After many weeks of training two crews from Aberdyfi travelled to London on Friday, 9 September to take part in the annual London Great River Race on the Thames.

This is an event that A.R.C. has competed in many times over the years , always achieving brilliant results.

It is usually a spectacular, noisy competitive event attracting many spectators supporting the various types of boats that can be seen furiously battling for position on the sometimes very difficult waters of the Thames, with many competitors dressed in bright, colourful fancy dress.

However, following the sad death of Queen Elizabeth 11 on Thursday, 8 September the event was changed to be a more sombre Memorial Procession on the Thames, with boats to fly black ribbons along with their flags to honour the Queen.

The Aberdyfi Rowing Club women’s crew on the banks of the Thames for London Great River Race 2022
The Aberdyfi Rowing Club women’s crew on the banks of the Thames (Doris O’Keefe)

The Aberdyfi crews were Mike Rogers, Guy Shaw, Ian Andrews, Colin Francis, Tom Jones and Kevin Evans, and the ladies, Mary Upson, Isabel Bottoms, Tracey Evans, Gail Cross, Vickie Saunders and Olivia Woodward.

Aberdyfi Rowing Club chairman Mike Rogers was part of the men’s crew and said: “Following the sad death of the Queen, we realised there was a chance that the London Great River Race would be cancelled.

“As many competitors, including ourselves, had already left en route for London and with many crews from other parts of Europe already in London or also en route, the organisers had a very difficult decision to make.

The men’s crew finished sixth overall and second in the Celtic category at London Great River Race
The men’s crew finished sixth overall and second in the Celtic category (Doris O’Keefe)

“After much discussion it was decided that the event would go ahead but would be replaced in name to be a Memorial Procession in memory of Her Majesty’s passing.

“Our two Celtic longboat crews have both spent months of hard training under the guidance of our coach Ian Andrews, so we were all pleased to be able to continue and so be part of this historic occasion.

“Both our teams did extremely well in difficult rowing conditions

“The men’s crew completed the course in two hours thirty minutes with the ladies finishing in two hours forty eight minutes – very commendable for the 21.6 mile row.

“Our men’s crew were sixth overall and second in the Celtic category – this being a minute after the first Celtic and 12 minutes ahead of the third.

“We are pretty sure that Aberdyfi ladies were the first Celtic Ladies crew to finish – although this is still to be confirmed. A tremendous performance by all.

“We were all extremely grateful to Ian Andrews for towing the boats down to London and for passing on his knowledge and experience – a great help to us all.

“We all thoroughly enjoyed the event and were delighted with our performances.

“We look forward to taking part in the River Race next year but the experience this year of representing Aberdyfi Rowing Club and being part of such a momentous and historic occasion is something we shall never forget.”

Report: Doris O’Keefe