SOME 800 rowers made a big splash on the River Wye as nearly 400 boats from 35 clubs launched out for the two-day Monmouth Regatta at the weekend.

Monmouth Comprehensive School won five trophies on day one over the 1500m course, including Barney Shaw landing the new John Hartland Trophy named after the late club chairman and regatta secretary, who Monmouth RC's boathouse is named after.

And the two Haberdashers' Schools raced on Sunday over the 750m sprint course to three wins.

Two fours race on the Wye
Two fours race on the Wye. Photo: Oarstruck (Oarstruck)

The top events were Saturday's Blue Riband men's and women's 8s for the Phil Mathew Claret Jug and Alec Woods Ladies Plate respectively.

In the men's event, fresh from a best-ever top-75 finish in the Head of the River Race, Swansea University RC's Old Monmothian captain Ben Morgan led his crew to a 3L semi-final win over Bath University, while Minerva Bath took down Cardiff's colours in the other semi.

And the Tawe outfit then led from the off to take the Claret Jug, named after former Monmouth School teacher and regatta commentator Phil Mathew, by 5L.

A Monmouth Comprehensive sculler puts his back into it
A Monmouth Comprehensive sculler puts his back into it. Photo: Oarstruck (Oarstruck)

The women's final between Bath University and City of Bristol saw the students show their class to race clear and take the Ladies Plate, named after late club president and benefactor Alec Woods.

On Saturday, Monmouth Comprehensive rowers defended home waters in style, Joseff Jones racing to the morning U15 singles from his Dart opposition by 3L, while Barney Shaw took the afternoon event by 2L from Hartpury.

U14 girls' quad scullers Frankie Windebank, Sofia Tranka, Caitlin Harris, Elvie Pilkington and cox Phoebe Bambridge came home 5L clear of their Ross RC final opponents, while the school's U14 boys Tom King, Tomos Thorpe, Tom Ford, Theo Harrison and cox Lucas Walker were winners by a similar margin from their B crew.

And Daniel Grey, George Pustka landed U14 double sculls by a decent distance from Ross.

Monmouth School's Ollie Smith and James Wardle took the open men's pairs in a ding-dong with Cardiff University, breaking clear to win by 1 1/2L.

And Charlie Nicolle also took the U14 singles, beating clubmates Belshaw by 2L in the semi and Lally in the final

Two Monmouth School for Girls' boats also fought out the U14 girls' quadruple sculls final, Alexandra Strong, Juno Doman-France, Izzy Thompson, Isla Ovens and cox Valarie Chan racing to victory by 1/4L in one of the regatta’s closest races.

Sebastian Lee, son of Monmouth RC's Simon, also impressed on Sunday in Shiplake College colours, coming through a rain squall to beat Dart to U14 singles by 2.5L.

Tightest finish on Sunday was a dead-heat in over-60 masters doubles, Bradford-on-Avon beating Llandaff in the re-row.

The regatta proudly included adaptive rowing for the first time, making it a landmark occasion for inclusivity in the sport.

And showing age is no barrier, Monmouth RC also boated a quadruple scull with possibly the oldest rower in the event in former England long jumper Andrew Mollett, who is in his 80s.

He raced on Sunday with Athens Olympian Tim Male, fellow octogenarian John Benson and Dave Llewellyn in an over-60s quad, pushing Bradford-on-Avon to 4L.

GB-sponsored centre Hartpury were also in attendance, alongside Bath University's World Class Start programme, plus rowers from top clubs like Nottingham RC, Upper Thames, Staines, and City of Oxford.

Others launching on the Wye included Aberystwyth University, Carmarthen RC, Llandaff, Exeter, Dart-Totnes, Wimbleball, Cheltenham lLadies College, Abingdon, Bridgnorth, Hereford and Gloucester.

Many competitors remarked on how well run and friendly the regatta was, with more than 270 races over the weekend all running to time.

The event also raised more than £400 for the club's charity of the Year - Alzheimer's/ Dementia UK – from a sale of donated rowing kit.

Monmouth Regatta's organisers thanked their sponsors – Abbie Carpets; The Cottage Company; Monnow Eyecare; Roscoe, Rogers & Knight; Haberdashers' Monmouth School; Monmouth Chiropractic and Health Clinic; Hancocks of Monmouth Butchers; Millbrook Garden Centre; Kingstone Brewery; Auto Spray Monmouth Ltd; 5 Acres Hire; Towergate Insurance; Tod Security and Fire; South Wales Gliding Club; Simon Lee Aesthetic Medical Care; John and Susan Jenkins; James and Louise Allison; Sam and David Tod; Monmouth Canoe Hire & activity Centre; Kilsby Williams and Brunel Insurance.

See more photos: Page 38