The British Rowing Beach Sprint Championships: A look back in pictures
A full range of tidal conditions greeted competitors over two days of nail-biting, adrenaline-fueled racing in Exmouth, Devon from 29-30 July
Racing for the British Rowing Beach Sprint Championships kicked off on Saturday afternoon with a series of processional time trials whittling down each category to only eight crews for Sunday’s knockout rounds. For those newer to the format the waves posed a challenge – slipped seats and caught crabs were set to a thumping soundtrack, combined with spirited commentary from international rowers Sophie Paine and Jess Leyden.
In contrast, conditions were almost glassy for the coastal open solo knock outs, with no big waves to set the long-time coastal competitors apart from those with less experience in the surf. Two clean wins for 2022 GB Beach Sprint Teammates Jerry Owen (Fishguard and Goodwick Jemima RC) and Charles Cousins (Rob Roy BC) in their respective quarter and semi finals set them against each other in the A Final, where Charles powered straight through the near-flat water to a victory. Gregor Hall of Stirling RC and Hal Flowerdew of Tynemouth RC faced off in the B Final, with Gregor coming out victorious, sealing off a season of medals in the Welsh, English and Scottish sprint regattas.
In the junior category, The King’s School Canterbury BC’s Bear Cochrane had a brilliant run, taking bronze ahead of McKeown from The King’s School Chester BC. In the A Final it was Hector Harvey of Radley College BC who hit the buzzer just 2.4 seconds ahead of Ben Snoxall from Reading RC.
The wind picked up in time for the women to take to the water, beginning with the senior rowers. Jersey RC showed their strong coastal pedigree by fielding the eventual gold medalist Natacha Searson, who took gold ahead of Leander Club’s Rosa Thomson in silver. Newcomers to the format and The Boat Races alumni Rosa Millard and Ruth Siddorn battled against the rising waves for bronze, with the Cambridge University BC sculler winning out over the 2016 Womens’ Boat Race winner from OUWBC, who was racing for Upper Thames RC.
It was a win for GB Beach Sprint sculler Evelyn Pakule of Lea RC after a stunning run in the coastal women’s U19 solos A Final, where a well-timed push from her boat handlers sailed her over the breakers, returning to the beach to press the buzzer in an impressive 02:51.50. Izzy Lancaster, who raced again in the coastal mixed U19 doubles, took silver, with Leah Saunders of Evesham RC in bronze.
The doubles were up next, where the composite of Laura McKenzie from Leander Club and Sam Scrimgeour from Glasgow RC showed their class with smooth entrances, measured sprints and a brilliant victory summersault from McKenzie as they clinched gold ahead of Ruth Siddorn and Charles Cousins. St Andrews University BC’s B crew of Aidan Graham and Elizabeth Adlam took a bronze medal ahead of the Jersey B crew of Gary Briggs and Sarah Earles in the B Final.
Three crews raced in the U19 doubles, with time trial winner’s Exeter RC’s Summer Harlow and City of Bristol RC’s Jonathan Martini facing off against the winner of the semi final. Bradford ARC’s Izzy Lancaster won her second silver medal of the day alongside Royal Grammar School Lancaster BC’s Joshua Port.
Speaking on the competition, Jess Leyden said: “The resilience of the athletes is just incredible. You have all the challenges and tactics of flat water rowing with the added complexities of mad conditions that change on a sixpence, so for them to keep powering through is amazing.”