Sunday, 01 August 2021

Shower can’t dampen enthusiasm as regatta begins

A SPOT of rain didn’t dampen the mood as the 164th Henley Royal Regatta got under way on Wednesday.

A SPOT of rain didn’t dampen the mood as the 164th Henley Royal Regatta got under way on Wednesday.

Thousands of visitors in eye- catching blazers and colourful dresses lined the banks of the Thames to watch 80 races on the first day.

A morning shower meant umbrellas came out temporarily but the rain soon passed.

Regatta chairman Mike Sweeney said: “Rowers and their supporters are well used to a little bit of English weather. We prefer it not to rain on us but otherwise it was a good racing day.”

Peter McConnell, chairman of Regatta Radio and a veteran at the event, said it was one of the busiest opening days he could remember.

He said: “I walked all the way down to Remenham Club and it was as busy as it sometimes gets on a Friday morning. It’s great to see so many people around.”

Mr McConnell, a member of Upper Thames Rowing Club, said he was also impressed by the standard of racing, which largely involved less experienced crews.

He tipped the eight from his club’s A squad to get to the final of the Thames Cup.

Mr McConnell was celebrating an award for Regatta Radio for improving the popularity of rowing. The award, from the British Association of Rowing Journalists, was presented at the River and Rowing Museum on Tuesday evening.

Mr McConnell said: “Regatta Radio is proving to be as popular as ever and we’re pretty chuffed with the award.

“We were completely and utterly taken by surprise and didn’t even know we were nominated for it.”

The weather was set to improve today (Friday) and the Met Office was forecasting plenty of sunshine and temperatures of up to 26C over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Mark Hunter announced his retirement at the regatta on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Leander Club athlete said it was the “perfect time and place”.

Hunter won a silver medal at the London Olympics in the lightweight men’s double sculls with Zac Purchase to go with his gold medal won in Beijing in 2008.

He said: “It’s tough to officially end my rowing career but I know I’ve gone as far as I can and now it’s time to hang up my oars and look at new adventures.

“I really want to thank friends, coaches and sponsors who helped me capture my dream, but especially my family.”

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