Poole hosts blustery but successful Regatta

Poole Regatta’s overcast conditions did not bode well for the annual regatta taking place at Rockley Park on Saturday 2 August. The delayed start coincided with a massive downpour; nonetheless, the event went ahead despite the weather. 

Race conditions consisted of a strong on-shore side wind which generated huge chop and pushed the coastal boats towards the shore. The challenge came in a number of forms: maintaining a straight line, establishing a rhythm and making sure that the blade always found the water. 

“You know when the conditions are extreme when the senior men fight to free their blade from the water,” commented a spectator during the seniors race where the Itchen A crews won the senior men’s fours, senior ladies’ fours and junior ladies’ fours.

Host club Poole had a good series of wins too including the junior men’s fours, veteran 40, veteran 50 and J16 girls’ sculls. Their success brought them the overall Victor Ludorum trophy. 

Mark Bentley, a member of the winning junior men’s four crew, said: “The conditions were very rough and choppy. Racing is sheer determination and you have to tell yourself to just keep going.” 

Poole crewmate Ryan Dudley agreed: “To get through that rough, technique goes out of the window – instead you do what you have to do.” 

Grinning, he added: “It is four all between BTC and Poole junior men’s fours now!”

The conditions also meant that the teenage Christchurch novice women’s crew did not know they had won because they couldn’t hear the klaxon over the wind. Once they found out they were ecstatic. 

“After 11 regattas, where we kept coming second, we finally did it!” declared Grace Tebbutt. “We worked so hard and it finally paid off.” 

Katie Crane, the courageous J16 girls’ sculls winner, caught two crabs and almost went in. 

Once back on dry land she said: “When you are out there in a scull you are thrown all over the place. You have to make sure you have fast hands away and keep tapping along. Sculling on waves like that is not for the faint-hearted and you have to accept that you could simply tip in.”

Back manning the drinks tent, after winning the veteran 40 race Ray Murphy said that it was his crew’s seventh win in the Hants & Dorset championship.

Also in the drinks tent was Marie Tudor, who was busy selling Poole RC’s calendar. The club all took part in a series of film-themed photographs for each month with the intention to raise money for a new clubhouse. 

The calendars have generated interest, with Sir Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell signing ten copies each for the regatta raffle while actress Helen Mirren, who starred in Calendar Girls, kindly donated a limited edition framed Patrick Litchfield photograph for auction. 

For more information about purchasing the calendar (£5) and the regatta results please go to: https://poolerowingclub.co.uk/.

By Michelle Dry
Photos by Paul Witcombe

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