Monday, 20 September 2021

Friendship, fun and fund-raising as regatta returns

THOUSANDS of people attended this year’s Goring and Streatley Regatta.

THOUSANDS of people attended this year’s Goring and Streatley Regatta.

Around 200 rowers, including more than 40 novices, took part in the racing on the Thames last Saturday.

The event, organised by Goring Gap Boat Club, was held on a stretch of the river at Streatley Farm near Cleeve Lock.

There were races for men and women as well as juniors and children. They included coxed fours, single sculls, paddling punts, dinghies and canoes.

Janet Chilton, a regular attendee from Goring, arrived with friends and family by punt.

She said: “It’s a lovely day for the community. We’ve been here most years since it started again. The fact everyone can participate in the regatta is great. It’s not an elitist event and complete beginners can have a go.”

Her husband John said: “We rowed with the friends we came with years ago. We won one year and Sir Steve Redgrave presented the trophies.”

The trophies were due to be presented by Olympic rower Zac Purchase, who lives in Wallingford.

However, Zac had to withdraw at the last minute, owing to other commitments, and the presentations were made by the boat club’s chairman, Hugh Baker-Smith.

There were other attractions on the bank including a dog agility show, ferret racing, a bouncy castle and a climbing tower.

Music promoter Goring Unplugged set up a stage and hosted acoustic performances by local artists.

The boat club displayed trophies collected since the 19th century, when the regatta was a major event in the rowing calendar.

Proceeds from this year’s event, which are yet to be counted, will go towards the boat club’s plans for a new £350,000 boathouse. The regatta was taking place for the first time since 2011 as last year’s races were called off due to rain and flooding.

Captain Geoff Arnold said: “As ever this event gets organised by what is quite a small club.

“It’s amazing how a small number of people can pull this off year in and out.

“It’s become quite a major local event, like a cross between a village fete and a rowing event - it’s unique.” The club held two Learn to Row courses in the build-up to the regatta, in which it trained beginners over four weeks to reach a standard where they could compete.

Mr Arnold, of Pangbourne, said: “The aim is for them to become competent rowers who can participate within club sessions and develop at their own pace in technique and fitness.”

The regatta was first held in 1888 but stopped when the First World War broke out. It was revived in 1992.

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