Inspired Southsea crews impress as home regatta is a storming success

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Robert Jones sent off Chey Dunkley against Pompey earlier this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

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As the thunder and lightning stayed away the storming performances were left to those on the water in the 2014 edition of the Southsea Rowing Regatta.

More than 550 rowers took part in 35 races, with 21 clubs across the south coast represented, stretching from Deal in Kent to Poole in Dorset.

Fortunately, the predicted storms never arrived with sunshine instead adding to the spectacle on the seafront.

As usual the Solent was choppy, making it tough for the crews, particularly around the turn, out towards Eastney.

Competition was fierce on the water, with both the Coast Amateur Rowing Association and the Hants & Dorset Amateur Rowing Association meeting in what is the biggest regatta on the south coast.

Southsea showcased some of the new young talent coming through.

Their ladies J16 quad were the first home crew in action and finished in sixth place, with Itchen A taking the victory.

The impressive Southsea A men’s novice four crew made their mark early on.

Guy Elder, David Osborne, Paul Drew, Louis Oldfield and cox Jeff Watling were in inspired form, winning their heat to the delight of the home support on the beach.

They later went on to finish a strong second in the final, with a powerful BTC crew taking the victory.

Southsea Rowing Club member Mark Baker praised the Southsea A performance.

He was delighted they crowned a successful regatta with a brilliant second place.

He said: ‘Three of the members of the novice four crew are still at college and have been rowing together for some time now.

‘Hopefully they will get their first win soon.

‘There is still some of the season to go, so we are still going for gold so to speak.

‘We were really pleased with the performances. Everybody enjoyed it.

‘There had been thunderstorms predicted.

‘Obviously if you have storms you cannot row. Thankfully the weather didn’t put paid to the regatta.

‘Southsea is known for being a bit choppy so it was no different to previous years.’

Another eye-catching display came from highly-talented Poole youngsters Katie Crane, 16, and Jess Burgess, 15, as they took on the adult crews to win the ladies’ junior pairs.

Junior status applies to rowers who didn’t win points in the previous regatta season and newly-qualified novice crews.

It was one of a number of great races on the day as the likes of Hastings, Eastbourne, Ryde, Shanklin/Sandown, Worthing, Poole, BTC and Dover battled for glory.

The regatta has long been a hugely popular highlight of the sporting calendar in Portsmouth.

And with rowing one of the sports to receive a surge in interest since the 2012 Olympics, the future looks great.

Southsea have seen their membership boosted and Baker believes things are looking good for the club, the sport, and the regatta in the city.

He said: ‘We’d like to reclaim the glory days when we had hundreds of people out on the seafront watching the regatta.

‘Southsea is regarded as the link between the two rowing associations, we compete in both, and we host the biggest rowing regatta on the south coast.

‘A lot of young people have joined our club recently. It has given us a boost for the future.

‘We’ve got a new boat coming and we’ve invested in some new blades for the younger members.

‘The support from the families has been great and it’s good to see.’