Exciting racing at the inaugural British Rowing Beach Sprints

Five new national champions crowned on Sandbanks Beach, Poole

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(c) Drew Smith

The inaugural British Rowing Beach Sprints landed successfully at Sandbanks beach, Poole this weekend (11 August). The weather forecast for the day meant for challenging conditions with big waves and strong currents testing the mettle of all the rowers, with most crews getting airborne at some point over the 500m course.

Every crew started with a sprint from the beach to the sea, leaping into their boats as waves crashed around them. The boat-handlers did an amazing job to ensure all rowers got in and out to sea safely.

It was then in the hands of the rowers to navigate the slalom course out to sea for 250m, before turning around the final marker buoy and a flat-out sprint back to shore. In blustery conditions, the crews battled hard to stay on track and to make sure they landed back on dry land with the least distance to run back up the beach to dive across the line, hit the buzzer and stop the clock.

In the women’s coastal solos, a dominant row by the University of London’s Robyn Hart-Winks saw her take gold over Warwick Boat Club’s Gillian Mara, and BTC Southampton RC’s Kath Jackson-Jones who took bronze.

In a final of mixed fortune, Fishguard and Goodwick Jemima RC’s Jerry Owen took the win over Christchurch RC A’s Gian-Luc Angiolini who suffered an equipment failure, while Christchurch RC B’s Solomon Hewitt took the bronze.

In the women’s coastal doubles, Bexhill ARC’s Abigail Little and Jessica Plail took the win in style over Warwick BC’s Gillian Mara and Kate Parkinson in silver.

In the open coastal doubles, the gold was taken by Tideway Scullers School’s Gregor Maxwell and Kieran Brown, ahead of VK Slavia Praha of the Czech Republic’s Vitezslav Huja and Matej Linhart. The bronze medal was fought out between two Jersey RC crews, with Jersey RC’s B crew of Des Nevitt and Paul Coutanche taking the win and bragging rights over their clubmates, Jersey RC A.

The final event of the day was the mixed coastal doubles, who raced a slightly shorter course due to the conditions creating issues with the offshore infrastructure. The Tideway Scullers School and University of London composite of Robyn Hart-Winks and Kieran Brown took the win, beating the Tideway Scullers School and Edinburgh University BC composite of Lauren Gray and Gregor Maxwell in the final, with Fishguard and Goodwick Jemima’s Theodore Owen and Honor Bailey taking the bronze medal.

Barbara Wilson, Chair of the Organising Committee said: “It was great to bring the inaugural British Rowing Beach Sprints to beautiful Sandbanks. With the challenging weather forecast for the weekend we were pleased to be able to deliver a fun and safe event for all the competitors. It was great to see so many people come down and cheer on the rowers, as beach sprints continues to widen its fan base. I want to thank everyone who supported the first event; from the clubs and competitors to the umpires and volunteers.”

The British Rowing Beach Sprints also acted as a selection event for Great Britain’s crews to compete at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals, in Shenzhen, China, in late October. The team for this event will be announced in due course.

You can view and buy all the images from the event, online, here.

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