Hants & Dorset dominate the South Coast Champs

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The River Torridge in Bideford played host to 800 rowers on September 8-9, for the 2012 South Coast Championships.

The two-day regatta attracted 29 clubs, competing in a senior championships for coxed fours on the Saturday and junior races – for rowers aged 14 to 18 in quads, fours, doubles and singles – on the Sunday.

In the Championship Senior races, the Hants & Dorset Amateur Rowing Association crews put in a dominant display – winning four out of six events. West of England Amateur Rowing Association (WEARA) crews took the top positions in the remaining two events.

The much sought-after ‘Bideford Bowl’ trophy – awarded to the winners of the Championship Senior Men’s Fours – went to Ryde’s Tom Clarke, Sam Cocker, Matt Allsopp, Ian Hayden and Ed Newnham (cox). The Ryde quartet powered home in the closing stages of the race, overhauling the favourites from Bexhill in the process.

It was a double-celebration for the Isle of Wight club, as Ryde’s Men’s Junior/Senior crew of Charlie and Joe Norman, Harvey Kirkby, Charlie Gedling and cox Max Reeve triumphed in their Championship race.

In the Ladies’ Senior Championship, the Greenbank Falmouth crew (pictured) of Sarah Lewis, Bethan and Rosie Owens together with Mary Coote ran out convincing winners ahead of pre-race favourites Lymington and Southampton.

It was the second successive year that the crew has won the premier ladies title, with only one change to the crew from last year’s event – Mary Coote replacing Kate Conway in this year’s line up.

If Greenbank Falmouth’s win was not entirely unexpected, the same could not be said of the Bideford Blues youngsters who swept all before them in the Ladies’ Junior (Senior C) championship.

The crew of Zoe Robertson, Annie Cook, Alice Jackson and Megan Harty who are all or have been recent pupils at Kingsley School in Bideford, and totally dominated the race from start to finish – winning by a comfortable four-length margin ahead of Christchurch and local rivals Dart Totnes.

It was a remarkable performance by the crew who could only finish in second place in the local domestic championship, some way behind the runaway leaders from Totnes.

Hants and Dorset also came out top in the Championship Veteran race, where the two favourites from Coalporters and Folkestone went head to head. The Southampton Coalies crew of Russell Quinton, and Andy, Ian and Robert Williams came home well clear of the defending champions from Folkestone.

Coalies also took the honours in the Junior Championship, where Tristan Symes, Andy Hammond, Jack Bladen and Jack Williams beat their hometown rivals from BTC Southampton, with the Plymouth four in third spot.

Sunday was the turn of the juniors to demonstrate their talents and it was the local clubs – in particular the powerful Dart Totnes, Plymouth and Bideford Reds juniors – who swept all before them in the majority of races. 

Such was their dominance that Dart Totnes finished the day with 36 points, with Plymouth in second spot with 30 and Bideford Reds a further eight points adrift in third place. West of England crews won 15 out of the 18 races that were held in singles, doubles and fours boats.

Castledore junior Jessica Newson took two fine victories across the weekend, triumphing in the Ladies Junior 16 single scull before linking up with Anna Whittingslow from Exeter to win the Ladies J16 Double Sculls.

Bideford Reds won both the J14 coxed quads events, whilst there was similar success for Dart Totnes in the corresponding J16 category – though their men’s crew had to share the trophy with Ryde having finished dead level as they crossed the finishing line.

In the J18 single sculling events, GB Junior International Emma Reiser from Dart Totnes held off a strong challenge from her arch rival, Alice Jackson of The Blues, to win the ladies’ event. Meanwhile, Plymouth Sam Twine, who has been consistently to the forefront of local races this season, pulled off a fine win ahead of Simon Kerswell-Jensen from Dart Totnes and team-mate Danny Carlson – who also finished dead level as they crossed the line.

London 2012 gold-medallist Helen Glover was the guest of honour at the Regatta, and spent the entire time on the Saturday signing autographs and posing for photographs with rowers and spectators. She was also on hand to present medals to the winning crews at the prize giving after the completion of the days racing, and to also show everybody the gold medal she won in the coxless pairs at Eton Dorney.

Sent in by Dave Godfrey. If you would like your news to be posted on the British Rowing website, email news@britishrowing.org.