Excitement is building among Chester’s rowing community as this year’s Chester Regatta expands back into a two-day event this year.

The weekend of June 8-9 will see the River Dee awash with activity, with the Saturday host to the 700m downstream side by side races and the Sunday exhibiting the 700m and 350m straight courses, offering both downstream and more challenging downstream races.

The event is free for spectators, who are invited between 9am-5.30pm on both days to see racing at the Oldest Regatta in the World.

Dr Adele Munday, the Chester Regatta publicity and promotions officer, said: “We are thrilled to see the World’s Oldest Rowing Regatta expand to offer two days of competitive racing again.

"After 11 months of planning, we’re ready to host a special two-day ‘Celebration of Rowing’ which will be enjoyed by rowers from across the country. We invite Chester’s residents to come down to the meadows and cheer our competitors along from the banks of the Dee.

"Be sure to pop on the free ferry and admire our stunning historic trophies whilst enjoying something to eat and drink on the Sandy Lane regatta ground.”

After lying dormant for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the regatta exploded back onto the scene in 2022.

In 2023, Chester Regatta celebrated its 290th anniversary, welcoming back long-standing competing clubs, as well as attracting keen new faces such as Windermere, Bradford and Southport rowing clubs.

Following last year’s successes, clearly illustrated by the 250 crews competing across almost 200 races from a total of 19 clubs, the 291-year-old regatta is well on its way to reaching its full potential by its 300th anniversary in 2033.

Thanks to generous sponsorship of the King’s Coronation Cup by the Walker-Williams family for the second year on the trot, the 2024 competition is spicing up with crews eager to scoop the specially commissioned tankards and a fabulous £2,000 prize. Last year’s King’s Coronation Cup went to the elated Chester’s Deva Die-Hards, a Mixed Masters 8+ composed of rowers from 3 of Chester’s rowing clubs.

Event sponsor Max Walker-Williams summed up the overall attitude towards the event shared by competitors, sponsors, volunteers and spectators: “Supporting Chester Regatta’s growth over the past 2-3 years has given me a great sense of pride. This is a historic rowing event that everyone in Chester can enjoy.”.

With an archive full of images, programmes and trophies dating the event back to 1733, the current team behind the regatta are especially thankful for the work done to continue the regatta’s legacy by the Chair of the Race Committee, Paul Coady and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

In the past Chester Regatta was privileged to have Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, as their Patron. The Chester Regatta Committee wish his son, Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, and Olivia Henson all the very best for their marriage at Chester Cathedral on Friday, June 7, preceding the busy regatta weekend.

The 6th Duke of Westminster presenting prizes at Chester Regatta.

The 6th Duke of Westminster presenting prizes at Chester Regatta.

This year new sponsor PureGym Chester, will be offering a £1 a go ergo competition in the regatta marquee, with the funds raised over the weekend being donated to Chester Regatta’s chosen charity ‘The British Heart Foundation’. The competition is also great opportunity for old hands to flex a muscle or two, and newbies to give rowing a go.

To help boost growth of the regatta on its way to its 300th birthday, Steven Hesketh, ‘The Hospitality Hero’ and owner of The Chester Townhouse, is generously sponsoring £5,000 to help Chester Regatta grow into a multi-day event for the city of Chester to be proud of.

Steven said he was "thrilled to offer £1,000 prizes to the winners of the Senior Men’s and Women’s 8’s Sunday Sprints. These Upstream races will be certainly mean there’s some fast and furious action for spectators to cheer for!”

Alongside Steven Hesketh, Hickory’s Smokehouse Chester are sponsoring two new Junior upstream sprint events for boys and girls quads as well as a special invitational Youth Rowing race on Sunday offering fee-free entry to juniors introduced to rowing through the Chester Schools Together Partnership.