Dover Rowing Club were in action at the inaugural British Rowing Offshore Championships held over the weekend at Sandbanks, Poole. The Championships serve as a qualifier for the FISA World Coastal Rowing Championships at Thoron, France. Dover RC were flying the flag for Coast Amateur Rowing Association in competing in this longer rowing format. Unlike the normal CARA races the start sees crews standing with their boats in the water, the course being a 4km triangle for qualifying and 6km for the finals and the finish seeing a crew member sprinting up the beach to cross the finishing line.
Dover RC entered 3 crews into the competition, Chris Price and Robin McCorkell in the Men’s single sculls (C1), and Jo Johnston and Maria West-Burrows in the Woman’s Doubles (CW2); all competing in hired FISA boats. The first sculler on the water was Price who has previous experience at the FISA Worlds having coxed Dover’s Quad to win the qualifying round before finishing second in the World Championships in the Channel Islands in 2006. Price pushed hard off the start but found the competition too strong as the field quickly settled into two groups with Price leading the second group of scullers fighting for 5th place. With the qualifying out of his reach by the second turn Price pushed hard to break free from his group to secure 5th place in a time of 23 m 24.3 s.
Picture courtesy of British Rowing / Naomi Barker
Johnston and West-Burrows found themselves left at the line as the more experienced FISA style starters gained an advantage in their straight final in the Double Sculls. Once in stroke the ladies closed the gap immediately only to be blocked by the Welsh Sea crew. As the race progressed the experienced FISA crew from Jersey pulled out a substantial lead with Dover in a fight for the minor placings. By the second buoy Dover had been dropped from the medal placings and were fighting for 4th. In an exciting finish Dover’s boat came hammering into the beach with two Welsh crews on their stern. Johnston, belying her 60 years, sprinted up the beach to beat her young Welsh opponent by less than a second. Dover’s fourth place was secured in a time of 34 m 14.9 s; second of the English crews.
McCorkell found himself competing against 2014 World Champion Single Sculls Champion Peter Berg from Sweden. McCorkell got off to a fine start and was in the leading group through the first turn. By the second he was in a comfortable third place and rowed a controlled race to the finish in a time of 20 m 50.9 s thereby qualifying for Sunday’s final.
Finals day saw McCorkell on the start line at 07:35. Berg and the Czech Huja rapidly pulled away from the rest of the field leaving McCorkell battling for third. Fighting hard round the first turn to keep in contact his challenge started to fall away at the second buoy with the young rower coming home 5th in a time of 36 m 29.4 s; second among the British competitors.