A RECORD 219 boats launched out for the Monmouth Winter Head of the River as the town's junior rowers set the pace against the clock over the 2,200 metre downstream course.
Racing from Hadnock to the club steps, Monmouth School's J18 eight took the overall head pennant in six minutes 49.8 seconds by 3.5 seconds from Cardiff University's Intermediate 3 crew with Swansea University another 4.7 seconds back.
The pennant for fastest women's crew in the Monmouthshire Building Society-sponsored event went to sister school Haberdashers' Monmouth, whose eight raced home in 7.58.7 to take the IM3 class, just 1.5 seconds ahead of Cardiff University.
Monmouth Rowing Club's IM1 women's singler Pip Thomas, who recently won her class in the national Pairs Head in London, took the top women's sculler pennant in 9.01.3, 15 seconds clear of her nearest Bristol challenger.
And the Haberdashers' Monmouth coach also teamed up with Monmouth Comprehensive School's British U16 singles champion Emily Richards to set a highly impressive time of 8.01.6 as the fastest women's double scull, while MRC clubmate Hope Henry took girls' U16 singles in 9.30.8.
Elite singles winner Paul Robinson of Cardiff City took the pennant for fastest men's singe in 8.14.1.
Seventeen clubs raced, including Oxford-based Hinksey Sculling School, City of Bristol, Swansea City, Hereford and Trentham from Stoke.
Monmouth crews took 12 classes in the annual pre-Christmas time-trial as several crews sported festive head gear and decked their boats in tinsel.
Monmouth School's four winners included their IM1 eight which, racing into a stronger headwind in Division 2, pipped Swansea University by just four tenths of a second - about four feet - in 7.06.2, with Cardiff's students and Bristol Ariel another five and six seconds back respectively.
Their IM1 coxless four also won, covering the Wye course in 7.18.0, 9.4secs ahead of nearest rivals Bristol Ariel, alongside their J18 coxed four who beat Hinksey by 10 seconds in 7.44.2.
Haberdashers' Monmouth landed five titles, including women's novice fours in 8.12.7, women's novice eights in 8.30.2, girls' J18 coxed fours in 8.46.0 and girls' U15 coxed quadruple sculls in 8.52.1 where they beat Hinksey by 11 seconds.
MRC's Eric Froggatt said: "We had a fantastic entry and had to close entries early as we couldn't have handled any more in the two divisions we run. We might have to think about holding three divisions next time and starting earlier.
"The dry weather meant we had no fast stream problems, while the sunshine was an added bonus.
"We try to put on well organised, friendly events, and many of the rowers have congratulated us on the head. Our system, of boating crews one at a time, so they row up the the start, turn and race without having to sit around in the cold too long works very well."
For full results visit www.monmouthrc.org.uk and there are pictures of every boat racing at www.facebook.com/MonmouthRC