UK Sprinting and Rowing League
Saturday saw Round II of the UKSRL Summer Series at Saunton Sands. It also saw strong onshores blowing what shape there was out of a wild new swell. BB gave it a crack and rolled. If it was a handful for the current UK and European champs, how would the rest of the fleet fare?
Unsurprisingly, the contest was moved to Instow where there was absolutely no surf but, at least, still a contest.
The turning buoys had to be dropped comparatively close to the beach to avoid obstructing the channel so a decision was made that each race would be two laps with one rower running around their flag at the end of lap one while the rest of the crew turned the boat around. It was a formula that proved to bring the best out of a location that no one wanted.
In the men’s contest the big pre-race shock had been the scratching of the Barrs. Some had tipped them for the title but the no-show probably means they are just now left to compete for the Open and European Champs. Shame.
When the racing began, BB and the Mongrels from Amsterdam soon proved themselves a class apart. If the latter can change their starts from bum-first to jump-in they will be a real handful. The Llantwit boys were their usual competitive selves while there was not much between the Probables and Porkers from Perran. Good also to see Newport Vets giving it a lash.
The Ladies event proved to be a showdown between the two Porthtowan teams with the youngsters of Black and Blue given a hard time by the near-youngsters of the Blue Rinsers. Perran weren’t far behind and if members of their crew can stop falling pregnant they may yet do some damage. A team from Bude also made a show and offered good boat speed. A bit of practice at jumping into a boat at the start will make a big difference for them. Croyde also fielded a team and their effort could not be faulted.
As the tide dropped rocks just the right size to fracture a toe began to appear as did the rusting metal pins of a shipwreck. It may actually have been safer to give Saunton a crack after all.
In the Mens golden nugget, BB took the win from the Mongrels with Llantwit third. In the Womens there was the best race of the afternoon as Kim-Marie and Lou Gapp drove themselves over about 2 miles of mud-flats in the foot race to the flags. Great commitment from both ladies and a dead heat to spice things up for the rest of the season.
There was a great night afterwards first in Braunton and then The Thatch in Croyde. It was Mladen’s last event and BB had thoughtfully put together a little something for him to remember us by – a picture of him face-planting into his seat. Enjoy Canada, Mladen. We’ll see you drekkly.
Sunday morning, of course, dawned off-shore and a solid 4-5′. BB had a boat but no sweep. Yours truly rose nobly from his death-bed to give it a lash. As we wired up the pump I wasn’t sure whether I was more concerned by the sets breaking near Lundy or the prospect of an uninvited return of Mr Rattler. As we bounced over the third set wave and my feet left the quarterdeck I discovered my hangover was gone. The boys pulled into a great wave on the way back and suddenly all remembered why we do this sport.
The Mongrels gave it a crack next and didn’t back down. As they crested one large swell I couldn’t help noting that they were racking up air miles even before they’d got to the airport.
Watergate next. Waves like Sunday’s please.
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