‘To race in the Beach Sprints is more than just rowing. It is something incredible’

The British Rowing Beach Sprints are coming to Sandbanks on Sunday 11 August. Alan Oldham talks to Ana Kazz who DJ’d at the 2018 Commonwealth Beach Sprints

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Diving for the line at the 2018 Commonwealth Beach Sprints (c) WEROW

As British Rowing prepares for the first-ever British Rowing Beach Sprints in Poole, Dorset on Sunday 11 August 2019, there are a growing number of voices, like Ana Kazz, who believe this exciting new format will open up the sport like never before.

“There is a lot of connection with beach culture,” says Kazz, whose background as a DJ in her native country Brazil was unexpectedly called on at last year’s Commonwealth Beach Sprints on the stunning Sandbanks Beach in Poole on Dorset’s historic Jurassic Coast. “Of course, music is part of this, offering something that connects entertainment and sport. This new way of experiencing rowing needs a DJ.”

Kazz, of course, had not intended to spend eight hours at the turntables when she signed up as a World Rowing intern; yet the unplanned gig gave her an unrivalled perspective on what makes this type of rowing truly unique.

“Some aspects are really special,” she says. “Contact with the sea, with nature is much stronger than in traditional rowing – the adventure aspect is amazing. For another thing, it is much more ‘plug and play’: you can get in a boat and start rowing even without any experience.”

Access to this type of rowing is made even easier by the shared boat pool so no one has to worry about purchasing new types of boats.

Kazz had not intended to spend eight hours at the turntables when she signed up as a World Rowing intern

On the surface, the racing distance may seem short to the seasoned rower. Once racers run their boats – either solos or doubles – into the surf, they slalom out a mere 250 metres, make a full pivot and sprint straight back to shore where the crew then sprint up the beach to the finish line. Yet the true test of endurance and wits comes for those seeking to win the event as the multi-round knock-out format require brains as well as brawn.

It is a sport that can bring all people together and blend competition and entertainment – food, drinks and of course music

The exciting possibilities of this dual nature were on full display in Kazz’s standout moment from last year’s Commonwealth Beach Sprints. “Rio, the rower from Vanuatu was amazing,” she says. “I will never forget it, the way he managed to win. It was not traditional rowing skills; it was his connection with the sea and the tide – knowing how to manage the sea – that made the difference.”

In fact, with his stunning performance, Riilio ‘Rio’ Rii had won his country’s first ever Commonwealth gold medal in any sport.

“Beach rowing is like that,” says Kazz. “You never know. You can have the best boats and the best technique, but nature can change everything.”

“When Rio won,” she adds, “I realised that beach rowing was completely different from everything else that I’ve seen. It is a sport that can bring all people together and blend competition and entertainment – food, drinks and of course music.”

As for what competitors – especially those new to offshore rowing – can expect at the 2019 British Rowing Beach Sprints, Kazz is emphatic: “You will experience a new dimension of rowing,” she says. “Rowing is part of the essence of Britain. To race in the Beach Sprints is more than just rowing. It is something incredible.”

The British Rowing Beach Sprints Championships will be used as a selection event for the 2019 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, in Shenzhen, China from 25-27 October. To view the selection policy, click here.

This article was originally published in the June July Rowing & Regatta magazine. Find out more here

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