One of Wales’ oldest sports clubs pushed the boat out – with a row past at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.
Founded in 1869, Monmouth School for Boys Rowing Club is the oldest boat club in the principality.
And after its current crop of rowers produced one of their best ever Henley performances putting out their seeded American opponents on the first day of this year’s regatta, 18 old boys took to the water in two eights for a celebration row past during the Saturday lunch break.
The 180-year-old five-day regatta, which this year attracted a record entry from 13 countries, started with a bang for the 150-year-old Wye school club, who have enjoyed one of their most successful ever years with gold medals in the Schools’ Head of the River on the Thames in London in March and the National Schools’ Regatta in May.
When five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave drew their name out of the regatta’s Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Town Hall to race US seeds Kent School in the opening round of the Princess Elizabeth Cup school 8s, it looked like a tall order.
But Iwan, Joe, Antony, Ryan, Ben, Robbie, Cameron, Hamish and cox Jack were determined to make an impression in what proved to be an epic race.
Despite the stone-and-a-half per man heavier Conneticut crew taking a slight early lead of a canvas, the Monmouth crew began to inch back after the 1/2-mile mark.
There was just two feet in it at the 3/4-Mile mark before the Wye boat squeezed in front just before the mile post to lead by a single foot.
And hitting the enclosures and roared on by a partisan crowd they stormed away to win by 3/4L in six minutes 32 seconds.
For American OM Stu Jackson, who took part in Saturday’s 150th anniversary row past, there were split loyalties as he spent a year at Monmouth School for Boys in 1969 having attended Kent.
A much heavier Shrewsbury crew had fractionally too much fire power in the last 16, beating Monmouth by 1 3/4L, but Olympic legend Matt Pinsent was so impressed with their first round showing he included the race on his pick of the day on the Henley Royal Regatta YouTube programme.
The Severn boat lost narrowly to losing finalists Scotch College, Melbourne, in the last eight, but Old Monmothian Olympic gold medal coach Robin Williams had a hand in the event-winning Eton crew, masterminding their triumph.
Robin, himself a world medallist and 11-time Cambridge Boat Race chief coach, was one of the Old Monmothians doing the row past to celebrate the sesquicentenary.
One eight comprised the 1969 Monmouth School for Boys crew celebrating their 50th anniversary, and included Moscow Olympic medallist Charlie Wiggin and Oxford Boat Race Blue Paul Marsden, alongside Brian Bamford, Stu Jackson, Robin Gardner, Gordon ‘Elmer’ Ellis, Mark Zygadlo, Mike O’Donovan and cox Dave Palmer.
The other eight including Robin Williams comprised Henley medallists and former GB and Wales internationals rowing in the school’s new eight, named after their former coach and teacher John W Hartland.
Double world medallist and Henley winner James Hartland jetted in from Florida to row in the crew named after his dad, alongside brother Nick.
And the crew was steered by former UK Minister for Sport and British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan, who said: “I’m so grateful to my first coach John Hartland for inspiring me to love rowing and constantly encourage me. Respect and gratitude.”
Also on board were James Knight, Julian George, Steve Pearson, Dave Peill and Jeremy Edwards.
Afterwards, more than 100 people enjoyed a picnic where the 2019 eight were called on to make the 200th row past in 2069.