A FLEET of almost 400 rowing boats will be taking over the River Wye this weekend for the annual Monmouth Regatta.
Eight hundred competitors from 32 clubs will be launching out in 297 head-to-head races during the two-day event, which dates back to 1931.
A highlight of the regatta will be Sunday’s headline eights events over the 750m course, with Monmouth School returning from the National Schools’ Regatta at Nottingham on Saturday to contest the Phil Mathew Invitation Cup, named after their former school teacher and regatta commentator.
They open against Llandaff for the right to race holders and alumni club Old Monmothians in the final, where there is bound to be no quarter given.
In the women’s event, the Alec Woods Ladies Plate – named after the club’s late president and benefactor – students from Cardiff University and De Montfort, Leicester, are among the entries.
The Old Monmothians’ (OM) 1969 and 1976 school crews will be returning for a reunion and lunchtime row past on Saturday, including 1980 Olympic medallist Charlie Wiggin and Oxford Boat Race Blue Paul Marsden.
Regatta organisers are also hopeful OM and former Minister of Sport and British Olympic Association chief Colin Moynihan will be able to present prizes, alongside 1990s double world silver medallist Jim Hartland, who is flying in from his Florida home.
Saturday’s 1,500m regatta sees 164 boats competing in 120 races from 9.30am to 5.42pm – a race every four minutes.
Sunday’s 750m sprint has 230 boats launching out in 177 races from 9am to 6pm – a race every three minutes.
Clubs coming to the regatta include Thames outfits Staines, Abingdon, Molesey and City of Oxford, plus Leicester RC and De Montfort from the Midlands, while the three Monmouth schools will all be looking to protect home waters in Sunday’s sprint.
“It’s a good entry and we’re just hoping for some good weather,” said Monmouth Rowing Club spokesman Eric Froggatt. “We pride ourselves on having a well run, friendly regatta, and hope to make a good impression again for competitors and spectators.
“And we’d like to thank all our headline and race event sponsors for making the regatta possible.”