Max Sinclair drew my attention to a short clip of the IWA's national Stourbridge Rally in 1962.
It's part of the amazing British Pathe News film archive, available to browse online.
Max says nostalgically:
I am an archive relic now. Jocelyn and I nearly polished Vesta's tiller away. A happy but wet Stourbridge memory.
The caption says:
Various shots of canal boats being cleaned, chrome being polished and ironwork being painted. Boats are decorated with fake flowers and bunting.
The highly decorated boats mooch up and down the river [sic]. Local mayors are taken for a trip. Narrator mentions the Inland Waterways Association and their bid to keep the canals open.
... Game is played where men in two rowing boats try to knock each other into the water - a jousting match.
The 'jousting match' is played in swimming trunks, and without lifejackets. They seem awfully underdressed by modern standards, and I daresay if such a performance was allowed at all now, they'd have to wear helmets, life jackets and googles, and have their stomachs pumped afterwards. The death rate in those days must have been worse than the Burma Railway.
Once you've seen that, you might like to explore 'related records' in this trove of old newsreels.
I also enjoyed the 2 minutes of the 1961 National Aylesbury Rally, which also features someone I took at first to be Max himself on the vintage inspection launch Lady Hatherton - ushering a donkey inside! Max reminisces:
No, that was the magnificent David Hutchings... They lived a chaotic life on board Lady Hatherton. He was a great help to me in starting the Droitwich restoration.
(Today Lady Hatherton sits serenely in a covered dock at Penkridge on the Staffs & Worcs Canal. A more improbable donkey stable you'll never see.)
My, that last clip gave me pause. In fact they all do. They really make me wonder how tight-bottomed and intolerant we are nowadays about boating, and how much freer it all seemed then.
Thank you, Max!