3 wins for England as Scotland wins overall at inaugural HIR Beach Sprints
The eight-strong England team won three of the six events and came third in another, finishing just behind Scotland for the overall trophy
Beach Sprints is known as the mountain biking of rowing. It’s high adrenalin, super fun and a great spectator sport as all the entertainment takes place close to and on the beach.
From the start line on the beach, athletes sprint to their boat, jump in, slalom out to sea round marker buoys for 250m, turn 180° around a final buoy, sprint straight back, jump out of the boat and sprint back up the beach to the finish line to touch a marker or buzzer. First to touch the marker wins!
The inaugural beach sprints Home International Regatta for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland took place in St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland on 20 August, 2022. All four teams – each comprising four senior and four junior scullers – were super excited to be competing in this historic pathway event which will set the standard for years to come.
Women’s coastal solo (WC1x)
Clare Jamison (Christchurch RC)
Men’s coastal solo (MC1x)
Gian-Luc Angiolini (Christchurch RC) – a late substitution for an injured Charles Cousins (Rob Roy BC)
Mixed coastal double (MixC2x)
Gian-Luc Angiolini (Christchurch RC) and
Kath Coleman-Jones (BTC (Southampton) RC)
U19 Women’s coastal solo (JWC1x)
Scarlett Dewar (Agecroft RC)
U19 Men’s coastal solo (JMC1x)
Oliver Robertson (Newark RC)
U19 Mixed coastal double (JMixC2x)
Tommy Fuller (Exeter RC) and Evelyn Pakule (Lea RC)
Team Manager: Lucy Hart
Lead Coach: Laura Meridew
Beach Co-ordinator: Bekki Bradley
Coaches: Yewande Adesida, Ashley Cowley and David Lister
Umpires: Ben Helm, Judith Packer
HIR General Management Committee Chair: Eira Parry
1. Scotland (18 points)
2. England (16 points)
3. Ireland (15 points)
4. Wales (11 points)
England won three of the six events with Scotland taking two and Ireland one. Five points were awarded for each first place, three for second and one for third.
Team manager’s report
The junior mixed double had looked really good in the Thursday and Friday training sessions, having only even met each other on arrival in St Andrews. They lived up to all expectations by comfortably winning the processional time trial which seeded them into the semi-final against the fourth-places Welsh crew, which they cruised through. The other semi-final between the second- and third-placed teams proved to be the closest race of the day with a photo finish showing the Irish hand touching the finish marker whilst the Scottish hand hovered fractionally above it being the decider and photo of the day.
This set up an Ireland-England final. Both crews were closely matched through the slalom and out to the turning buoy, after which Tommy and Evelyn showed their strength and reserve to pull away. Finally, a swift exit from the boat and sprint up the beach by Tommy secured the win.
The women’s solo event had a high calibre entry boasting Laura McKenzie for Scotland, the Scottish Champion and time trial winner from August’s GB Team Trials; Monika Dukarska of Ireland, 2020 Tokyo Olympian; and Bryony Jones of Wales, 2021 Offshore Enduro British Champion.
The results of the time trial were England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, putting Clare and Bryony together in one semi-final with Laura and Monika in the other. Clare eased through her race while Laura sneaked ahead in hers to beat Monika and set up an eagerly anticipated final between the GB trialists from England and Scotland. There was very little in it on the run out, the launch and the slalom, and both crews came out of the turn together. However, Clare then gained a slight advantage on the sprint back, which she held on the exit and the sprint up the beach to claim the victory.
Scarlett came second in the women’s junior solo time trial, which mean she faced the third-placed Scottish sculler in her semi-final. After leading comfortably to the 180° degree turn, she underestimated the wind direction and understeered around the turn. This took her onto on a direct line for the Scottish sculler! Although exciting for the crowd, the team were on tenterhooks whilst the boat handlers shouted ‘Left’ to alert Scarlett to the need for a course redirection. She regained her course and showed her strength to power into the beach ahead, sprint for the line and claim her place in the A final.
A quick reset and debrief from coach, David Lister, and Scarlett was back on the water to compete against the sculler from Wales. Scarlett led this from the very start. Learning from her steering in the semi-final, she steered the perfect course and comfortably sprinted up the beach to claim her win.
In the men’s junior solo, Oliver Robertson won the B Final, beating the sculler from Wales by a resounding eight seconds.
The mixed double and men’s solo, both light crews compared with their opposition, found the sprint back from the turn a challenge into the headwind. Their solid and credible performances saw them finish in fourth place in both events.
“There’s only one way to describe Beach Sprints…’Cool”’ – One of the speakers at the HIR dinner
“I had so, so much fun” – Clare Jamison, England women’s solo
“Our athletes made history by being the first England Team at the inaugural Home International Regatta Beach Sprints,” said Team Manager Lucy Hart. “As a total of eight athletes they were a complete team, mentoring each other, sharing technique and race tips and celebrating each others achievements. It’s what Beach Sprints is all about; max athleticism and agility, sprinting, racing, turning and hitting the finish line all with the precision and training expected at international level whilst remembering the sheer enjoyment of being on a beach in sunny Scotland and the excitement of racing each and the elements.”
Want to see more beach sprint racing? The World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals take place in Saundersfoot, Wales from 14-16 October 2022. Find out more here.