On Saturday 7th May, Spitfire held what was probably the first racing event at the boathouse in the past 5 years. Our club invited the University of Kent RC rowers and their alumni to take part in a short head race, open to coxed fours.
Upon arrival, the participants (from both UKRC and Spitfire) were all randomly drawn into several crews, who then raced each other over a short 650-metre course. In addition to the actual racing, we also held a short skills competition, in which crews were asked to spin their coxed fours as quickly as possible. First to three spins was the winner, which ended up being very entertaining to watch. ?
Food and drink was on offer and in plentiful supply, courtesy of our talented volunteer bakers, Sarah and Sally. The cake stand was particularly popular, with hot soup, a variety of cakes, and even vegan options!
The day ended up with the unveiling of a memorial plaque honouring Mike Kennedy, who was Director of Rowing of UKRC for many years, in addition to running Spitfire and the Plucks Gutter boathouse. The plaque was unveiled by Lynne Kennedy, Mike’s widow and an honorary member of Spitfire.
Overall, we had a brilliant time, and we thank UKRC for supporting and attending the event, especially Ewan, Will and Sasha. Special thanks should go to our team of volunteers, without whom the event would have not been possible: James, Jess, Bricey, Sam, Manny, George, Tom, Sarah, Keith, and our photographer for the day, Julien. And a big cheer to Pete for donating a lovely prize for the raffle! ?
As the club grows from strength to strength, we will aim to run a “proper” head race at Plucks Gutter in the foreseeable future. Watch this space… ?
Spitfire kick-started the 2022 season at the Head of the Adur 2022, organised by Shoreham Rowing Club. This event, which had not been run since 2018 due to a combination of bad weather and Covid restrictions, is normally well-attended by the coastal rowing clubs, with river clubs such as ours being equally welcome (even if the slightly choppy conditions made it for some challenging rowing in river boats).
Manny, Mark L, Bricey and Jon G made their way down to Shoreham, racing in three crews across both divisions, one coxless quad and two doubles; additionally, Sarah joined two composite crews with Herne Bay and Shoreham rowers, rowing in both novice men’s fours and novice ladies’ fours. Vice-captain George came along too, being “our man on the beach”, proving to be invaluable to the whole operation as all of our rowers ended up racing over both divisions, and enduring cold, wet jeans throughout the day – as he often stepped into the water to help crews boat and unboat! (and stoically refusing any offers of dry kit from other club members)
Starting with the first division, in which crews raced downstream but against the incoming tide, they all battled challenging choppy conditions at the beginning of the course, by being exposed to the chilly northerly winds. Still, the coxless quad finished in a respectable 6th place in that division, even after a navigational error from bowman Manny which took the crew through a tight spot between moored boats. Sarah, racing in the bow of Herne Bay’s novice men’s boat (filling in for one of their crewmembers), only went and won the very closely-fought event, finishing 4 seconds in front of their Shoreham rivals! Well done to Sarah and the crew, but especially to Sarah for filling in at such short notice.
Racing now with the outgoing tide, in the second division it was inevitable that the times were going to get shorter. Sarah jumped again into the bow of another coastal 4+, this time with Shoreham, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself there, having a very fun row. The boys from the quad then split into two doubles, one with captain Manny and Jon G (it was Jon’s first time racing for Spitfire too!), and the other being “the boat of Marks” – Mark L and Bricey.
After battling some challenging conditions at the start of the course, Mark L and Bricey powered their craft all the way to the finish, ending with a very respectable time of 16:23, only a few seconds slower than the earlier quad and winning their category.
In the other boat, Manny and Jon G started up strong, trying to keep the chasing crews at bay, namely the Perry-French twins racing in the senior pair event (but in Herne Bay guise). The race was going very well until about 100 metres from the finish line, when a navigational error by bowman Manny (starting to see a pattern here…) got the crew too close to moored boats, causing them to capsize, and giving them a full body experience of the Adur river! (we believe this was the only capsize of the day, too… ?)
Overall, even with the unwanted cold water immersion drill (let’s call it that…), all crews and rowers thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and we thank Shoreham for hosting such a great event, and for all the hospitality, including lending us a 2x for one of our crews (which they then proceeded to capsize – but thankfully no harm done there, just Manny’s ego being a bit bruised). Our thanks to Herne Bay as well for sharing the trailer and towing logistics, we would have not been able to attend the event without them. Lastly, our thanks to club member James K for letting us use Gilbert in this event – we fear our Jack would have struggled a bit more in the choppy conditions!