Archive for June, 2010

Grandad’s Runners Sweep All Before Them

Saunton Sands on the beautiful north Devon coast played host to the second round of the Summer Series on Saturday. The weather was again kind and although a weak 1′ swell was the best Mother Ocean could produce, after last year’s gale conditions, no-one complained.

The Barracudas have been ever-present for the last few seasons but other commitments that day meant they were unable to field a crew. It offered Blue Bali an opportunity to tale a stranglehold on the men’s title they didn’t need to hear twice. Although other crews tried to step up, notably Llantwit and Twickenham, the perennial champs from Porthtowan were simply too good. They won each of their heats with something to spare.

In the ladies half of the competition, Bude Runnners have set the pace for the season to date and they appeared to have found an extra gear this time round. In heat one, Bude powered out through the surf with Pure Blue and Perran’s Raiders and Panthers alongside. Once out, however, the Runners turned the screw and rowed away from everyone.

A stellar battle developed behind them with the Panthers, Raiders and Pure Blue all catching the same wave to the beach. It came down to the foot race with Towan’s ladies touching just ahead of the two Perran crews. Unfounded rumour has it that the Panther’s sweep was so frustrated he tore the door off Dan Berriman’s wagon in a fit of pique.

In the “golden nugget” final, Blue Bali did the decent thing by deciding to give everyone else a chance. One of their crew, who will remain nameless, opted to incorporate a face-plant into his start routine. It didn’t make any difference, Blue Bali turning first at the cans, and romping home. It would obviously be a cruel and insensitive thing to include the photos of the new start routine in the images from the event.

The Runners meanwhile were clucking around the club’s founder Phil (not Fanny) Martin who received news that he had become a Grandad during the course of the event. Congrats Phil. When the Runners then waltzed away from the rest of the fleet in the ladies final it meant the taverns in Bude were in for a hammering that night.

Watergate awaits. Time to find the helmets?

Shyman meets shygirl: Party On

Saturday’s opening round of the Summer Series, held at Porthcawl in the sunshine and with 2-3’ surf, was a classic mixture of the old and the new. The old was represented by the established surf life saving clubs, Porthtowan, Llantwit, Perran and Bude while the new(ish) upstarts were led by Bournemouth, Croyde and Molesey.

The opening round in the Men’s division saw wins for Blue Bali and Bude Barracudas (aka City of Bristol RC.) The ‘Cudas made an early statement in the fashion stakes radiant in rashies so bright they had to be measured with a Geiger counter: imagine Joseph’s multi-coloured coat on acid.

The two favourites for the title were made to work for their wins. Llantwit had two highly competitive boats and Molesey kept everyone honest. Word on the street is that the latter intend putting out a crew in every round. If so, given the extra time they will enjoy in the surf, expect them to be taking heat wins by season’s end.

Round two saw Bali and the Barracudas go head-to-head with last year’s champs (Bali) making a loud statement that they will not give up their title without a fight by coming home first. Llantwit Alligators kept the home support happy with a solid win in the other heat.

Bali and the ‘Cudas again won their respective heats in round three but the golden nugget final witnessed the best men’s race of the day. Five of the six boats were in the mix at the turn and it all came down to the final sprint. The Barr’s took line honours and Bali squeaked past Molesey but if the latter’s bow man had been released earlier into his sprint it could have been really interesting.

In the Women’s event, major kudos needs to go to Molesey for bringing a team. It’s been something of a mystery why flat-water femmes have been more reluctant than their male counterparts in seasons past to have a lash – let’s hope that where Molesey have led, others are now persuaded to follow.

Bude Runners followed up their massively impressive victory in May’s Truro River Race with a win in the opening heat. Their settled crew took advantage of new faces in both Perranporth’s Raiders and Porthtowan’s Pure Blue.

Second time around, however, Blue had found their rhythm and came home with the win.

It was the third heat that contained all the drama. The Runners enjoyed a narrow lead as they raced back to the shore only to get stuck in dead water as Blue found a small runner and surged past the leaders. Kim-Marie Clothier jumped out first but stumbled in a hole and took a soaking. To her credit she was able to regain her footing and get back in the foot-race just as Sue Roper from the Runners loomed at her shoulder. They touched the flags and it looked too close to call. So it proved, the line judges declaring a dead-heat. If the rest of the season is like that the neutrals are in for a ball.

The golden nugget final was a race too far for Blue as the Runners superior fitness saw them take the bonus point. Who knows how much that will be worth come Bournemouth.

The serious racing done (apologies to the novice sweeps) the rowers could get on with the equally serious task of partying. The past few seasons Llantwit have done UKSRL proud with the party their club hosts and so it proved yet again. An excellent BBQ, a keg of beer, a live band and some DJs all ensured sore heads to go with aching limbs in the morning.

As the night deepened a final boat race was won – yet again – by Porthtowan. Several members of their team sported cutting edge sunglasses bought for £3.00 that very afternoon from a market stall overlooking the beach which probably represented a profit of about £2.95 per pair. I wouldn’t say they were gaudy but if the ‘Cudas had worn them in their rashies, permanent damage to your eyesight would have resulted.

Just to take a final title, the Towan divas deservedly won the dance crown of the night in a performance that would have shamed the finalists on BGT. The first prize – a roll of duct tape – opened up some interesting possibilities but shyness prevents their mention here.

And so it’s off to Saunton in a fortnight to do it all again. Bring it on.


With the season under way I’ m getting loads of requests for images which is great. UKSRL, however, needs to generate some funds so we can, for example, pay the deposit for a meal after the European Champs which we couldn’t afford last year. So, from now on, images will be available at the following rates:

For club/team sponsors or local publicity – Free of charge
1 Image £5
3 Images £10
More than 3 images, contact me.

All monies will go to UKSRL. Cheques in its favour or cash (to me or Pete Gaisford) at the following event.

Getting to Know You

Round I of the Summer Series looms. In a break with tradition the weather Gods may yet produce warmth (well, non-monsoon conditions anyway) and, whisper it quietly, maybe, even… surf.

What we will most assuredly get at Porthcawl is a warm welcome, certainly if the last two seasons are anything to go by – those of you who can remember drinking the grog-y-vog weren’t trying hard enough.

One of the moving forces behind the Llantwit boys is Mike Lord. There’s some well-informed money on them being the dark horses for the season – last year’s huge improvement did not go unnoticed.

For those of you who don’t know Mike, here’s his profile.

Name : Mike Lord

Crew/seat : Llantwit Major Crocodiles Sweep and general Sweep for hire when it comes to the ladies teams.

Rowing Background : I have been a qualified Lifo since the age of 14 and it was a natural progression to move to boats when I got too old to compete as an individual. I am a self taught sweep – I originally jumped into a surf boat in the Viareggio surf lifesaving champs in Italy back in 2002 ??? I met an Australian sweep only known to me this day by the name of BRUNO – He swept the Dutch female team – To this day…I wonder why he volunteered ??? He was keen as mustard and full of advice and that planted the seed! The Following year our surf club had found the only surf boat in Wales and purchased it. An entire winter of refurb (yes it was that bad) and thousands of man hours and time away from the partners and other commitments meant she was named “Quality Time.”

As a team and good group of mates – we never looked back.

People often ask why I don’t row – the answer is : I have a limited movement in my right knee and cannot perform a full stroke. The quarter bars at the rear of the boat are just enough of a support to allow me to stand and perform my role as sweep.

Day Job : I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you!

Favorite beach : They’re all special in some way, I have good memories from most. I guess the favorite one will be when we win a series!

Can’t live without : My Alaskan Malamute, Denzil – he comes to most places with me. Some of the crew may also say that I can’t live without “Jack Daniels”

If I ran the world : Surf Rowers would be paid….Better than Premiership Footballers !

Most embarrasing moment : Breaking a very old boat in Perranporth with a novice crew. Ending up a mile off shore and having to be rescued by the RNLI. Thats not bad I hear you say……..Well then I realised that they filmed the lot and threatened to put it on the TV series “Beach Rescue”

Favorite memory : Again far too many to single one out – But that night that I spent with the Bristol Beavers in the Watering Hole and introduced them to the Welsh way of drinking was fun….I even think that Pete Gaisford ended up in the mosh pit at the end of the night (No surprise there – Ed)

See y’all Saturday.

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