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, just two weeks before Henley Royal Regatta each year, meant that crews, including many from overseas, came to Marlow to fine-tune their racing, enjoy â€˜Regatta Dayâ€™ 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 â€˜Regatta Dayâ€™ 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 â€“ scheduled one week ahead of the Marlow Regatta at Dorney â€“ the â€˜Marlow Town Regatta & Festival (MTRF)â€™ was born!
The first â€˜MTRFâ€™, on Saturday 16th June 2001, set out to replicate the â€˜Garden Partyâ€™ atmosphere of the earlier Regattas â€“ 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 Steveâ€™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 â€˜Regatta Dayâ€™ 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 â€˜Festival Dayâ€™ on Sunday was a more relaxed, family oriented event, with childrenâ€™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 â€˜Marlow Showcaseâ€™.
Despite some hiccoughs, the experimental two day formula had proved itself and became the norm for future MTRFs. A new â€˜Festival Dayâ€™ activity from 2003 onwards - now an established success. 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.
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 â€˜family dayâ€™ of Dragon Boat racing. Add-in an increasing number of Trade Stands, a large and popular Craft Fair, and the â€˜Marlow Showcaseâ€™ - and there is more to do, and see, each year.