Bexhill Rowing Club capped another successful coastal season with glory at the South Coast Championships on Saturday.
Just a few weeks on from winning the Coast Amateur Rowing Association (CARA) league title for a record-breaking 17th consecutive year, Bexhill won two races in the prestigious South Coast event at 2012 Olympics venue Dorney Lake.
The South Coast Championships pitch all the clubs along the south coast from Bideford to Herne Bay against each other over a full 2,000m course with championship events for the top two crews in each category and open races for all the other competitors.
Bexhill remain one of the most successful clubs at the championships, and they fielded crews across the spectrum from junior 16 quad and novices right up to men’s and ladies’ senior crews.
The men’s senior four of Mark Mitchell, Greg Anderson, Dan Renner, Doug Holdaway and cox Laura Quinn retained the open championship title.
The other crews stayed with them over the first minute of the race, but Bexhill managed to creep into a slight lead by the 500m mark. They settled into their rhythm and pulled away to a comfortable lead by halfway before maintaining the pace to win by 12 seconds.
Bexhill also triumphed in the penultimate race of the day, the veteran masters 40 event, via the crew of Mitchell, Clive Bingham, Chris Mizen, Matt Mitchell and cox Rachel Holdaway.
The crew led off the start, but could only open up the smallest of leads with Poole chasing them to the halfway mark. Bexhill had to dig deep for the remaining 1,000m and managed to win by six seconds.
The success didn’t end there. After a tussle in their heat, the men’s junior four of Martyn Matt, Tim Rumary, Jack Cox and Will Clifford managed a very creditable second in the final.
The veteran 50 crew of Steve Hopkins, Mark Cowling, Bingham and Steve Hopkins secured third place in a race containing some fast crews.
The ladies’ novice crew of Annabel Laver, Hannah Heggie, Chloe Upton and Mollie Granson fought hard in their heat to scrape through to the final, but were unable to finish in the top three.
The junior boys’ quad of Elliot Haynes, Edgar Lowe, Sam Mitchell and Harry Rumary finished a respectable fifth, and were the only crew in the junior section of the regatta.
Those results enabled Bexhill Rowing Club to win the grand aggregate prize for the top club in the open events.
This success has come at a price for the club, however. With wear and tear on the equipment at an all-time high and with new junior members joining, the cost of maintaining the equipment for their use is having to be funded out of savings for new equipment.
The club is looking for help in the form of volunteers and sponsors for the next few years so that it can maintain the facilities for the future rowers.
Anyone interested in supporting the club is welcome to come along on a Tuesday or Thursday evening from 6-8pm or a Sunday from 10.30am-12noon and talk to any of the senior members.