UPPER THAMES were crowned the overall winners at this year’s Town and Visitors’ Regatta for the
UPPER THAMES were crowned the overall winners at this year’s Town and Visitors’ Regatta for the first time in five years.
The club, which last lifted the Sutherland Cup in 2010, had seven winning crews on Saturday to get their hands on the trophy.
But with 10 races to go the club was neck-and-neck with Wallingford Rowing Club on 15 points.
They edged ahead with wins in the women’s intermediate two coxed fours, the open elite coxless pairs and the open intermediate one eights.
The club captain and director of rowing Justin Sutherland paid tribute to the club’s senior squads, with the women beating a younger crew from Henley Rowing Club in the intermediate two eights.
He said: “We had some ex-world champions in our boat and some people in their fifties beating girls who were probably shy of their late teens.”
The veteran men also beat Wallingford in the open D coxless fours final.
“Without the veterans we would never had won the Victor Ludorum so we have got a lot to be thankful for.
“We had a nice barbecue afterwards to celebrate so it was a good day all round.
“One of the things I was keen to do when I became director of rowing was to make sure I wasn’t just looking after the top boats. I was very keen to make sure everybody felt they were an important part of the club.
“People are taking pride in representing and competing for Upper Thames.
“Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta is an opportunity for people to have a bit more of a casual approach to racing perhaps and it’s not as serious as Henley Royal Regatta so lots of different people get involved from veterans to juniors to men and women. To win something the whole club can be part of is very satisfying.
“Rowing is really the number one focus and more so than the social and recreational side and I think that’s something that definitely has changed and I’m pleased we’re going in that direction at the same time as enjoying ourselves.”
Mr Sutherland said the club had doubled the size of its senior women’s squad and had half a dozen new members in the men’s squad. Sadly, a crew from Upper Thames was disqualified in the final of the open senior coxless fours for their steering.
There were also wins for Henley Rowing Club, Shiplake Vikings and Star and Arrow Club, the development squad at Leander Club. Other local clubs taking part were from Shiplake College and Phyllis Court.
In the novice singles final Henley Rowing Club’s Stan Admiraal beat Reading’s Archie Anslow-Wilson by just three feet. Charlotte Orr, also from Henley Rowing Club, took victory in the women’s junior 15 single sculls final.
Less than an hour later she won the women’s junior double sculls final with her sister Harriet, of Shiplake Vikings.
For the third year running, the regatta was held on a shortened 800m section along the Henley Royal Regatta course and featured events for men, women, mixed crews, juniors and seniors.
There was once again a record number of entries for the event which saw 288 crews battle it out over the course of 150 races in 51 different categories. Racing was held on a three-lane course from Old Blades to Phyllis Court at four minute intervals throughout the day.
The local crews faced opposition from more than 40 clubs from towns and cities from as far afield as Taunton and Newcastle. The USA was represented by entries from Fort Worth Rowing Club and Parati Competitive Rowing Club in Texas.
The Mayor of Henley Lorraine Hillier said: “I thought it was a lovely event, it was really good. The weather held fortunately as well.
“It seems to have grown with the crews that are rowing there. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it and there were people there who brought picnics along and there was a barbecue available as well.
“I think it’s special because it’s a casual event. It’s one that people can just come to us as they are, it’s open to everyone, it’s affordable and it’s just a nice, open event that welcomes the whole town.”