Eddystone Challenge 2012
weather forces alternative race - The Tamar Challenge...


Crews waited anxiously at Turnchapel during the morning of Saturday 7 July for the latest weather predictions for inshore waters put out by Brixham Coastguard. 

  Finally at 1020 hrs came the disappointing news that conditions for the 10th annual running of the Eddystone Challenge were to be too challenging for the 25 sea kayakers and rowing crews preparing to undertake this 28 mile sea marathon.With force 8 squalls coming in from the Western Approaches together with poor visibility, the Eddystone Reef was not the place for anybody, let alone 60 kayakers and rowers

Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club who organise this event every year have been in this situation before and immediately put in place the alternative event, the Tamar Challenge in the more sheltered waters of Plymouth Sound and Tamar estuary.   This course took the fleet along the inside of Plymouth Breakwater and then up beyond the Tamar Bridge before return slog to Turnchapel.

read jane and cath's report....

'Saturday, 7th July saw Jane and Cath return to Plymouth, the last place they competed together 4 years ago. This was for a very different event; the Eddystone challenge.  A 28 nautical mile (approx. 56km) row from Plymouth harbour to the Eddystone lighthouse and back. With unsettled weather conditions forecasted, they were preparing for a gruelling row for anything up to 7 hours continuous rowing in a double scull.

Sadly, they are still to undertake this challenge as the race was cancelled.

Force 6 to 8 winds and poor visibility meant that an alternative route was chosen and a course was set for a circumnavigation of Plymouth Sound, followed by a river trip up the Tamar, totalling 20miles. So amongst the other gigs, Yole 4’s, single kayaks and double kayaks, Mary Clare was launched as the only double scull and Jane and Cath were ready for the challenge.

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After enjoying riding the increasing swell in the sound they were faced with breaking overfalls, followed by a 5 knot adverse tide to take them through the Drake Island tidal gate. Their carefully planned routine of resting and taking on water every 22minutes was given over to continuous rowing to avoid being swept back by the strong ebbing tide. Once through the tidal gate, eddies were the game. Whilst most of the rowing boats were in the full force of the river, Jane and Cath were amongst the kayakers dodging in and out of eddies and grazing their oars on the pier supports as they snook into shallow and slacker water. Finally they arrived at the turning point in 4th position after about 2hours 15mins of rowing.

A double kayak was quickly catching them as both boats turned to enjoy the ride home on the tide. So the race was on; the kayak reducing the distance between them all the time. No rests for Jane and Cath now. The routine of a low stroke rate was replaced with full race pace. Satisfyingly, they both had it in them and they pulled away and won their private race.

Back in familiar World Championships territory they sprinted to the finish and ended with a very respectable time of 2hours, 51minutes, placing them 4th overall; A most enjoyable and satisfying race.

Congratulations and thanks need to go to the Mayflower Rowing Club for an extremely well organised and welcoming event. A definite must for diaries next year.'

well done jane and cath!

Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club is once again indebted to all the safety crews who make this event possible.  Having such a large number of competitors on the water for up to 6 hours in very  arduous  conditions requires a comprehensive safety plan and the ability to deal with a range of emergency situations .   The six yacht crews, eight rescue boats and a’hospital ship’ are essential for the safety and comfort of all taking part and provide the sense of security during what is  potentially a dangerous event.

More information about this competition and how to enter can be found on the Mayflower Club’s web site www.mayfloweroffshorerowingclub.org  


Posted: 09:34:45 - 13/07/2012

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