One of the biggest annual sporting events in Ross-on-Wye has been sunk - by low water levels caused by the current drought.
The 140-year-old annual Ross Regatta, which now takes place over three days and includes rowing and dragon boating, has been cancelled on safety grounds, because there simply isn’t enough water in the Wye to race on.
The regatta, which dates back to at least the 1880s, has never been cancelled before because of low water, although high water scuppered it in the mid-1990s.
This year’s rowing entry, of some 800 rowers in nearly 300 boats per day on the Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday sold out weeks ago, with rowing clubs entered from all over the country.
The cancellation is unprecedented and the regatta committee has done everything it possibly could to allow the event to proceed.
Tim Davies club chairman
But organisers who inspected the 800m course on Friday have decided the expensive shell boats, with 8s costing up to £50,000 each, will get damaged if the event goes ahead.
They were hoping to possibly race the event over a shorter course, but have decided there is simply too much risk from the current level of the water.
The regatta missed out in 2020 due to lockdown, but was one of the few in the UK to go ahead last year.
Tim Davies, club chairman and regatta organiser, told members: “I am sorry to say that I am cancelling the Ross Regatta this year.
“The cancellation is unprecedented and the regatta committee has done everything it possibly could to allow the event to proceed.
“However, with the low water levels on the river and the forecast August heatwave, it would be unsafe for us to allow competition on such a small amount of water.
“There are some moves afoot to still make some use of the weekend but there will be no racing events taking place.
“I know this is not news you wanted to hear, but I’ve tried everything I could think of to still hold the regatta, even looking into the release of water upstream by the Environment Agency but all efforts have failed.
“Cancelling two weeks before allows me to not forfeit heavy cancellation fees to services that we lease for the regatta and there really is no expectation of heavy precipitation across mid-Wales in the next few weeks.
“Also cancelling now means that clubs can plan to do other things with the bank holiday weekend.”