Sunday, 21 April 2019

High winds cut Mad March Dash in half

High winds cut Mad March Dash in half

GORING Gap Boat Club hosted its first regional rowing competition at its new £350,000 boathouse on the River Thames at the weekend.

About 50 recreational rowers from 10 clubs across the South-East took part in the Mad March Dash, part of the Thames Valley Explore Rowing League.

The event was hailed a success despite being shortened due to weather.

The racing was supposed to happen on Saturday and Sunday but the first day was cancelled because of the risk of capsizing in high winds.

However, conditions improved overnight and a smaller event went ahead on Sunday.

Crews raced about 3km upstream from Pangbourne to the boathouse by Gatehampton railway bridge, on the opposite bank of the river from Goring, in quad sculls.

The course was longer than in previous years, when the club was based at the Oratory School’s outdoor boatyard near Whitchurch and would organise a 250m sprint from Mapledurham.

The new boathouse opened at the start of the year.

All entrants used the four touring boats provided to the club by British Rowing with sponsorship from Charles Stanley Wealth Management. These are more stable than the “fine” shells used by more experienced rowers.

The boat club, which organises the biennial Goring and Streatley Regatta, came second from last but captain of rowing Alistair Davies said it was the taking part that mattered.

He said: “It’s about getting more people into fun and friendly competitive events so it’s not like a traditional regatta.

“It was much more about endurance this time. It was still quite windy on Sunday so the crews were put through their paces but loved it.

“I was having kittens on Saturday night because the forecast looked promising but the weather outside was terrible. Fortunately, it improved and we had clear skies with breezes.

“The visiting crews were impressed with the new boathouse. For people who’d seen our old site, with boats outside on scaffolding, I think there was both astonishment and envy.”

The club’s next Learn to Row course, which is aimed at beginners or those getting back into the sport, starts on April 27 and the regatta will be held on July 20.

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