At any other sale the circumstances could have proved disastrous, but when the boat tent in the stewards’ enclosure in Henley-on-Thames flooded during The Henley Sale at Bonhams on July 21, things went swimmingly.

1801NE03B.jpg
During Bonhams’ Henley sale, head of paintings Jeremy Waite (left) and technician Adrian Pipiros (right) happily exhibited this 16ft (5m) long Canadian cedar canoe by rowing it up and down the aisles before it sold at £1100.

The 788-lot sale of everything from rowing medals to runabouts is held annually on the banks of the Thames, but this year the tents were inundated with water following torrential rain. Undeterred, during the viewing Bonhams staff donned galoshes and moved all the lots to the 'shower room', a raised area used by rowers during the Henley Royal Regatta.

With 80 per cent of the marquee underwater and waves lapping at the rostrum, buyers proved they were true water-babies by turning out in force and spending £480,000, the highest-ever total in the 21-year history of the Henley sale.