Recap: asensei British Rowing Virtual Championships 2021

Second-ever Virtual Championships took a place this weekend and it saw almost 1,000 indoor rowers compete side by side


One of the main themes to emerge from lockdown was that of unity. The ability to connect the world through the use of technology and consequently, we saw the birth of the British Rowing Virtual Championships. The word has come together for all sorts of reasons since March last year and once again the spirit of competition was back for the second edition of the British Rowing Virtual Championships.

Nearly 700 competitors from 32 countries took part in 41 races, totalling nearly 1000 race entries, which provisionally saw seven World records broken, six British records smashed, and 51 new Virtual Championship records set.

The first race of the day saw the Masters’ men shine. Gold in the M50-54 2000m went overseas as Leif Gunleifsen of Norway took first place in a nail biting finish that saw Great Britain’s Scott Jenkins finish second with just 0.2s separating the two athletes. The Masters continued to produce some of the best racing of the day with a silver medal shared in the W55-59 500m between Avril Magee and Bénédicte Roze. The short, action packed 500m racing continued to provide the best of the action as Muhammad Shahzad took silver and Andy Paulson the bronze in the M60-64 event, won by Nick Cowan.

In the blue riband events, the Open 2000m, it was Graham Ord and Lindsay Turpin who came away with the top spots. However, the fastest time of the day came from Stuart Elvin, racing for the British Army, in a time of 6:09.7. On the Women’s side, it was Norway’s Lene Beisland who was the fastest over 2000m in a time of 7:08.7 Both these times came in the 30-39 and 40-49 events respectively.

One of the standout performances came from Rachel Williamson in the IAR3 4 Minute event. Williamson broke her own British and World record by 15 metres as she stormed to victory.

The virtual championships also saw the debuts for the ‘super sprints’ over 100m. This racing was epic. America’s Matthew Snare and Tyson Whitt won the Open and Lightweight events respectively, both crossing the line in a rapid 14.6s. On the Women’s side, Vár Guriardóttir Hansen from the Faroe Island stole the honours in the Open event in just 16.5s whilst Italy’s Laura Ghioldi took gold in the Lightweight race.

As ever, these Virtual Events attract a large entry of juniors not just from GB but also overseas. This time, it was Nia Bullen of Carmarthen Rowing Club who won the Sixth Form Girls 2000m and Murray Oliver from StrengthLab CrossFit took the gold medal in the boys event. In the shorter 500m races Torur Paulason and Millie Hurrell came away with top spots.

Finally, it’s worth noting the trio of medals that Caroline Buckle won across the day. Taking gold in the PR2 100m, 1min and 2000m events.

“With events continuously being cancelled or postponed here in New Zealand and around the world, us indoor rowers really don’t know much how lucky we are.” – commented Nicola Goss, indoor rower from New Zealand who raced in the women’s 30-39 2000m event.

As always, these events would not be possible without the huge number of volunteers that give up their time for a sport they love. All results from Saturday are available here.

Enjoyed BRVC? Then you’re going to love the British Rowing Indoor Championships later in the year! More information to come soon.

As well as the live event we also had over 100 entries from 10 different countries into the LEAGUE version of the Virtuals which allowed for participants to race in their own time and on a variety of different machines. The entrants covered a massive total of 123,671 metres when taking part across the 6 different race distances.