STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club’s annual fun regatta takes place this weekend (Saturday, July 8).
Some 24 crews, with just three hours of training, will compete in a number of side by side races in the Club’s learn-to-row stable boats, often in fancy dress.
Racing will start at 9am with the victors to be crowned at 4.30pm, other water traffic permitting, with Stratford’s Mayor Coun Kate Rolfe to be in attendance and present prizes.
Fun regatta organiser, Chris Belcher, said: “We’d like to encourage everybody to come down to the Boat Club or the river to support the crews.
“It is great to watch as there’s lots of splashing, some crazy outfits and plenty of competitive banter.”
Stratford Boat Club’s chairman, Dawson Curnock, added: “It is a fabulous fun day for all the family and it also helps the Club raise vital funds to buy boats and equipment for future, current and adaptive athletes.
“We’re very grateful for the support of all our hard working members who run the regatta and the tea tent.
“We’re especially grateful to our river neighbours for their tolerance during this event and for sponsors such as the Crowne Plaza Stratford who have helped us organise this event.”
The fun regatta, originally called the Pubs and Clubs Regatta, began on the Sunday following the main June regatta, however, as the event grew in size, and popularity, it became a standalone event in July.
Entry requirements are simple, a crew of four people (with a basic swimming ability) with each team given three one-hour training sessions ahead of race day with one the Boat Club’s volunteer coaches.
On the day of the fun regatta, each crew will have a cox and compete in a minimum of three side-by-side races with the fastest crews qualifying for the semi-finals and the finals.
Fancy dress has become a major part of the day, with separate prizes for the best dressed and named crews.
Over the years, crews have featured Ghostbusters (complete with backpack zappers), totally blue Smurfs, Abba, Wizard of Oz (named Follow The Yellow Brick Rowed), Top Gun and rock group Kiss.
This year crews include The Big Duck Rowers, all from Stratford’s BDR telecoms company, Oarsome 4Some, Wilmcote Swans, Pier Pressure, Three Men and a Little Lady, Row Hard or Row Home, The Meander Club, Row Hard or Swim Home, who work at Stratford’s Robert Lunn and Louth Solicitors.
Cheeky Chicks, Usain Boat, Sofa So Good, sponsored by Home of the Sofa, Stratford, Percy Paddlers, Stratfordian Adventurers and Pioneers Society (SAPS), Oar Right Now, Never Mind The Rollocks from Long Marston, To Be Oar Not To Be, Early Doors, Cheerful Charlies, Anchor Management from Tiddington.
Slava Ukrainia (Glory to Ukraine), our very welcome patriotic Ukrainians who also have a love of the water, Strong Swimmers, Netballing Novices from Stratford Ladies Netball Team, The Lean Green Machine, all from Stratford’s Warwick Events and also BDR Buccaneers, a second crew from Stratford’s BDR telecoms company.
Crews use stable Learn to Row boats, part funded by a grant by the Town Trust, which are useful all year round for those taking part in the Boat Club’s courses and help beginners gain confidence and skills as they take up and progress within the sport.
Stratford Boat Club’s president, Paul Stanton, said: “We’re more than ready to go with the fun regatta, we know that the fun regatta is going to be a great day.
“There is excellent viewing from the Rec, RSC terrace, Bancroft Gardens and especially from the club grounds where there will be a tea tent, food wagon and Sip ‘n’ Swig’s famous bar. All are very welcome.”
And whilst club members are preparing for the fun regatta, the club’s junior squad are busy putting in their final training for the prestigious British Rowing’s Junior Championships at The National Watersport Centre at Nottingham later in month.
Junior co-ordinator, Steve Wellstead, said: “For some more senior junior athletes, this will be one of their last regatta’s as a junior, we wish them luck at the National Championship and in their future as senior rowers.”