Monday, August 24, 2009

Latest Skirmish in the Punt Wars

The Guardian notes the latest casualty--two boats sawn in half--in the war among punting companies here in Cambridge. Here's an excerpt.

Sam Matthews of The Punting Company was angry. "It's provocative," he said. "It's somebody hoping to start a war to get rid of us. It's the competition, but which competition? I have my suspicions, but the best thing is not to retaliate."

Matthews is the latest victim of what locals call the "punt wars", a series of disputes between rival operators in the £2.5m punt industry in Cambridge. The battles have reached new heights after two of Matthews's boats were found sawn through from top to bottom.

The nighttime attack is the most audacious in the spate of clashes that have disrupted the tranquillity of the Cam and prompted calls for a cap on the number of boats competing for custom from the four million people who visit the city each year. Observers say punting is now in danger of becoming a tawdry industry that will lower the city's reputation.

The panoply of weapons used in the punting wars is said to include stink bombs thrown from bridges to render a rival's boat inoperable, washing up liquid squirted to make it too slippery for the punter to stand, and bolt-cutters to snap mooring chains. But never, until now, an electric jig saw.

And here's an look an upcoming documentary on the punt wars:


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