Royal Docks Adventures center is a dedicated water sports facility most famous for its 2,000m rowing course with seven racing lanes and towpath access to the full course. There’s also a large boathouse, rowing tank, gymnasium, and restaurant.
Based in East London’s, Royal Albert Dock, Royal Docks Adventures has activities for all ages and abilities taking place at Royal Albert Dock, Royal Victoria Dock and King George Dock. Activities include rowing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, bell boating and raft building, with regular free new taster sessions as well as training courses.
The centre also hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year. The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in June, the Greenwich Docklands International Festival, the London SUP Open where a series of elite stand-up paddleboard races took place on the River Thames and Royal Docks, the Royal Wharf Summer Fete celebrating the establishment of a vibrant community and the Royal Docks beach open from July to September.
Over winter V22 Silvertown Studios offers the V22’s Young London exhibition which includes Young London Friday Lates, a series of weekly events taking place after-hours. The Royal Docks also acts as a splendid backdrop for the annual fireworks display at Silvertown Quays.
Increasing exercise through water sports can include everything from jet skiing and kite surfing to kayaking and parasailing. One of the easiest water sports for beginners of any age is canoeing, which offers the same feelings of mental and emotional well-being that being in and around water naturally provides.
Canoeing can be calm steady paced touring on calm waters, or you can choose competitive canoe sprint racing or perhaps the challenge of white-water racing. Whether sea kayaking to enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery or playing about on the river, canoeing is an adventure to be enjoyed by all, in a variety of forms.
Canoeing as a family is a fun activity to share, and you can choose the level of challenge that suits. There are also many competitive disciplines for those who want the excitement and challenge of being tested on the water.
On offer at Royal Albert Dock is a paddle sports taster session open to every age and ability. There are full instruction and supervision by fully trained staff at all times. All necessary equipment is provided. All users need is energy and some suitable clothes to wear under a wetsuit which is provided free of charge.
For adults, there is the chance to complete a formal one-day course to get started in kayaking and canoeing from the national governing body, the BCU, at the end of which a 1Star award can be received. The course covers launching, paddling forwards and backward, safe capsizing and a variety of useful paddle strokes.
The difference between canoeing and kayaking is the sitting position. In a canoe, the paddler either kneels on the bottom of the boat or sits on a raised seat on an open deck with a single blade paddle. A kayak has a closed deck, and the paddle is double-bladed.
Dragon Boat racing involves teams of up to twenty paddlers in a 40-foot boat with a drummer and helm, paddling frantically to beat the other teams down the course. A crew’s strength, stamina, timing and teamwork are crucial in this fiercely competitive sport. Dragon boat racing is recognized as one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
Dragon Boat Racing has been part of Chinese culture for more than 2000 years, initially used to worship the dragon, considered the ruler of the world’s waters and the skies, in order to avert misfortune and encourage the rains needed for prosperity.
Several Dragon Boat clubs operate out of Royal Docks Adventure:
Formed in 2008 as a charity crew, Windy Pandas train at the London Regatta Centre, East London. The team ethos is based on having fun, team spirit and friendship.
Raging dragons are a team with members of all ages and ethnic who: Listen with your ears. Paddle with your heart. Fight fatigue to emerge champions. Rage as one! A competitive team, some of its members have gone on to represent Great Britain in European and World Championships, bringing home some gold medals in the process.
Thames Dragons were established in 1993 and include competitive, mixed, ladies and open crews. Based in East London, they paddle from the London Regatta Centre at Royal Albert Dock. Paddlers of all levels are welcome, whether to increase your social circle or to represent your country.
Typhoon Dragon Boats
Founded in 2003, Typhoon is one of the leading Dragon Boat clubs in the UK, training, and racing throughout the year. In 2017 the club finished second in the Premier division of the British Dragon Boat Association league and held joint first place in the ladies league.
Rowing taster sessions at Royal Albert Dock are designed to introduce all those aged 11-years, and over to rowing, so you can choose to join a club later. The following rowing clubs are based at Royal Docks Adventure:
Curlew Rowing Club
Founded in 1866, Curlew’s clubhouse and gym are based in Greenwich, but it now rows out of the 2km racing docks at London Regatta Centre. The racing calendar supports both local and national regattas, with regular travel abroad for training camps.
Globe Rowing Club
An open-access public rowing club based in Greenwich, with junior and senior rowing programmes. Globe Rowing club trains at the London Regatta Centre in the Royal Docklands, rowing in both sweep and sculling boats.
London Otters Rowing Club
London Otters Rowing Club is London's LGBTQI-friendly rowing club welcomes all abilities. As well as weekly training sessions at the docks, the club takes part in regattas and races around the south-east of the country and also organizes social events for members.
Lea Rowing Club
For more than 150 years, Lea has been providing locals of all ages access to a sport which teaches the value of sustained effort in pursuit of a distant goal and particularly of teamwork.
Poplar Rowing Club
Poplar Rowing club rows on both the tidal waters of the River Thames and the 2km multi-lane Royal Albert Dock course. Poplar also rows on the Thames opposite Greenwich, on the Greenwich Reach between the Thames Barrier and Wapping.
London Cornish Gig Club
The first and only gig club to be based on the Thames is a relatively new, friendly club rowing based at Richmond Bridge (West London) and the Royal Albert Docks (East London). The club owns two wooden Cornish Pilot Gigs, with plans to expand and add new gigs throughout the years.
Sailing has been used as a means of transport for thousands of years, but more recently has become popular as a leisure activity to be enjoyed with family, friends, or solo. Open to all ages, sailing is a very adaptable sport, catering for a wide range of impairments, making it an incredibly inclusive sport.
At the Royal Victoria Dock, you can take a formal 2-day Learn to Sail course of instruction over a weekend. By the end of the course, you will have a basic understanding of boat handling techniques and will be able to sail a small boat under instruction. Successful participants will receive the RYA Level 1 course completion certificate.
You can also undertake the RYA level 2 course here, which includes plenty of time on the water with experienced instructors.
Taster days for children will see them out on the water trying out four different water sports including sailing. The staff is patient with the children, very knowledgeable and parents can feel completely at ease when the children are on the water. The children were taught the basics, and then the instructors played some fun games whilst still on the water. You can then book in for the Summer Holiday activity week.
The Sea Cadets operate sailing and related activities for young people from Royal Docks Adventure. Sea Cadets is a charity founded more than 150 years ago, which aims to help equip teenagers with all the things they need to cope with and enjoy the big and changing world in which they live. Young people learn new ways of thinking and acting from the kind of adventures they have at Sea Cadets. Like power-boating, learning how to save a life, sailing a tall ship, catering for a crew, even meteorology, and engineering.