STRATFORD Boat Club bosses have confirmed discussions are taking place over running their annual regatta in September after the hugely popular event was cancelled due to safety concerns.
The Stratford Regatta, which has been running in town since 1879 and was scheduled for last Saturday, was called off on Thursday morning due to the rising levels of the River Avon and the speed at which the water was flowing.
These conditions meant it was unsafe for attending crews to be safely marshalled and club chiefs made the difficult decision to cancel the event.
The last time the Stratford Regatta was cancelled due to flooding was back on 16th June 2007.
However, club president Paul Stanton has revealed they hope to run the regatta in September, but this all depends on if British Rowing can find space in their calendar to squeeze in the event.
Stanton said: “We have been very cheered by the understanding and sympathy of our sponsors, who have rallied round and supported us.
“We are most grateful for their help and staying with us during a challenging time.
“We hope to re-run the regatta in September and we are currently sounding out the authorities and suppliers to see if they are available in September.
“It also depends on whether British Rowing can squeeze in another regional event in the very crowded regatta programme.
“The initial support from sister clubs in the area has been very encouraging.”
Over the weekend, Stratford BC members cleaned up the marquees and left them out to dry, marquees poles were sorted and bent straight and the whole area was tidied up.
The river remained challenging and high and only the more senior and experienced crews were allowed onto the water, although no crews went upstream through Clopton Bridge where the water ran fast.
Shân Stokes, Stratford BC’s safety advisor, said: “Cancelling the regatta on Thursday morning with the river conditions running high and fast and the forecast showing rising levels and more rain was the correct decision.
“Many of the competitors are comparatively young and inexperienced and have to travel to considerable distance to our regatta.
“Safety is paramount in our culture at Stratford Boat Club and the conditions on the day justified our considered judgement prior to the event which was also borne out by several experienced authorities’ comments.”
The cancellation of the regatta has also led to the club taking a ‘considerable’ financial hit as it is one of their major fundraisers, not just a showpiece event for athletes to showcase their prowess and capability on the water.
“All the income from the bar, tent tea, barbecue and entry fees is ploughed back into the club to be spent on the ever increasing costs of equipment, utilities, insurance, property and boat maintenance and subsidising membership fees wherever possible,” added club treasurer Paul Hazelwood.
“Onwards and upwards to our very full and action-packed Fun Regatta on Saturday, 13th July.”
Meanwhile, Stratford’s WJ17/18 crew have been training hard for Friday’s Henley Women’s Regatta.
Coach Graham Collier said: “The Henley Women’s Regatta is the pinnacle of achievement for women’s rowing in the United Kingdom.
“We are so proud of our young athletes who have trained so hard to be at the peak of fitness and technique.
“This time of year is also a very busy time in their lives with exams and other conflicting commitments.
“Their handling of all these pressures shows maturity beyond their years.
“They are a great credit to Stratford and the club.”