34 ft 9 in
Racing punts require calm water - a rarity on the Thames now because of the numbers of pleasure launches - and also a very good balance. Punt racing is still practised at seven clubs on the Thames. (1993 at Wraysbury).
For those endowed with a tightrope walkers sense of balance and a duck like affinity for water when their nerve fails, punt racing must have been the perfect sport.
Restricted very much to the middle reaches of the Thames, there has been a rapid decline in punt racing since 1963, for the increase in pleasure craft has destroyed the calm water so essential for practising; punt racing is definitely not a rough water sport.
This particular punt is of the "Best and Best" variety - so called because competitors were allowed to choose the punt which they felt suited them "best" in weight, length and balance. As the punts were then raced in pairs on a knockout basis, the racing became known as "Best and (versus) Best". "Best and Best" racing only just survives but larger twenty four inch wide punts are still raced on the Thames, mainly at Henley and Windsor, and for those who prefer the more leisurely pursuits, the thirty-six inch wide punts are still to be found in large numbers.
This particular punt was given to us by the Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club and is of the "Best and Best" variety.
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