Record entry at Bideford regatta

Joseph Bulmer

IT has been a busy period for local rowers, with two West of England championship regattas in three days bringing the curtain down on the season.

Bideford Reds and Blues crews were in action at the Port of Dartmouth Regatta on Thursday, followed by their concluding home regatta on the Torridge on Saturday.

The Bideford event attracted a record entry and included visitors from Bexhill, Minerva Bath and City of Bristol Rowing Clubs.

Although still struggling to make the final big breakthrough with their large squad of rowers, the Reds did pick up two well earned victories at Bideford and also the Billy Little Cup for the Bideford club securing the most points during the day’s racing.

It was a tight call, with just two points separating the two local clubs, with the Reds picking up the trophy with 29 points, through their two first places, nine seconds and five third places.

Senior A single sculler Lee Dancer was in top form to beat a quality field in the premier sculling race of the day, while the club’s other victory came through the efforts of their veterans four, who just overcame the challenge of their rivals from the Blues.

At Dartmouth the Reds picked up four race wins via their men’s Novice and Junior 16 fours, the girls Junior 14 quad, plus single sculler Ali Peake, who dead heated with his rival from the Blues, Dave Byrnes.

Top performance of the day, however, came in the men’s Junior 16 race, where the Reds crew of Drew MacKenzie, Adam Crowther, Alex Ferriday and Miles Lemer won for only the second time this season, also beating the championship winning crew from Dart Totnes for the first time.

Also picking a first places were the men’s Novice four of Luis Wilkins, Karl Rowland, Adrian Prust and Ricky Syvret and the girls Junior 14 quad of Kirsty Snow, Charlotte Berry, Libbie Willis and Abbie Lawson..

The Blues’ Women’s J18 Four Hannah and Jessica Myers, Alice Jackson and Annie Cook set the club off to a good start at Bideford beating the Plymouth crew who had previously beaten them at Dartmouth two days earlier.

Freya Heddinson and Kat Crosslay continued the success in the Women’s J15 Single Sculls, with Kat winning despite illness which had kept her away from Dartmouth Regatta and Freya taking second place.

Sculler Dave Byrnes came fourth in the Men’s Handicap Vet Sculls, finding it hard going in the outside berth and Annie Cook gained a creditable second place in the Ladies Novice race despite catching a crab and getting caught in some boat wash. Annie then teamed up with Alice Jackson in the Woman’s J18 Double Scull and gained victory ahead of the much-fancied Totnes double.

Alice continued her success by taking the Woman’s J18 Sculls, beating her England team mate Emma Reiser into second place.

The Blues Ladies Senior C Four of Megan Harty, Zoe Robertson, Hannah and Jessica Myers with cox Tina Robertson also won, to clinch the runner’s up spot in the West of England Championship. This finished off a great season, which they had started as a Novice crew.

There were second places for the men’s J16 Quad and the Men’s Veteran Four and thirds for Zoe Robertson in the Woman’s J16 Sculls and for the Blues’ Mixed Senior C Four and Mixed Novice Four.

At Dartmouth two days earlier the top Blues’ performance of the day went to the Men’s Veteran Four of Colin and Neil Pennington, Nigel Cann and Alistair Peake with cox Tom Loka. They had to give a 12 second handicap against Teign Scullers and Shoreham from the Sussex coast, but chased them down to win by a length and half.

There were second places for the Men’s J18 Coxed Four of Jack Harty, Milo George, Oli Roberts-Key and Owen Godwin, the Woman’s J18 Four of Hannah and Jessica Myers, Annie Cook and Megan Harty and Women’s J18 Scull Alice Jackson, who lost out only to fellow England sculler Emma Reiser from Totnes and for Annie Cook and Alice Jackson in the Woman’s J18 Double.

Sculler Dave Byrnes took third in the Men’s Veteran Handicap Sculls and there was also third for the Men’s J16 Quad and Mixed Senior C Four.