Once again an enthusiastic contingent of Shoreham rowers headed west along the coast to Southampton, for the annual coastal fours head down the River Itchen. And while the weather provided the drama last year, this year the day was doomed to descend into confusion and disqualifications, despite the glorious weather.
First down the course were the Junior Men’s crew of James Mouland, James Tilley, Mark Swarbrick and Toby Strevens. As a scratch four the boys had a relaxed attitude to their race, and a creative swapping of sides and seats as they boated meant it wasn’t necessarily going to be the most successful 5km of their lives. And just as they neared the start line disaster struck, the wheel of James T’s seat sheared off, making his race potentially very difficult. In an act of what can only be described as true selfless heroism, and with a cry of “you probably need this more than me” bowman Toby whipped off his functioning seat, swapping it for James’ 3 wheeled one. Toby – you are an inspiration to us all (or you didn’t want to have to push too hard down the course…one of the two). The resulting 8th place (out of 8) was perhaps then unsurprising – but well done to the boys for not giving up on the race despite the difficult circumstances.
Next up were the Senior Ladies crew of Sarah Bareham, Sally Hills, Rachel Povey & Becky Povey, coxed in her very first race by Isobel Tugwell. After a somewhat confused start (no-one said go, so they weren’t sure they weren’t sure they’d crossed the start line) the girls had a solid row in their first race as a four. Despite a lack of boat time as a crew they crossed the finish line in second place, just 10 seconds behind a very slick-looking Coalporters crew (well done them). And were promptly disqualified. As were Coalies. So Southampton took the win by default, despite being a whole minute slower down the course than the first two crews. Frustratingly reasons for the disqualification seem to be confused, and it seems we’ll never know why it happened. However, their time was an encouraging start to the 2014 season and despite the confusion a great start to Isobel’s coxing career.
The final crew down the course were the Shoreham Junior Ladies four of Charlotte Utting, Charlotte Pigg, Roxanne Addison and Harriet Chavasse. The girls also had a solid row, and as they came under the third bridge, halfway down the course, were gaining steadily on the crews in front. With the fastest crew in their category, BTC, disqualified it was announced at prize-giving that Shoreham had rowed home to a second place, with Southampton taking the win. However, a look at the results sheet today shows them to have the same time! So a great joint-win for the girls and a real confidence boost for the season ahead. It was a good test of their recent training sessions against five Hants & Dorset ARA Junior crews, and gives the girls additional inspiration to work hard in the weeks leading up to the coastal season.
Ultimately a successful yet unsuccessful day for Shoreham. It’s a real shame for all the participants that results and disqualifications across all categories and across all clubs seem to be so confused. Thanks to Southampton Rowing Club for hosting the event, and to all who gave up their time to make it happen. We look forward to racing again next year without any hiccups.