THERE will be plenty of superb rowing action featuring the cream of the Island's young talent in the Isle of Wight Rowing Weekend, starting in Ryde tomorrow (Saturday).

Ryde Rowing Club will host the second Hampshire and Dorset Amateur Rowing Association (HDARA) Championship regatta of the season, with Shanklin-Sandown Rowing Club hosting its championship regatta on Sunday.

This year, Ryde Regatta marks the 42nd anniversary of an HDARA championship regatta being held off Appley Beach. 

The first was held in June 1977, as part of the club's centenary celebrations and, following the successful introduction of a Hampshire and Dorset Championship regatta, organised jointly by Shanklin and Ryde Rowing Clubs, first held at Yaverland in 1972.

The joint organising committee and the HDARA agreed to stage the 1977 regatta at Ryde, in what was expected to be a one-off change of venue in recognition of the club's centenary.

But such was the success of the event, the two Island clubs and the association agreed the Isle of Wight should host two championship regattas each year, with one at Ryde and one at Shanklin, and so the Isle of Wight Rowing Weekend was established with both clubs staging their own regattas since 1978.

Both regattas have proved to be very popular, which led, in part, to the introduction of the third HDARA regatta on the Island run by Newport Rowing Club.  

This year, Ryde Regatta has attracted an exceptionally large entry of 104 crews and scullers, well up on last year.

The regatta will feature a packed programme of 19 races, to be completed in just over four and a half hours over a 1,820m course from Appley Beach, near to the Ryde Rowing Club headquarters in Appley Park, towards Ryde Pier and back after a buoy turn.

Races will include senior, junior and novice men in coxed fours, senior and junior men in coxless pairs, and senior, junior and novice men in single sculls.

For ladies, there will be senior, junior and novice coxed fours, senior and junior ladies' pairs and ladies' junior and novice sculling events.

There is also a masters (formerly known as 'veteran') fours event for mixed 40+ men and women.

The tegatta is scheduled to start at the earlier-than-usual time of 9.30am, due to tides, with a race every ten to 15 minutes.

Prizes will be presented by a representative of the regatta's main sponsors, TLM Laser, at the clubhouse at around 3pm.

Shanklin Regatta will start at 10.30am on Sunday.