Weybridge RC hosts “electric” NatWest Community Regatta

Weybridge Rowing Club hosted a pilot NatWest Community Regatta on Friday (25th April) – bringing together 23 novice crews for a fun day of racing on and off the water.

Richard Truett, Chairman of the Organising Committee and Director of Strategy at NatWest, commented on the day’s events.

“I’m delighted on how the community has pulled together to make this unique event happen. Local people have been given the opportunity to team up, get on the water and have some fun. I ended up more wet that I had hoped for on my first training outing – apparently I was not alone so many thanks from us all to the volunteers from Weybridge Rowing Club for their ongoing encouragement and enthusiasm.” 

The crews gathered at the Holiday Inn in Shepperton for breakfast and two motivational presentations from Stuart Lancaster, Head Coach England Rugby, and Neil Chugani, interim CEO of British Rowing. Stuart Lancaster gave a fascinating insight into what inspired success in English Rugby. Neil Chugani presented rowing as a metaphor for success in business and, with apologies to rugby, explained why he saw rowing as the ultimate team sport. “My thanks to Richard Truett of NatWest, all at Weybridge Rowing Club and in particular their captain Rachel Kornberg. Local projects such as this community regatta are a great addition to our grass roots programme and we look forward to seeing many more around the country.”

The crews boated from the regatta marquee at Elmbridge Canoe Club and the time trials commenced. All 23 crews competed over 500 metres, then split into two divisions for the knockout races in the afternoon, steered down the course by experienced local coxes.

“Well – we are still dry – apart from the rain,” gasped Andrew Morris, a director of Raven Roofing Supplies which has branches throughout the south of England, as the crew disembarked from the time trial. Just one of the crew, Adrian Tansley, had ever rowed before. “That was 30 years ago at Henley Rowing Club when the boathouse was in the town next to the Brakspear Brewery. I wasn’t very good then and I’ve certainly not improved,” he explained as the crew headed for the marquee and the ‘Team Ergo’ challenge.

“You can ‘plan, plan, plan’ for this kind of event but you will always miss something – earplugs. This is electric – the support of all the teams is awesome – and very loud,” said Weybridge volunteer Clive Capel who was co-ordinating the indoor rowing machine competition.

The first of the afternoon knockout races was a dead heat between local firm ‘CHEP’ and ‘Ticco Foods/Princes Trust Staff’, so it was back to the start to do it all again. There followed several close verdicts of less than half a length but the eventual winners of the two divisions were PGS (Petroleum Geo-Services) and Crest Nicholson, based in Chertsey. “Our plan was to get out in front and hang on, which we managed, somehow, to do – just,” explained James King, bow in the Crest boat. “It was great to win but the whole experience has been just amazing – we can’t fault it,” he added.

The two crews representing the Prince’s Trust, which helps disadvantaged young people, also raced each other. Kimberley Titterton from Ashford was bow in the winning crew. “I first got into a boat two months ago and fell in but it did get better after that and I definitely intend to carry on rowing,” she said.

GB Rowing Team members Jess Eddie and Matt Tarrant headed down to Shepperton after their training to present prizes to the winning crews.  

“Based on the success of this pilot initiative we have the opportunity to explore taking this concept forward on a National basis,” explained Richard Truett.   

Find out more about the NatWest Community Regatta at http://natwestcommunityregatta.com.

Maggie Phillips