Move over Henley, Oxford and Cambridge, Sleaford is all set to have its own rowing regatta this summer.
The plan has been dreamed up by a group of local rowing enthusiasts who usually have to make waves at clubs further afield such as Boston, Nottingham or Peterborough and if it goes well, they see it as a way of spotting potential Olympic talent for the future.
The project is being headed by former international rower Olof Lapir who moved to the area recently.
He explained: “I have been looking around for somewhere to keep up my passion and saw the River Slea as a golden opportunity to create a brand-new sporting event and attract new talent.
“I know the Slea is nowhere near as wide as the Thames, but our first regatta, planned for July 4, is going to be a very exciting occasion.
“The boats the two teams will be using will have specially shortened oars, so that we don’t hit the banks or clash with each other when racing side by side.”
The Slea boat race will see the two teams set off from the slipway at Eastgate Green and race down to Cogglesford Mill. There the teams will have to get out and carry the boats over the lock and then row on as far as the A17 bypass.
Mr Lapir said: “It is going to be tough, especially going round the tight corners and getting over the lock at Cogglesford but we are in training for it, practising on rowing machines and lifting weights.”
To add more public participation there are a number of support races planned involving Dragon boats with teams invited to join in from pubs and businesses.
The newly-creatred Eslaforde Waterway Partnership is also on board and has been inviting narrowboat owners to bring their craft along for a go at the novelty sport of drag-racing with barges for some neck and neck action along the first stages of the rowing course.
A spokesman for the partnership said they were thrilled by the idea.
She said: “It is a great idea to get away from the steady image that narrowboating may have with some people. I am already working on changing the roses and castles paintwork on my boat and replacing it with a few go-faster stripes and flame effects. We will give the Fast and Furious films a run for their money!”
As with any regatta there will be plenty of entertainment on dry land too, with visitors invited to put on their finery to cheer on the rowers, although the Pimms tent is likely to be substituted for Batemans beer.
○ For any teams interested in joining in the Dragon boat races or narrowboat drag racing, send your team details to the Standard titled ‘April Fool’.