OLYMPIC gold medallist Matt Gotrel will be guest of honour at Sunday’s Stratford Boat Club Fun Regatta.
Now in its 15th year, the Fun Regatta attracts competitors from local companies, towns and villages and groups of friends.
About 25 crews, with just three hours’ training, compete in a number of ‘side by side’ races in the club’s ‘learn to row’ boats, often in wacky fancy dress.
Organiser Dawson Curnock said: “We’d like to encourage people to come down to the boat club or river to support the crews. It is great to watch, there’s lots of splashing, some crazy outfits and plenty of competitive banter.
“In addition, we have a barbecue, bar and tea tent running all day.”
He added: “It is a fabulous fun day for the family and it also helps the club raise vital funds to buy boats for future athletes like Matt. We’re very grateful to the support of our local NFU branch Wheaton, Lamb and Burrows for sponsoring the event both this year and last.”
Gotrel, an MBE, won gold at Rio 2016 in the British men’s eight. He had hoped to compete at the club’s Fun Regatta, with his sponsor Robert Welch Designs, but has had to withdraw from rowing due to shoulder surgery.
Robert Welch Designs, a local family-run company designing and manufacturing cutlery, kitchen knives and tableware from their base in Chipping Campden, are entering two crews this year.
Gotrel will be at the Fun Regatta all day and will be presenting the winning crews with their medals. Racing starts at 10am and the victors will hopefully be crowned by 5.30pm, other water traffic permitting.
The Fun Regatta, originally called the Pubs and Clubs Regatta, started on the Sunday following the main regatta. As the event grew in size and popularity, it was moved to July as a standalone event.
Entry requirements are simple. A crew of four people (with a basic swimming ability). Each team or crew are given three one-hour training sessions ahead of the race day with one the boat club’s volunteer coaches.
On the day of the regatta, each crew are given a cox and compete in a minimum of three side-by-side races. The fastest crews qualify for the semi-finals and finals.
Fancy dress has become quite a major part of the day, with separate prizes for the best dressed and named crews. Over the years, Ghostbusters, Smurfs, Abba, Wizard of Oz characters and pirates are among those to have graced the water.