An extremely rough Southsea Regatta was the ninth instalment of the Hants and Dorset ARA season and despite worsening conditions seeing the regatta called off two thirds of the way through its programme, there was plenty for Shanklin Sandown Rowing Club to cheer about.
The first race of the day would see the club’s first and only win of the regatta. The Mixed J14 Quad of Scarlett Phelan, Rachael Debenham, Ethan Walters, Mia Phelan – with cox Anja Bennett – took to the water against 5 other crews. With an excellent start, fantastic steering and cleaning rowing through the already difficult water the crew rowed out into a lengths lead and only stretched this further throughout the race to take a commanding and impressive win over a Herne Bay crew that had been up until that point, unbeaten this season.
Having just watched an excellent performance from the club, the Men’s Senior Pair then went afloat for their heat. Alex Robertson and Joe Evans Murray knew they had to finish fourth or higher to qualify for the final later in the day. Despite a poor start and eventful buoy turn, the duo stayed relaxed throughout the race and rowed well through the tough conditions to qualify comfortably in second place.
The final would prove to be over for the Shanklin boat as soon as it began. A clean start in truly awful conditions was quickly nullified by their adjacent Coalporters crew colliding with the pair and leaving them stone dead last by several lengths. Despite this, the boys, as they did in the heat relaxed and slowly moved back through the race. In spite of not competing at the top of the race where they’d have liked – the pair eventually finished 6th which was pleasing given the events of the race.
Then came the turn of the Ladies Junior Four. Starting in an unfavourable lane 7, the crew of Mia Phelan, Lisa Robertson, Anja Bennett, Stella Gamble – with cox Alex Robertson – rowed away from the lane well in the wavy conditions. Rowing down towards the turns, the crew found themselves last but by only a couple of lengths. After a good turn, the row back was extremely tough for the lightweight crew as they found themselves crashing through huge waves. Despite this, they were extremely pleased to finish just a length and a half behind their nearest competitor and see further improvements in their performances.
The Men’s Junior Four then went afloat in a packed heat of 10 boats. Joe Robertson, Jamie Gamble, Matt Miselbach, Harry Miselbach and Ethan Walters featured in a crew that haven’t had much luck at Southsea in recent years with unfair disqualifications and sinkings. The crew clearly had this in mind and the bit between their teeth as they flew off the start line to take the race lead over close rivals Bournemouth and the CARA championship leaders, Deal. Making it round the turn still leading the crew looked to be running away with the race. The conditions had something else to say about this however as a series of massive waves filled their boat within a matter of 15 strokes. Limping towards the line the crew did fantastically well to remain in a qualifying position as Deal and Bournemouth moved through the helpless Shanklin boat, who after crossing the line promptly went straight ashore and emptied their boat.
Daisy Faithfull went afloat for her Junior Sculls final in what would prove to be one of the final races of the day. Racing 3 other Hants and Dorset regulars and 1 sculler from CARA, Daisy was hoping to remain unbeaten. In a close battle with Worthing after the buoy turn Daisy and the Sussex based sculler collided around half way back to the finish. The collision seemed to resolve itself positively for Daisy as she appeared to take the race lead but disaster struck only a few strokes later as the Hants and Dorset champion went for a swim, putting an end to her hopes of winning the race that looked increasingly to be hers to lose.
The regatta was cancelled only a few races after the Ladies Junior Sculls and Men’s Senior Pairs finals.