MARLOW’S most famous son Sir Steve Redgrave arrived in style to open the town’s showpiece event – the Marlow Town Regatta and Festival.

Sir Steve and his wife Ann joined regatta organisers in taking a close look at the racing conditions on the River Thames during a boat trip from the Complete Angler to the starting mark before they docked by the grandstand.

Dignitaries were welcomed to the event by regatta chairman Nav Ali and vice-chairman Lance Slater before Sir Steve - honorary president of the event - raised a toast and declared the 14th annual festival open.

He said: “It’s always an honour to be down here. Marlow Town Regatta is, and has always been, something Marlow should be very proud of.

“The core of the regatta is about the people out on the water but the most important thing from our point of view is what happens on the land.

“The subtle changes made over the last two or three years have made a big difference – a bigger enclosure, getting more people in with the picnic areas – it gets people out of their cars and into this area to see people competing.

“We are honoured to be presidents. We are passionate about the whole process of keeping the regatta going in Marlow and giving lots of young people, and some of the old as well, the opportunity to compete in rowing.”

The Olympic great also joked that he was delighted the World Cup was being played in Brazil as it enabled visitors to enjoy both the action on the pitch as well as the racing on the water – which began at about 7am this morning.

He said: “It’s very kind the World Cup went to Brazil this year as it means I don’t have to listen to the commentary in my car – I can watch it at home after it has all finished.

“As it does interfere with regatta life, seeing all the guys sitting in their cars listening to the radio, so thank you FIFA and come on England!”

Higginson Park was awash with smart, colourful blazers and posh frocks as hundreds of people soaked up the rowing, entertainment and refreshments.

Marlow FM provided the musical backdrop to the festival - with live performers taking to the stage throughout the day.

Marlow’s Round Table and Inner Wheel clubs staffed the Rebellion Brewery and Pimms bars, while a host of south Bucks-based charities and businesses had stalls dotted around the bustling picnic area.

Children were also able to shout and scream to their heart’s content as they jumped on the inflatables and the rides in the ever-popular fairground.

Residents will be able to enter the enclosure and watch the dragonboat and canoe racing for free tomorrow. The boats hit the water from about 9am.