Gillingham Pier to Medway Bell Buoy and return, a course distance of 29 miles.

Along with the Thames, the Medway Barge Match is one of the most historic races in the world.

Officially, the Medway Barge Match was established in 1880 and has been held almost every year since, only temporarily being halted for the World Wars. There have now been over 110 matches on the River Medway, although a recently unearthed cup from the 1850’s suggests that it may be even older than first thought.

2023 Match Details

Saturday 27th May

Start – Gillingham Pier

Return: Ca. 3pm

Evening Prizegiving Venue: TBC

Of the 8 matches in total throughout the season, the Medway Match is always the season opener. Barges will travel up the coast from Essex and Suffolk to compete, with local barges ‘Edith May’, ‘Marjorie’ and ‘Niagara’ representing their home river.

The start and finish line is off Gillingham Pier (where Medway Queen is moored), which undoubtedly enjoys the best view of the match, along with The Strand, Gillingham and Minster Beach, Isle of Sheppey. The barges take between 5 and 10 hours to get around the course, depending on conditions. Regular updates and photos will be posted on Tiller and Wheel’s facebook page

Medway Barge Sailing Match Course Map
Medway Barge Sailing Match – Course Gillingham Pier to Medway Buoy and return

For more information, match day programmes are available from a variety of outlets prior to the match, including Sun Pier House in Chatham and Gillingham Marina.

If you would like to join a barge for the race, please sign up to the ‘Mate’ or ‘Skipper’ tier on Patreon and then book via the online shop, or contact us for more information.

If the race is shown as sold out on our booking tool, please do contact us as we may be able to source places on other competing barges.