ROWING REGATTA HISTORY
The annual Rowing Regatta at Marlow has been the premier social and sporting event in the life of the Town since 1855.
Marlow Regatta in 1873
Traditionally, Marlow Regatta's June date, originally just two weeks before Henley Royal Regatta, meant that crews, including many from overseas, came to Marlow to fine-tune their racing, enjoy Regatta Day and prepare for Henley. However, the opening of a multi-lane international course at Dorney Lake in 2000 provided an opportunity that the rowers were keen to accept. As a result, the Marlow Regatta moved to Dorney in 2001.
The decision to move had been expected in Marlow and plans for the continuation of a traditional Regatta Day were soon put in place. A Committee was set-up, made-up of volunteers from a number of Marlow organisations, including Marlow Rowing Club and the Town Council. With 6 months to go to June 2001 and its first Regatta, scheduled one week ahead of the Marlow Regatta at Dorney, the Marlow Town Regatta & Festival (MTRF) was born!
The first MTRF, on Saturday 16th June 2001, set out to replicate the Garden Party atmosphere of the earlier Regattas and succeeded! In pouring rain, the good-humoured crowd in the Enclosures enjoyed the youth rowing programme with its mix of a few dragon boats and welcomed the MTRF Joint Presidents, Sir Steve and Lady Redgrave, still fresh from Sir Steve's 5th gold victory at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The MTRF Committee was thus encouraged to proceed to a two day event in 2002.
MTRF 2002 established a Regatta Day on Saturday which replicated the format of previous Regattas, with a full rowing programme during the day and a parking/picnic area on the Cricket ground. The new Festival Day on Sunday was a more relaxed, family oriented event, with children's activities, a music programme, food court and bars in the general enclosure, and a full Dragon Boat programme on the river. Additionally, on both days, Exhibition and Trade Stands in the park were joined by a large Art & Craft Fair and, for local clubs and societies, the Marlow Showcase.
Despite some hiccoughs, the experimental two day formula had proved itself and became the norm for future MTRFs. 2012 saw the next major change with the picnicking being brought inside a much enlarged enclosure. The family friendly atmosphere that this created was a great success and is now the norm for future events. 2013 saw the addition of a sprint Canoe Regatta to the Sunday schedule. It was a great success and it is hoped that this will become a standard feature of Sunday's entertainment and an important part of the British Canoe Union (BCU) calendar.
The Marlow Town Regatta and Festival is now firmly on the map as an annual event combining a traditional Rowing Regatta and its garden party ambiance with a family day of Dragon Boat and Canoe racing. Add-in an increasing number of Trade Stands, a large and popular Craft Fair, and the Marlow Showcase - and there is more to do, and see, each year.