Big weekend for rowing with two regattas and Heritage sprints.

Bideford Heritage Day saw the first ever gig racing events in Bideford, with teams from Torridge, Barnstaple, Bideford, Clovelly and two from Appledore all competing in mulitple categories.

In the men’s race, Appledore’s Verbena boat was the first across the line, winning comfortably from Torridge and Barnstaple. The women’s race saw the same three teams taking the podium places, but this time it was Torridge who powered clear to win by three boat lengths. The junior race was run between Clovelly and Torridge, with the former holding on for the win, before the vets hit the water for the final race of the day.

Local teams were also involved in two regattas over the weekend, at Appledore and Wimbleball. Torridge ladies picked up at Appledore where they left off in Bideford, winning the ladies B and A races by an impressive 8 boat lengths. The ladies vets also led their race and would have won by a considerable margin over their local rivals Ilfracombe, but they were disqualified.

Torridge’s men also gave strong performances by finishing in the top 3 in all races against 11 crews from Devon, Cornwall and Avon.

In one of the day’s most thrilling races, their juniors clinched a close victory over Barnstaple in the U14 race by just a few inches. Both junior crews then continued to take part in the U16 race where they produced strong performances against tough opposition.

Torridge chairman Adrian Bryant said: “it’s been a fantastic regatta for all Torridge rowers with outstanding results, the club is going from strength to strength which is as a result of everyones hardwork and commitment.”

Conditions were just about ideal at the third West of England Championship Regatta of the season that was held at the impressive Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor.

For the Bideford Reds club it was again the clubs Masters and the impressive bunch of juniors who took the honours, recording eight wins during the regatta. Top performer was veteran rower David Byrnes who picked up three wins.

Such is the growth of interest from juniors in the sport that for the first time races are being held for Junior 13 and 12 age categories, which allowed the latest intake of youngsters at Bideford to take full advantage and record Junior 13 class victories in the fours, doubles and also in a single scull.

It was the Reds B crew of Kayla Johnson, Aaron Lott, Nathan Richards and Jude Brittle who secured top spot in the quad four, whilst James Jordan and Jamie Norton took the honours in the double and Alex Dualibi-Wilson in the single.

The Junior 14 quad of Georgia Gibbons, Aaron Lott, Nathan Richards and Toby Ainger also came home in first place, while the Reds ladies Junior 16 four of Abby Jones, Libbie Wilson, Jess Cox and Hannah Vincent recorded their third straight win of the season by edging home just in front of their rivals from the Blues to open up a 4 point lead in this race category.

That result summed up the Blues’ day, with many of their crews coming home in second place. They had crews just missing out on the win in the mixed novice four, junior 16, mens novice four, ladies novice quad, novice double, ladies junior 16 quad and mens novice double.

For more photos from the Heritage day sprints, see the gallery (right).