On the 19th of August, we once again travelled up the A2 for the Danson Dashes 2023. Special thanks to our resident legend Mr Mark Brice for towing our trailer on the day, we’d be lost without you.
We had high hopes that the weather would hold out, as we had missed out on racing at the beloved Sudbury Regatta earlier this month, so this was effectively Spitfire’s first regatta of the year. We were pleased to be greeted with a sunny day and a team raring to go.
Our first race of the day saw our very recent Learn to Row graduate Scott McCabe undertake his first ever rowing race in a mixed double scull with our Vice Captain Sarah Fry. A brilliant effort put in by Scott, and hats off for being brave and getting out there! Scott also made the quote of the day finely stating towards the end of the regatta “I just want a medal”. Can’t wait to see you in your next race Scott!
Shortly after, the crew of Ed Thomas, Mark Brice, Joe Philips and Lewin Hynes made their way onto the landing stage, to race in the open coxed quad event. Coxing them (for the very first time doing so in a race environment) was Sam Brice, expertly steering the crew down the course, despite the strong crosswind felt across the rowing course. The crew fought a strong start from the home team of Gravesend RC, but sadly ran out of water before being able to respond properly.
Part of the quad crew then divided itself into the open double sculls quarter-finals; captain Manuel “Manny” Marques joined Mark Brice in a qualifier against Curlew, with Lewin and Joe racing immediately after against Maidstone. The Curlew crew had a very fast start, making it difficult for Manny and Mark to catch them; Joe and Lewin faced a mechanical fault on one of Joe’s gates right at the start of the race, which left them momentarily stranded; they were still able to recover some distance, only losing the qualifier by a boat length.
Our (mostly) novice crew of Scott McCabe, Wendy Aston, Michèle Thomas and Mark Brice, coxed by Manny then went on to race Poplar Blackwall & District Rowing Club in the mixed coxed quad event. Despite some balance problems (partly caused by the strong winds that relentlessly blew across the course), the crew did well to finish the race, especially since it was Wendy and Scott’s racing debut in this boat category.
Vice captain Sarah had her first outing in a while, putting up a fight in the women’s single scull, with a solid start off the blocks and a strong crosswind she was merely beaten in her semi final by a sculler from the host club, who went on to win the event. As soon as Sarah got back to the landing stage, it was time for the ladies to head out into their 4+ which featured a debut in river rowing for Melissa Linton and back up from Michele Thomas and Wendy Aston, again coxed by Manny.
Ed also had his first single sculling race in several years, taking much beloved club boat Iris out for a spin in the windy and choppy course, racing against Maidstone’s George Field in the open single sculls qualifier. Even if he failed to progress to the next round, the sculling was smooth and confident – well done Ed!
Although we didn’t receive any trophies this year, our open coxed four, crewed by Ed, Manny, Joe and Lewin, and coxed by Sarah Fry put in a valiant effort to reach the final, just beaten by a well drilled crew from Bewl Bridge.
We would like to thank Gravesend Rowing Club and Erith Rowing Club for again organising a fantastic event. We thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back again next year, hopefully to take some trophies home!