WYE rowers made waves at the two-day Henley Masters Regatta as more than 1,200 rowers from 12 countries and 170 clubs launched out on the Thames.

Following the Royal Regatta the previous week, it was the turn of the sport’s veterans to race on the purpose-built timber-boomed Thames course, including former Olympians and internationals, with the rowers ages ranging from 27 up to some in their 80s.

And fresh from helping the club win the Victor Ludorum at last month’s British Rowing Masters Championships, Monmouth RC’s women didn’t disappoint, winning titles in the eight and four.

Monmouth RC's women's squad celebrate with club coach Tim Male
Monmouth RC's women's squad celebrate with club coach Tim Male (Oarstruck Photography)

Racing upstream over 1,000m, Ellen Rule, Sue Smith, Sara Part, Dawn Brace and cox Taryn Birkett beat London club Auriol Kensington by 3L in their Masters D (over-50 average age) coxed four semi-final.

And then they picked up the medals with a hard-fought 1 1/2L win over Milton Keynes.

The WMF 8 (over-60) of Louise Allison, Melanie Brown, Mary Miller, Maggie Hickland, Kate Hooton, Bonita Birkett, Shelagh Sawyer, Liz Lewis and cox Darcy Birkett – daughter of Bonita and sister of Taryn – then launched out to race Aberdeen in their final.

And they dominated from the off, coming home several lengths clear.

Monmouth RC’s men were involved in the closest race of the regatta against their old London University alumni rivals Tyrian in the MF 8s, who contained a former Olympian and several other ex-GB internationals and Henley Royal medallists. 

The first attempt to race was scuppered by thunder and lightning as they were getting on the start, with the regatta suspended for the storm to clear and rowers forced to rush to the bank for cover.

The crew of James Allison, Alex Mitchell, Mark Stewart-Woods, Colin Lewis, Nick Hartland, Andrew Barnett, Nick Hooton, Tim Earnshaw and cox Hannah Llewellyn-Davies then tried again 90 minutes later, but immediately found themselves 1/2L down off the blocks.

They threw everything at it in the second half to get back on terms, closing in the final 250m, but ran out of water just three feet shy, with the winners going on to win the final from Londoners Tideway Scullers by some 2L.

Simon Lee, Stewart-Woods, Hooton, Earnshaw and Llew-ellyn-Davies came through two tough MF fours rounds against US rivals, beating Cambridge, Boston, by 1 1/4L and Rocky Mountain, Colorado, by 3/4L. 

But with Allison coming in for the unavailable Lee in the final, they found the power of Molesey’s ex-GB internationals too much to handle, losing out by 4L.

A WMF four of Louise Allison, Melanie Brown, Mary Miller, Liz Lewis and cox Darcy Birkett also fought hard against US outfit Marin, but had to give second best by 1 3/4L.

Alex Mitchell and Toby Harding beat a Kingston Rc duo in ME (over-55) double sculls, but then missed out by 5L to Olympian Guy Pooley and fellow Boat Race partner Dave Gillard.

Club coach Tim Male was on the winner’s podium though, helping a Tideway Scullers 8 beat Tyne Rc in their ME final by over a length.