With the lockdown restrictions lifting and competitions resuming all over the country, our club has made its first appearance in on-water competitions in well over a decade!
In early June, Spitfire scullers James Knight and Lewin Hynes attended the British Rowing Masters Championship in Nottingham. They took part in the Masters C double-sculls event in James’s 30-year-old Sims double. After battling their way through the heats, James and Lewin ended the final with a fabulous podium position, winning 3rd place overall.
The club then decided to take things up a notch…and there’s no better way than at the emblematic Henley course, racing at Henley Masters Regatta. James and Lewin teamed up with long-time Spitfire scullers Manuel Marques and Mark Latymer to enter the Masters B coxless quad event. Not only was this going to be the first time visiting Henley for both Mark and Manuel, but it was also Mark’s very first competition! This event was shaping up to be a very special event indeed for our little Club.
Then, disaster struck! James Knight was lost to the crew due to COVID self-isolation in the week leading up to the event.
Luckily for the Club (and the rest of the crew), Leonard “Lenny” Colling from Monmouth heroically jumped into the boat as a last-minute substitute – for which we are extremely grateful. Lenny also raced with Lewin in the Masters C 8+ event, forming a composite crew with Las Vegas Institute of Sport and Monmouth RC. In the semi-final against Kingston RC earlier in the day, they battled it out in an incredibly close race, securing their spot in the finals by over a length. Our plucky scratch crew later put in a strong performance in the final against Crabtree RC, but came home with second place when Crabtree were able to open a lead of two lengths.
With the unfortunate loss of bow steersman James, Manuel was “promoted” to the role in the coxless quad event. Given his track record in steering boats during races, this could have easily ended in chaos – especially since he had only one session before the race to master the coxless steering! Despite all this, and the big wooden booms on either side of the Henley course, Manuel managed to steer smoothly and uneventfully.
Although the crew was convincingly beaten by City of Bristol, this (and the British Masters Champ event before it) was a momentous occasion for the club. Only a few years ago, Spitfire entering any competition would have been unimaginable, let alone at the iconic Henley. We owe our participation to the Ardingly Rowing Club and Falcon Racing Boats for welcoming us and lending us a beautiful (brand new) coxless quad, and we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to them.
After this spirited start to Spitfire competitions, we have a few more events planned for this summer so that even our newest members can participate and get involved! Watch this space for details!