The new rowing season for Shanklin Sandown Rowing Club started at the weekend at the Head of the Stour in Christchurch.

The head race is an annual fixture of the coastal rowing calendar, with Shanklin taking a variety of crews across both divisions totalling 11 entries.

In the Mens Novice Coastal Sculls Joe Robertson, Henry Mudge and Jamie Gamble all rowed well, finishing within 11 seconds of one another; Jamie earning second, Joe placing third and Henry finishing fourth. Daisy Faithfull also took to the water in a single scull, rowing in the Ladies IM3 River scull. Knowing she faced tough opposition Daisy rowed extremely well, finishing second and just over ten seconds behind the winner.

Alex Robertson and Joe Evans Murray - Winners, Mens Senior Pair
Alex Robertson and Joe Evans Murray – Winners, Mens Senior Pair

More sculling came in the form of the clubs J14 River Double. Riley Horrix and Ethan Walters went afloat for their first ever head race. Despite having no one else in their event and were merely racing for time, the duo rowed out of their skins to finish in the top half of finishers for the first division.

Also racing in the first division was the Ladies Junior Four of Sophie Atkin, Mia Phelan, Emily Andre, Stella Gamble and cox Emily Faithfull. In a combination that had little time training on the water the crew rowed fantastically well and scored a 6th place finish.

The final first division result was something of a throwback for the club. After a season rowing for fellow Island club Ryde, Joe Evans Murray was wearing blue once again, and teamed up with his old partner Alex Robertson. The duo quickly found their rhythm and put in a great row to win their event by a staggering 1 minute and 15 seconds and take the club’s first win of the new season.

The second division saw four more Shanklin boats rowing up to the start of the two-mile course. The first of which was the Mens Junior Four. Joe Robertson, Henry Mudge, Matt Miselbach, Jamie Gamble and cox Ethan Walters didn’t have a lot of time in the boat together before the race, but raced in a fiercely competitive event placing third out of nine.

Joe Evans Murray decided that just one event on his return wasn’t enough, and took to the water in the second division in the Mens Open River Sculls. Confessing he had the wind taken out of his sails from the pair an hour before, Joe had a painful race, but rowed well to earn a strong time and a second place finish.

Sisters Emily and Daisy Faithfull were also racing in division two and took to the water in the Ladies Junior Pair. The girls had a strong start to their row and looked to be gaining time on the other entered pairs, but half way through the race suffered problems with the shoes in the boat and were forced to stop on more than one occasion down the course. Despite this they finished second.

Newport rower Bethany Walpole Davis joined Scarlett Phelan, Mia Phelan, Sophie Atkin and cox Alex Robertson for a Ladies J14 coastal quad. Despite only rowing for time and being some of the youngest members of the field, the girls had a solid row.

The event was a strong display of the depth of the clubs squads, not only taking a senior status win, but also earning many podiums across the day. The club now look forward to the next couple of head races where crews will look to close gaps and improve further on an excellent day at Christchurch!

Shanklin Sandown Rowing Club has thanked Newport and Ryde for the lending and transporting of boats once again. Also, thanks has gone to Christchurch Rowing Club, whom once again ran a very difficult event with the same professionalism they always do and in the wake of a timing issue that left results not being posted until Monday, Shanklin reinforced how grateful they are to have the Stour on the calendar.

Contributed report.