A RECORD 79 boats launched out at Penarth Regatta - the oldest rowing event in Wales, which even predates the town’s pier by 15 years.

Hosts Penarth Rowing Club also ended a three-year wait for a victory at their 137-year-old home event, landing the mixed novice fours event.

Racing 600m alongside the cliffs to finish at Penarth Yacht Club, there were plenty of tight finishes as eight clubs launched out on the sea in quadruple sculls and coxed fours.

Good weather meant for calm conditions as the hosts’ own Gregg Bennett, Alex Rich, Harriet Mintowt-Czyz, Gulcin Ella Ozkan and cox Mary Scaglioni went nip and tuck with Monmouth Rowing Club in the final of the mixed novice fours before breaking clear in the last 20 strokes to win by three-quarters of a length.

Hereford just pipped Monmouth by three foot in the semis of the open quads, before beating City of Swansea in the final, and their veterans also took victory in the masters quads from their fellow Wye rivals.

But Monmouth took the women’s quads by a canvas on the outer station from Swansea, and then won an even tighter battle with top Thames club Wallingford to take the mixed event by just two feet.

Swansea just came through on the line to edge a Monmouth School for Girls crew by a canvas in the junior girls quads final, and also landed the junior open event by two lengths from Monmouth School for Boys and Hereford.

But the boys and girls from the Haberdashers’ schools combined to prove a class act in the mixed junior quads, racing home one length clear of Hereford to grab the pots.

After a 20-minute break to re-rig the boats for sweep rowing, it was the turn of the coxed fours.

And Wallingford, the reigning Victor Ludorum champions at the British Masters Championships, proved unstoppable for the third year running in the final of the open fours, beating Hereford’s open quad winners in a three-lane final by two lengths.

City of Swansea also turned the tables on their women’s open quad conquerors Monmouth RC, taking the coxed four equivalent by two feet after storming through in the last 10 strokes.

Penarth did well to beat Swansea by two and a half lengths in their men’s masters semi-final, but despite a gallant effort fell to Hereford by one length in the final.

Monmouth RC beat Swansea by the same margin to land the women’s masters fours, but the tables were turned in the mixed event as the Tawe outfit raced away on the shore side station to win by two lengths.

There was controversy in the semi-finals of the novice fours, as Monmouth School ’s A crew were given a three-foot verdict over Hereford after surviving a crab years from the line, only to then be disqualified by the umpire for crossing into the lane of another boat that was several lengths off the pace.

The decision seemed somewhat overzealous given that the only boat that was effected were Monmouth School themselves, who ended up rowing marginally further than they needed to.

But their B crew made no mistake in the final storming away from Hereford to win by two and a half lengths.

Anything the boys could do, Monmouth School for Girls could as well, beating home rivals Monmouth RC to the women’s novice fours by three lengths.