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Simon takes on Sark to Jersey

The Sark to Jersey rowing race was originally the idea of four friends from the Bonne Nuit Boat Owners Association. After Sunday lunch at Les Fontaines Tavern on the north coast, they looked across the sea to the small neighbouring island. If Chay Blyth and John Ridgeway could row the Atlantic, they thought, it must be possible to row between Jersey and Sark.

In 1967 a variety of boats and rowers proved that it was, with the first crew finishing in just under five hours. Today it is still one of the great sporting challenges in the Channel Islands and a hotly contested but friendly inter-insular.

The course takes competitors from the start in Dixcart Bay across open water to the Paternosers reef where they turn and follow Jersey’s north coast towards Bonne Nuit Bay. By the time they hit dry land they will have rowed about 19 nautical miles with cross tides and the infamous choppy outfalls off Sark, not to mention any other conditions the weather throws at them.

I will be “competing” with my brother Des Nevitt on 9th July. I have completed the race a few times before in my late teens and early 20’s (unfortunately 20+ years ago now) when I used to row in a fixed seated sweep boat as was the norm back then but now we’ll be rowing a sliding doubles with free draining open stern.

I’ve little experience sculling so I am very grateful for the time and tuition Gary Burch from Shanklin Sandown Rowing Club has given me to try to get me in some sort of position to feel confident to row doubles with my brother for this 2 hour plus race. I should say that as I write this my brother has just won the British Offshore Coastal Championship doubles with an ex-Olympian Charles Cousins at Saundersfoot, Wales where he will also be competing for GBR in the World Coastal Champs in October. I feel very sorry for him now having to carry me across 19 miles of sea in 2 weeks time! Talk about high to low for him! Hopefully I get to race but with potential flight worries at present, covid, and of course the weather potentially putting an end to any racing it may not happen, but fingers crossed as I am very much looking forward to getting in a boat with my brother and seeing how we go.

Thanks to all the coaches that have given me some of their valuable time since turning up pre-covid. The club is so friendly and supportive I would encourage anyone that fancies a go at rowing, even as an older adult, to pop down and talk to anyone there.

Simon Nevitt