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Southsea cancellation fails to halt Shanklin silverware!

An extremely rough Southsea regatta was the ninth instalment of the Hants and Dorset ARA season and despite worsening conditions seeing the regatta called off two thirds of the way through its programme, there was plenty for Shanklin Sandown Rowing Club to cheer about!

Southsea regatta is one of the largest rowing events in the country, with the regular entrance of 12 Hants and Dorset ARA clubs being joined by those from the Coast Amateur Rowing Association for the first of two inter association events this season.

The first race of the day for the club would see the clubs first and only win of the regatta. The Mixed J14 Quad of Scarlett Phelan, Rachael Debenham, Ethan Walters, Mia Phelan and cox Anja Bennett took to the water against 5 other crews. With an excellent start, fantastic steering and cleaning rowing through the already difficult water - the crew rowed out into a lengths lead and only stretched this further throughout the race to take a commanding and impressive win over a Herne Bay crew that had been up until that point unbeaten this season.

Having just watched an excellent performance from the club, the Mens Senior Pair then went afloat for their heat. Alex Robertson and Joe Evans Murray knew they had to finish fourth or higher to qualify for the final later in the day. Despite a poor start and eventful buoy turn, the duo stayed relaxed throughout the race and rowed well through the tough conditions to qualify comfortably in second place. The final would prove to be over for the Shanklin boat as soon as it began. A clean start in truly awful conditions was quickly nullified by their adjacent Coalporters crew colliding with the pair and leaving them stone dead last by several lengths. Despite this, the boys, as they did in the heat relaxed and slowly moved back through the race. In spite of not competing at the top of the race where they'd have liked - the pair eventually finished 6th which was pleasing given the events of the race!

Jamie Gamble was out on the water in the Mens Novice Sculls as conditions began to turn particularly difficult. An excellent row down towards the turn had Jamie well in the race. However the return leg proved to be extremely difficult for the Shanklin sculler as he slowly slipped out of the qualifying positions, eventually finishing sixth.

Then came the turn of the Ladies Junior Four. The crew have in recent weeks been closing the previously considerable gap to the rest of the field - however with conditions as they were, faced a new, even tougher challenge at Southsea! Starting in an unfavourable lane 7, the crew of Mia Phelan, Lisa Robertson, Anja Bennett, Stella Gamble and cox Alex Robertson rowed away from the lane well in the wavy conditions. Rowing down towards the turns, the crew found themselves last but by only a couple of lengths. After a good turn, the row back was extremely tough for the lightweight crew as they found themselves crashing through huge waves. Despite this, they were extremely pleased to finish just a length and a half behind their nearest competitor and see further improvements in their performances!

The Mens Junior Four then went afloat in a packed heat of 10 boats. Joe Robertson, Jamie Gamble, Matt Miselbach, Harry Miselbach and Ethan Walters featured in a crew that haven't had much luck at Southsea in recent years with unfair disqualifications and sinkings! The crew clearly had this in mind and the bit between their teeth as they flew off the start line to take the race lead over close rivals Bournemouth and the CARA championship leaders Deal. Making it round the turn still leading the crew looked to be running away with the race. The conditions had something else to say about this however as a series of massive waves filled their boat within a matter of 15 strokes. Limping towards the line the crew did fantastically well to remain in a qualifying position as Deal and Bournemouth moved through the helpless Shanklin boat, who after crossing the line promptly went straight ashore and emptied their boat of what we can only assume was half the Solent!

Daisy Faithfull went afloat for her Junior Sculls final in what would prove to be one of the final races of the day. Racing three other Hants and Dorset regulars and one sculler from CARA Daisy was hoping to remain unbeaten. Another good start from Daisy saw her putting herself into an early position to at the very least earn her Hants and Dorset point for the regatta. Daisy was never going to settle for this however and now looked towards keeping her record unblemished. In a close battle with Worthing after the buoy turn Daisy and the Sussex based sculler collided around half way back to the finish. The collision seemed to resolve itself positively for Daisy as she appeared to take the race lead but disaster struck only a few strokes later as the Hants and Dorset champion went for a swim, putting an end to her hopes of winning the race that looked increasingly to be hers to lose! An agonising result but importantly Daisy was okay and came off the water with a smile!

The regatta was cancelled only a few races after the Ladies Junior Sculls and Mens Senior Pairs finals and with eventful races for the club in both, we fully appreciate the danger the conditions represented to all rowers on the water from Novice to Senior. We would like to thank Southsea regatta for making the right call in running the regatta - getting 22 of 37 races off the start line was proof that the risk was worth taking. Further praise goes to the safety crews on the day who not only ensure the safety of Shanklin rowers, but all rowers on the day.

A final thank you goes to Ryde Rowing Club and Newport Rowing Club whom both helped transport equipment in the face of Shanklin having to juggle its logistics over a busy weekend. The next regatta will take place this weekend at Western Shore, as BTC host their regatta.

Photo Credits : Captured Moments by Dan A-C (Dan Angel Collins, BTC Rowing Club)

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