Sunday, 18 November 2018

Regatta cancelled to finish boathouse

THE Goring and Streatley Regatta will not take place this year.

The Goring Gap Boat Club, which organises the event, says it wants to focus its efforts on the construction of its new £275,000 headquarters on the banks of the River Thames.

Contractors have almost assembled the shell of the building off the A329 next to Gatehampton railway bridge, on the other side of the water from Goring.

Next month a team of 30 volunteers will then start work on various projects, such as straightening out the waterfront and installing a slipway, landing stages and moorings as well as clearing the grounds and laying out the car park.

They will fit out the boathouse with boat and blade racks, a kitchen and toilets and an upstairs training area with rowing machines and a classroom.

It’s hoped the club will move from its temporary premises on the Hardwick Estate in Whitchurch by the end of the year.

The regatta will then continue as a biennial fixture in order to avoid clashes with the Goring Gap Festival, which also takes place every other year.

This summer there will still be low-key racing but there will not be the usual fairground, stalls, live music and family entertainment.

Ros Crowder, the club’s co-chairwoman, said: “Work on the clubhouse is progressing well.

“We had a site visit for members last weekend and they were impressed to see it now clearly identifiable as a boathouse. After so many years of raising funds and arranging planning permission, it’s encouraging to watch it taking shape.

“The steel frame is now up and the contractors just need to carry out the necessary landscaping to stop it being visible from the road.

“We already had a huge amount of work to do this year and the regatta requires considerable effort on top of that. It’s not just about setting up, taking down and running it on the day but everything that needs to be done in advance, like training crews and publicising it.

“It’s important that we’re able to work as effectively as possible and aren’t trying to do too much at the same time, although we’re still organising something on a smaller scale for those who come specifically for the rowing.

“Looking forward, doing it every two years seems manageable. The regatta and the festival are both large-scale family events and this will enable us and the community to give each the focus it deserves.”

Once the new building is up and running, the club will launch a new fund-raising campaign to equip its mezzanine floor with changing rooms and a hospitality area. It will be several years before these become a reality.

The regatta was launched in the late 19th century but abandoned at the outbreak of the First World War, then revived by the club in 1992. It was cancelled in 2014 due to flooding at the site.

• The club is to host a screening of the Boat Race at the Catherine Wheel in Station Road, Goring, on March 24 from 4pm. There will be a gentle rowing machine competition in the pub’s barn and games.

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