Shanklin secure second championship in Southsea chop!

Shanklin arrived at Southsea regatta with one championship secured, and another needing just one more point.

Southsea regatta differs to other Hants and Dorset regattas as it also includes the clubs of the Coastal ARA, which covers coastal rowing from Southsea to Herne Bay (South East). The Hants and Dorset traditionally win the inter-association aggregate trophy and most of the fours events, whilst CARA takes the lion’s share of the small boats events (Pairs and Singles). The day would see a bucked trend on one side of this tradition however!

The clubs small squad also included a J16 Quad and Men’s Junior Four. Whilst weather forecasts had threatened to call off the regatta in the run up to the day, the predicted thunder storms and high winds failed to materialise, with conditions becoming traditionally choppy, leading to some excellent performances for the club, who finished first out of all Hants and Dorset crews in all their results.

The clubs first event of the day was the Boys J16 Quad Sculls. The discipline is an unfamiliar one to the club, as for years, Hants and Dorset races have been in fours. This is beginning to change however, as more and more Hants and Dorset regattas are seeing Quads replace fours. CARA however have rowed quads for years, the boys knew therefore that as they lined up against CARA crews, it was going to be tough to win the race. Nevertheless, Jamiey Wain, Joe Robertson, Harry Miselbach, Joe Murray and cox Sophie Wrixon went afloat, with one training session the week before under their belts! Despite this, it was a crew of well established scullers, and they hoped to cause an upset! It looked like they might do just that, as the crew powered into the lead from the start, leaving the CARA crews half a length down from the first ten strokes. The boys held this lead well in the early stages, and only by the half way point did Herne Bay and Deal claw back the deficit. The latter stages of the race was where experience proved key for the CARA crews, as they seemed to know how to make their boats move that little better than Shanklins. Coming into the last two hundred metres, Shanklin were two lengths down, and not quite close enough to be involved in the close sprint finish between Herne Bay and Deal. The crew however had beaten the rest of the field comfortably and were the first Hants and Dorset crew over the line in third place! A fantastic result all things considered.

The clubs second race of the day was for the Men’s Junior Four, who for the third time this season seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! The crew had been reshuffled for the regatta, with Joe Robertson being replaced by Henry Gove, who moved to the two seat. Harry Hopper moved into the bow and Matt Miselbach into three. With Harry Miselbach and Sophie Wrixon (cox) in their regular places, the crew went afloat on the worsening conditions, hoping that the chop could help them qualify for the final for the first time this year. After a shambolic start that took over fifteen minutes due to crews both unable to straighten up and others just pushing their luck, the race was underway. The boys had a fantastic start, ploughing through the choppy water and running in the top three. Their row towards the turn would be marred however by the race plan of the CARA Junior Fours champions. The crew from Deal, who had drawn lane eleven steered across the course in order to turn a supposed favourable inside buoy. This lead to the Shanklin crew being boxed in by the crew from Kent, and due to the great race the boys were rowing, the overlap they continued to hold meant that cox Sophie was unable to get clear. As the buoys approached, the situation became dire for Shanklin, as it looked as though they were going to be unable to take their own buoy. This lead to a collision at the buoy the guys eventually took, with BTC. The collision led to the race being stopped, and the Shanklin crew disqualified. Whilst there was little to complain about the crews disqualification, it was as a result of something beyond the crews control, and leaves them with their third collision at the buoys of the season!

Despite being only five events after the Fours race, the Mens Junior Pair did not go afloat for over an hour and a half after the Junior Four came off the water such was the delays from crews creating difficulties on the start. The newly crowned Hants and Dorset champions went afloat in the ever worsening chop, quietly confident in the conditions, although unsure of whether they’d be able to challenge the CARA crews for the race victory. Despite a packed start line of twelve boats, the start went off with little incident, and the Shanklin pair quickly established themselves amongst the leaders. As the field began to settle into their positions, Shanklin sat in third place, and closing in on Shoreham and Deal. They would suffer a similar fate to the Junior Four however, as both the CARA pairs, who were in lanes outside Shanklin, came across the Hants and Dorset champions. This, in the case of Deal, caused a collision. Despite this, the boys lead by a canvas into the buoys turns, but quickly lost this lead as both CARA boats had very good turns. The return leg was not as smooth a row as the previous for Shanklin, and this allowed for Shoreham and Deal to extend to two lengths on them. This is how it stayed to the finish, with Shanklin in the mix, but not quite there, at three lengths behind the winners Shoreham. The pair were however a distance ahead of the rest of the field (+6 lengths) and were even further ahead of the next Hants and Dorset crew Southsea, this gives the pair their eight point from nine regattas.

The final race of Shanklins day came at half past seven in the evening, despite being scheduled for half past four! Alex Robertson had been comprehensively beaten by his championship rivals on the still waters of Newport the week before, and hoped that he could secure his sixth point, and the championship on the choppy Southsea waters. Alex had qualified for the final earlier in the day, coming second in his heat. In the final, he did not need to win to earn his championship victory; he instead only had to be the first Hants and Dorset sculler over the line. Alex pushed off the start in the still choppy conditions, and forged ahead with the race leaders. As the scullers began to settle into their positions, Alex too settled and began to slip away from the lead, instead focusing on ensuring nothing could upset his championship celebrations (i.e. a capsize). After he had his buoy taken by Deal and Herne Bay, he was slow round the turn, but continued to lead the Hants and Dorset race. On the return leg, a comfortable row lead to a fifth place finish, and the championship being secured! A fantastic result for the club, with both championships now confirmed, still three regattas still to come! The championships are not only the first in six years for the club, but the first time in over twenty years that the club has won more than one Hants and Dorset championship! A testament to rebirth of the clubs rowing membership in the last five years!

The club will now head to Bournemouth next weekend, with a sense of relief, knowing that they can race free of pressure for the final three regattas, but also the promising performances from the crews on the rough seas, as we head into the coastal finale of the season (Bournemouth, Poole and BTC).

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