Newcomers and World medalists compete at the English Beach Sprint Regatta 2024

The battle for the Four Nations Beach Sprint Championships raged on at the second fixture of the series, in Bournemouth on 28 April

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Photo: Bertie Shoots

It was a blustery day in Bournemouth with waves building through the day, creating a real test of skill and character for the competitors by the afternoon finals.

The English Beach Sprint Regatta, new in 2023, and supported this year by Swift Racing, gives experienced beach sprint rowers essential early season racing practice as well as introducing the format to those who haven’t tried it before.

Commenting on the day, Olympic Pathway Manager Tom Pattichis said: “It’s always exciting when we come to the beach and this year’s Regatta was no different. The athletes gained valuable experience across some pretty tough conditions, and it was excellent to see some new faces competing. The Four Nations competitions form part of the selection process for the GB Beach Sprint team, and based on the racing we saw at the weekend we’re excited to see what the rest of the season brings.”

Under 19 Open Solos

Sol Chamberlain-Hyde of Lymington ARC dominated this event from time trials to finals – where the side-by-side racing results for the top four followed the order established in the time trials exactly.

Chamberlain-Hyde, who was a reserve for the England Beach Sprint Team last year, faced off against newcomer Madoc Gundry of Lea RC in the A Final. Both athletes boated almost simultaneously, but the Lymington sculler was the first away. Although taking a buoy wide, his race back to the beach was fairly clean – not so for Gundry, who was caught by wave and landed almost 30m away from the buzzer. His recovery was impressive, though, finishing less than two seconds behind the Lymington sculler.

The battle for bronze was won by Fergus McKeown of The King’s School Chester RC over Xavier Jebb of Christchurch RC.

Under 19 Women

Natasha Phillips of Wycliffe College BC took gold over Leah Saunders of Evesham RC in the A Final of the U19 Women’s Solos. An exciting race saw Saunders – a silver medallist at the 2023 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals – get away first although Phillips had reached her boat ahead. But Saunders then traced a twisting course back to the shore and Phillips hit the buzzer just over 12 seconds clear.

In the battle for bronze Olivia Hodgson of RGS Worcester BC recovered from starting off course to win over Grace Rhead of Liverpool Victoria RC, keeping a consistent rating of 33 strokes a minute throughout her race. Both are newcomers to the beach sprint format.

Senior Open

It was a battle of the giants in the Open Solos A Final, with Fishguard and Goodwick Jemima RC’s Jerry Owen flying off the beach ahead of Tynemouth RC’s Hal Flowerdew. Owen turned first and charted a good course back. Flowerdew had some trouble after turning but managed to catch some good surf but this wasn’t enough to stop Owen from reaching the buzzer first over 10 seconds ahead.

In the B Final, Sam O’Connor of Tynemouth RC boated ahead of Charles Cousins of Mumbles ARC, before taking a wide course heading into the second buoy. Cousins also went out wide, but recovered to turn first and stayed ahead to take the win.

Senior Women

Familiar names to the coastal scene came out to race in the Women’s Solo category, battling against some big swell and messy waves.

The A Final was set up to be a well-matched contest between World Rowing Beach Sprint Championships 2022 silver medallist Clare Jamison of Christchurch RC and Natacha Searson of Jersey RC and Tynemouth RC, who won the Women’s Solo for Jersey at the Home International in 2023. The two scullers had posted near-identical times in their quarter and semi finals. However, Searson clipped the second buoy on her way out and did not finish, leaving Jamison to take gold.

Heather Gordon of Inverness RC took bronze over 2023 World silver medallist Laura McKenzie of Glasgow University BC – another race fraught with bouncy waves.

Masters

In the Women’s Masters category, Eleanor Burke of Exeter RC went up against Bryony Jones of Llanion Warriors RC. The results repeated the time trial, with Burke coming out on top by just over four seconds.

The only entry in the Open Masters category, Reuben Frost of Mersea RC, won an exhibition race against Andrea Davies of Southsea RC, who had finished third in the Women’s time trial.

Full Side-by-Side racing results

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