Dover Rowing Club’s Atlantic Challenge

Following lockdown Dover Rowing Club move to be a ‘virtual’ club with the clubs ergos (Rowing Machines) distributed to members. The club started regular challenges to promote continued fitness, including a cross channel challenge, and to maintain support for members that might be struggling in these uncertain times. They were therefore delighted to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Folkestone RC to compete in a virtual row of the Atlantic. Members could use a rowing machine, run, walk, workout or cycle (whether using turbo trainers, statics or normal rides counting for half the value of the rest) whilst encouraged to show awareness of current restrictions including social distancing. Dover RC and Folkestone RC were joined by Worthing RC to make it a three horse race for the 4700km to virtual English Harbour, Antigua.

The challenge brought together the racing members with the dry side members together in a competition for the first time. So with ergos in hallways, sheds and spare rooms, carefully thought out routes for runs, walks and cycle rides, Dover were ready for the off. The event also revealed the club had a ‘man machine’ in Adrian Callard who was the biggest individual contributor through the race. As the first third was completed, Dover and Worthing were neck and neck with Folkestone in the lead. Then marathon length rows, on the day scheduled for the London Marathon, came into play and Dover dropped to third. The fight back saw Callard, Chris Hall, Heather Corby, Maria West-Burrows and Jo Johnson bring the race into a three battle again. Contact was made with members who were not on the social media groups, or who had not been heard from recently, leading to valuable contributions from Nick Bailey, Saffron Walmsley-Preece, Steve Woods, Terry Kiggens, Amy Lewington and Julie Hall. Dover moved into a two way battle with Folkestone. Significant contributions from Junior members Bo Corby (rowing and cycling) and Emma Oliver amongst others with club stalwarts Jacky Silk, Chris Price, Chrissy Purvis, Jen Jordan and even their press officer David Newman saw Dover take the lead. The 10 km club came to together with Cameron Macintosh, Matt Barnett and Jon Cook as the end of the race came into sight. A big push at the weekend with Alfie Gardner, Paul Scrivener late declarations and regular contributors Tony Burrows Marie Cockerell, Lorna Florence Clay, Izzy Godden, Ella and Kate Day combined with the some big hits from Callard and C. Hall, Dover found themselves in sight of the finish. With the last 7.5 Km dropping in, Burrows raced to enter the finish message on the Coast Amateur Rowing Association page only to find the Folkestone had finished a mere 19 minutes ahead of Dover.

The inevitable conversation at the virtual bar, saw the clubs agree to race the next leg onto virtual Panama to start on Sunday the 10th May. With other clubs ready to join in, it will be a challenging race as we head towards the pacific .

Just prior to the instructions for social distancing and lockdown, the club held the official naming ceremony for their new pair / double boat the John Turnpenny named in memory of one the clubs benefactors who supported the club for many years. The boat, which arrived during last season, was pressed into immediate service being used in 4 wins by the C Hall / Tom Stothart pairing’s late run at the championship.