Saturday, 13 August 2022


IN opening the annual meeting on Thursday, March 15, the outgoing president Dr Noel Snell commented that it was a about 30 years since he had last sat in the council chamber chairing a meeting as mayor!

It is all change with a new chairman, Martin Levy, and a challenging year ahead as many of the committee will be away on duty at the European rowing championships in Glasgow, which are to be held at the same time as this year’s regatta.

There are also changes to the British Rowing points ranking system and the full impact this will have on the format of the races and events offered remains to be seen.

Guin Batten was elected president of the regatta.

In proposing her, Dr Snell said there was an unwritten tradition that the presidency alternated between town-connected and rowing-connected candidates.

Guin, an Olympic silver medallist, is a well-known member of the local community and the rowing community.

She is a steward of Henley Royal Regatta, runs the women’s Head of the River race and holds many other rowing-related administrative positions.

Ian Mills, the honorary general secretary, reported a near-record entry of 282 crews at last year’s regatta with local and visiting clubs competing in 148 races over more than 10 hours.

The fair weather in the morning attracted good crowds, many of whom stayed to enjoy some fine racing in worsening afternoon conditions.

With races taking place at four-minute intervals from 8.45am to 6.55pm, those attending saw a full day’s racing.

The Peter Sutherland Challenge Cup for the most successful club at the regatta was closely contested by three local clubs.

Upper Thames RC won the day on 12 points, with Henley RC second on nine and Star & Arrow Club on eight, all three clubs winning four events apiece.

The closest race of the day was the final of intermediate coxless fours in which Wallingford RC beat Maidenhead RC by just 1ft.

Mr Mills thanked the regatta’s many supporters, including the stewards and secretary of Henley Royal Regatta for the use of their land and particularly their co-operation in 2017.

Thanks were also given to Henley Town Council, Henley Rowing Club and Dr and Mrs Walter Scott.

Honorary treasurer Peter Knowles reported that, as in 2016 and 2017, the world of rowing was still going through significant changes, particularly with the competition review and the structure of racing at a domestic level.

There is perhaps now more clarity on this and the current objective is for the new competition structure to go live on April 1.

Many regattas go from loss to proft (or vice-versa) without any clear reason.

The 2017 regatta was no exception and showed a slight improvement in turning a small loss of just under £1,000 in 2016 to a surplus of just over £500.

As has been said on several occasions, the regatta is not here to generate money but is to provide a great regatta for the competitors and hopefully cover its costs.

Any profit is useful for reinvestment in the event to protect ourselves in the future if we meet unexpected needs. So this year we still have to watch our costs and take action to maintain our balance.

Peter advised that overall the regatta income increased by 25 per cent, primarily driven by a 33 per cent increase in entry revenue and an 80 per cent increase in the catering and bar income, offset by a 10 per cent decrease in subscriptions and donations.

Two social events, the president’s river cruise in June and particularly the annual dinner in November, had been popular and also made important contributions to the regatta’s finances.

The president’s quiz, which wasn’t held in 2017, is being groomed for a reappearance in the near future.

The appointments made at the meeting were as follows: Vice-presidents — all existing were re-appointed with the addition of former president Dr Noel Snell; president — Guin Batten; deputy president — Rod Murray; chairman — Martin Levy; honorary general secretary — Ian Mills; honorary treasurer – Peter Knowles.

Members of the committee — Mrs A Bushnell; M K C Davies; Mrs M E Denham; M J Duff; K P Fisher; Mrs E Hodgkin; A Gordon; Mrs J Hope-Brown; Mrs H M Knowles; J P Lee; Q A Knowlson; L Spatcher; R Spatcher; J C B Sutherland; Mrs H Turnell; P Turnell; M D Williams and the captain of Henley Rowing Club.

Honorary auditor — Dr C Thompson; honorary trustees — John Luker and Tony Hobbs.

The 2018 Regatta will be held on Saturday, August 4. The full range of events will cater for crews of all abilities, from novice to elite.

The dress code is casual and refreshments, including a licensed bar, will be available in the spectators’ enclosure.

Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta is organised by and supported by people and businesses closely associated with Henley and its surroundings.

It’s an opportunity for local families to come and relax on the wonderful riverside lawns, thanks to the generosity of the stewards of the royal regatta in allowing us to hold our event there.

We are very much looking forward to this year’s regatta and to seeing close races and a good crowd of spectators enjoying themselves in the sunshine beside one of the world’s most famous stretches of river.

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