Bexhill Rowing Club capped a remarkable 2015 season by picking up four wins at the South Coast Championships last weekend.
The superb victory haul at Wimbleball Lake in Somerset was one more than in 2014 and included retaining the coveted Bideford Bowl for the first time in the club’s history.
The South Coast Championships is the last regatta in the season where clubs from the Coast Amateur Rowing Association (CARA - Kent and Sussex) compete against those in Hants and Dorset, as well as crews in the west of England.
The top two crews from each area in their respective categories race off against each other with the winner being crowned South Coast champions. There are also a number of ‘open’ races for other crews not in the top two.
Bexhill’s first win came from the CARA vet 50 championship crew of Dave Jones, Clive Bingham, Marc Cowling and Andy Wilson. Looking to improve on their second place finish last year, the crew led from start to finish to win the vet 50 open for the first time in the club’s history. The crew also came third in the vet 40 open.
The second win came from Ashley Cahill and Doug Holdaway, who picked up the men’s open senior pairs title, also for the first time in the club’s history. Pulling through the field after a fast start, the pair extended their lead to win by a comfortable four lengths.
Win number three came in the ladies’ J18 4+ event, with the crew of Charlie Copper, Laura Quinn, Georgina Pepper and Abbie Little showing their determination to overhaul the Shanklin crew at the 1,000m mark before pushing on to win by two lengths.
The junior/senior crew picked up a hard-fought second place, while the junior men missed out on the final by the slender margin of one foot and the men’s senior open crew came fifth in the final. Last year’s South Coast ladies’ champions had a last minute crew change and picked up sixth in the final.
In the junior events, Toby Golledge came sixth in the J14 single sculls, with Abbie Little and Charlie Copper coming third in the ladies’ J16 double sculls.
The premier event of the day was the men’s senior fours for the Bideford Bowl. The Bexhill crew of Mark Mitchell, Greg Anderson, Matt Hellier, Kieran Cahill and cox Rachel Holdaway went into the race as one of the favourites alongside last year’s runners-up Itchen Imperial from Southampton.
The Itchen crew got the better start, taking a length from Bexhill in the first 200 metres. Bexhill had to work hard to get back on level terms, which they did by the half way mark.
Coming around the bend in the lake at Wimbleball with some excellent coxing, the Bexhill crew took advantage of its lane draw to hit the front. To the cheers of the crowd, they pushed on to win by 1½ lengths and retain the Bideford Bowl.
Bexhill’s success in Somerset caps a remarkable season for the club, which last month won the CARA league title for a record 15th consecutive year.
The club - which is based on the promenade at the rear of the De La Warr Pavilion - will be holding an open day for anyone wishing to come and try some rowing on Sunday September 27 from 10am-1pm.
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