The Perranporth Sirens – triple champions in 2013
The final act in the UK Surfboat Rowers League season took place at Bournemouth on Saturday 28 September. Read on to find out more...
In previous years Bournemouth has had as much wave action as Eton Dorney, but as the surf rowers gathered two to three feet of windblown swell rolled obliquely across the course – agitated by a breeze that picked up as the day wore on. In the women’s event, Perranporth Sirens won all of their races to round off a dominant season that saw them secure all three domestic titles. “It has taken a year or two but we’ve worked on all the elements of a race and nailed them today,” the Sirens’ stroke, Shelley Hardwick, said. “We’ve a strong squad. It’s great to win the triple and see the hard work pay off.” In the men’s event, things were tighter. Much, much tighter. Perranporth Tridents were locked together with Porthtowan ION, and whoever won on the day would take the title. The opening rounds saw each crew score a victory over the other and, by contest’s end, the two boats were still locked together. It meant the first ever Championship row-off, with the winner taking all. As the boats lined up on the beach both sweeps pushed the patience of the race referee, Spike
Perranporth Tridents, left to right: James Basher, Rob Hardwick, Andy Cox, Marcus Cooper, Nigel Swift
Gaisford, to the absolute limit, seeking any advantage. On the whistle the boats hit the surf together before immediately clashing oars. Amid frantic scenes, the crews could not be separated and ground to a halt – oars locked together. It meant there had to be a restart... Then ION took the advantage to open up a gap of one to two lengths going out through the surf to the turn. They doubled their advantage on the return, and caught the first wave only to slew sideways and away from the finish flags. The Tridents rowed onto the wave behind and managed to keep a straighter line. Bowman, James Basher, trailed his oar to sprint for the finish flags but was lifted from his seat and pinned against the gunwale as the handle wedged against the side of the boat. Amid rising pandemonium the boat ploughed into the beach as Rob Hardwick and Marcus Cooper jumped out. James freed himself and also ran. Perran touched first but there was an immediate protest that the Tridents had not completed the race under control and with at least three people in the boat – an infringement punishable by disqualification. There was an agonising wait for the referee to review the video evidence, before eventually ruling in the Tridents’ favour. It was a marginal call, and one that could easily have gone the other way. The ION boys enhanced the reputation that their rowing has already earned them this season by accepting the decision with a handshake, before leading the charge to the bar. “That was unbelievably tough,” said the Tridents’ sweep and R&R writer Andy Cox, afterwards. “The boys rowed their hearts out but we still needed a slice of luck at the end.”
12 | Rowing & Regatta | November / December 2013