Hants & Dorset success at South Coast Championships

Hants & Dorset ARA stole the show at this year’s South Coast Championships, winning five out of six senior championship events


Olympic champion Matt Langridge with Itchen Imperial, Bideford Bowl winners at the 2017 South Coast Championships (C) Paula Williams

The best coastal crews of the season raced at the 61st South Coast Championships on the London 2012 Olympic lake at Eton Dorney on Saturday 2nd September.

The Championships is the pinnacle to the racing season for the South Coast’s competing associations: West of England Amateur Rowing Association (WEARA), Coast Amateur Rowing Association (CARA), as well as Hants and Dorset (H&D).

Hosted by H&D, this year’s event took place in perfect conditions amidst early September sunshine, with supporters filling the banks to cheer crews across the line.

The highlight of the day saw H&D’s Itchen Imperial boat winning the Men’s Senior Fours Championship with Mark Wardell, Luke Williams, Olympic bronze medallist James Foad, Wayne Harrison and cox Owen Barnaby on board. Olympic champion Matt Langridge presented the crew with the prestigious Bideford Bowl.

The race was neck-and-neck off the start but by 500m Itchen had opened up clear water and extended their lead to two and a half lengths by the end of the 2km showdown.

There was little threat to Itchen’s row but the fight for silver between Deal A and BTC went right down to the line, with Deal A managing to squeeze their bows clear in the dying moments for CARA.

Afterwards Itchen stroke-man, Harrison, said: “We know we’ve got a good start so the plan was to get to 250 and hit rhythm. At 1250 I knew we’d won it.”

The highlight of the day saw H&D’s Itchen Imperial boat win the Men’s Senior Fours Championship

In earlier races, the Coalporters four cruised to victory in the Ladies’ Senior Fours Championship whilst BTC brought home the Men’s Junior Senior Championship in style.

Further gold for Ryde and Itchen in the Ladies’ and Men’s Junior Fours Championship made up H&D’s five wins out of the six Championship events.

The first Championship race of the day, the Men’s Masters, was won by CARA’s Folkestone who fought off tough competition from Poole.

Other highlights included the Men’s Novice Four final where both the Coalporters A and B boats led off the start until Worthing and Southsea pushed through to finish on the podium behind winners Coalporters A.

The crowds were treated to some enthralling races with the tightest of the day coming in the J16 boys’ double sculls, which had to be re-run after a dead heat! Dartmouth A finally managed to clinch victory over Bournemouth in the second race.

The Ladies’ Masters Open was also extremely close with Southampton challenging eventual winners, Christchurch, right down to the line. Christchurch’s Lucy Hart recalled: “Every time we got ahead, Southampton did another push and came back level.”

Organising Secretary Pete Stadden was delighted with the sunny conditions and spoke of the “two and a bit years of planning to make it happen”. Stadden thanked the volunteers, crews, umpires and officials for making the day such a success.

You can check the full results here 

Report by Toby Bryant