Guernsey Offshore Regatta report

The 2009 Guernsey Offshore Regatta produced its usual exciting racing.  All eyes had been on the weather forecast during the days leading up to the event. However Saturday’s race was to offer the competitors a moderate force 3 south westerly wind that provided varied conditions ranging from calm to large waves that challenged all.

The Channel Islands only rowing regatta is now in its sixteenth year and has never been cancelled due to bad weather.  The regatta is now a truly international event with crews from England, Wales and France competing this year. It is a firm favourite due to the varying and challenging tidal courses and conditions which were a great rehearsal for those competing in the 2009 FISA World Rowing Coastal Championships, in Plymouth in October.  Members of the Mayflower RC competed in the Guernsey regatta as a warm up in preparation for their event later this year, and raced the new quad that will be used by competitors during the event.

The first boats to embark on the 16km course, heading towards the churning open water were the singles and mixed pairs classes. Guernsey Rowing Club members James Briggs and Margi Jorgensen established early leads respectively in the men’s and ladies classes, handling the challenging conditions extremely well they maintained their positions to win their classes. 

In the Mixed pairs classes, experienced Steve Pipe and Liz Bellot (GRC) relished the conditions and went on to beat fellow GRC crew, ‘The Learning Company’ by seven minutes. Meanwhile the ladies pairs from Aberdyfli in Wales settled into their rowing and managed the conditions to win their class.  

Of the eight ladies fours boats, ‘Sydney Charles’ dominated the class to win four minutes ahead of Exmouth RC, and Two Degrees North (GRC) in third place. Some of the crews did not allow for the southerly flowing tide on the last leg back across the open water and found themselves rowing back to the turn and losing valuable time. Once again Joe Paul and Paul Isaacs (GRC), took the Men’s pairs title ahead of St Peters Trust (GRC) by just over 3 minutes, with Will Dodds and James Murray (GRC) rowing in third.

The unluckiest crew around this season may be ‘Legis’ (GRC). They seem to have a habit of breaking equipment, hitting things and again while in second place not far behind Julius Baer, their rudder struck a rock costing them valuable time. This allowed FRM to recover second spot and once Legis rejoined the race they managed to hold third position.

Just as unlucky were the young Cherbourg crew, who arrived at the start line after their class had set off and decided to retire after taking two huge waves over the bow which swamped them.

The second race of the regatta, which is held within the more sheltered inshore waters, was fast and furious. The first class to start were the singles and ladies pairs, with GRC captain Tim Prout establishing an early lead to cross the line first. Three-minute start intervals between classes meant that soon the bulk of the fleet were converging and finishing in a flurry.  Margi Jorgensen (GRC) again finished first in the ladies category ahead of Jane Edwards (Exmouth RC), Joe Paul and Paul Isaacs (GRC) again won the men’s pairs by a similar margin to the Saturday race.

With FRM not racing in the second men’s race, Bank Julius Baer (GRC) established an early lead and won ahead of the Legis crew by just under one minute, both crews managed to avoid any major incidents, with Exmouth RC coming in third.

Report from Tim Prout, Guernsey Rowing Club