HUNDREDS of people gathered on the River Dee on Saturday to enjoy the 280th birthday of the Chester Regatta.
The enthusiastic crowd roared on 16 clubs as they competed in 175 races at the event, first held in 1733.
In an event accepted as the oldest rowing regatta of its type in the world, the competitors, aged from 12 to over 70, were bathed in warm sunshine.
All the 52 events were keenly contested with a full nine hours of racing brimming with thrills and spills.
Among the highlights was a first senior victory for the Grosvenor RC crew of Tom Griffin, Ric Creasey, Rob Hulson, Jonathan Bryning, Nick Jones, Ges Hegarty, Simon Griffiths, Nick Lindop and cox Sharon Parry in the Wirral Challenge Cup and Goblets for Novice 8+.
They beat Trafford RC by half a length in the final to be presented with the Cup and Goblets, first dished out in 1873.
Grosvenor won the Bob Arthur Trophy for Women’s Masters 1x courtesy of Janet Voberg, and the Masters C 4x through Rich Maclean, Tim Howe, Jez Perkins and Jeremy Lush who easily beat Liverpool Victoria.
But they were pipped by Royal Chester – who also won the J15 2x, the Cheshire Council Cup J15 1x, Women’s J14x+ and J14 2x – in the Masters E 4x final.
Queens Park High School, one of only six state schools to have a rowing club, won six events.
Lucy Clegg, Becky Clegg, Richard Cain and Simon Cole took first in the IM3 4x.
Leon Langmead and Chris McCartney broke the tape in the John Dorman Cup IM3 2x, while the J14 2x was won by Emily Cox and Amy Williamson.
Sam McIlwaine, Felicity Weir, Rona Fishburn, Eve Finlay and cox Lucy Clegg were too good for the rest in the J13 4x Coronation Cup.
Fishburn and Weir scooped the J13 2x prize while Matt Ward was Blue Peter Cup J13 1x winner.
The King’s School won the Eaton Plate Women’s Novice 1x, the Observer Bowl J18 4+ and Women’s J14 4x+.
Cllr Jill Houlbrook attended the event in her capacities as Lord Mayor of Chester and Admiral of the Dee.
The Lord Mayor sponsored the Quart Pewter Tankards, awarded to Admiral of the Dee Trophy for Novice 4+ winners Salford University RC.
The Lord Mayor’s Prize for Women’s Novice 4+ was won by Agecroft RC.
The City of Chester Challenge Cup for IM3 1x was won by Penwern BC, who also scooped the Pierce Trophy for Women’s Masters C/D 8+ against Grosvenor.
Agecroft tied with Mersey RC for the Visitor’s Victor Ludorum in the senior category.
Grange School RC took the Visitor’s Victor Ludorum junior category and also took the Victor Ludorum Altiore Trophy thanks to a dramatic single-point success over Royal Chester RC.
The most hard-fought final of the day was won by Runcorn RC who beat Liverpool Victoria RC in the Women’s J16 2x by a quarter of a length.
The Northgate Brewery Cup for Women’s IM2 4+ was won by Agecroft who beat Chester University RC in fine style in the final.
Agecroft also won the Frost & Holland Cup for IM2 4+ thanks to a narrow victory over King’s School in the final.
Chester MP Stephen Mosley MP also attended the Regatta, sponsored by Halewood International, the Merseyside-based producer and importer of fine wines, spirits and speciality drinks.
Chris Bartley and Victoria Thornley have been named in the biggest ever GB Rowing Team for a World Cup, to be held at Eton Dorney this weekend.
Former King’s School pupil Bartley, 29, from Farndon, will stroke the lightweight men’s four after winning Olympic silver in the same event at the London 2012 Olympics.
The ex-world champion is in fine form after claiming a silver in the opening World Cup of the season in Sydney, Australia.
Former Abbey Gate College student Thornley, 25, from Holt, will go it alone in the women’s single sculls after coming third in this year’s national trials.
She doubled up at the Sydney World Cup, finishing fourth in both the women’s double scull and the women’s eight.