Scotland lifts trophy at inaugural beach rowing event
The Scotland Rowing Team lifted a much-coveted trophy at the first Home International Rowing Beach Sprints event, hosted by Scottish Rowing and the University of St Andrews.
The dynamic new race format, involving a combination of sprinting and agility on both the land and water, made its debut on Saturday 20 August as part of the Home International Rowing (HIR) portfolio of events which has been celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2022.
Visiting teams from England, Ireland and Wales joined the hosts in taking to the coastal waters at East Sands in St Andrews, battling it out across a series of time trials followed by head-to-head races in six different boat classes.
Scotland took the first title of the day in the Coastal Mixed Double Scull (CMix2x) as former world champion lightweight rower Sam Scrimgeour (Glasgow University Boat Club) and Aberdeen Boat Club’s Catriona Bain teamed up and recorded a five-second victory over Ireland’s Noel Creedon and Karen McCarthy of Ring Rowing Club.
Scotland and Ireland were also involved in the closest and most exciting race of the day in the semi-final of the equivalent junior event (CJMix2x) as Isla MacCallum (Scotland) and Kate Verling (Ireland) dived at the same time for the finish buzzer following their sprint up the beach. After reviewing slow-motion video footage, President of the Jury, Claire McIntosh, awarded the verdict to Ireland by the narrowest of margins.
England, however, proved too strong for Ireland in the final as Tommy Fuller (Exeter Rowing Club) and Evelyn Pakule (Lea Rowing Club) took the win by a clear margin following some fine sculling in the challenging conditions.
The late afternoon session brought the semi-finals and finals of the solo races with much anticipation due to the competitive field. Scotland’s captain Gregor Hall (Stirling Rowing Club) dominated the Coastal Open Solo (CO1x) taking the ‘A final’ victory over British champion Jerry Owen from Wales, after England’s Charles Cousins, a London 2012 Olympian, was forced to withdraw on the morning of the event with an injury.
England’s Clare Jamison (Christchurch Rowing Club) added to her recent British title with the HIR Coastal Women’s Solo (CW1x), defeating Scotland’s Laura McKenzie (Glasgow University Boat Club) in the ‘A final’.
Coming into the junior solo races it was all to play for in the overall team event, with Scotland and England taking two wins each and the hosts narrowly ahead on points.
Ireland’s Cormac Benson (St Michael’s Rowing Club) boosted their chances with a strong win in the Coastal Junior Open Solo (CJO1x) over Scotland’s Robbie Waddell. The second place earned by Stirling Rowing Club’s Waddell would prove crucial in the battle for the HIR team trophy.
England picked up their third victory of the day – the most of any nation – in the Coastal Junior Women’s Solo (CJW1x) as Agecroft Rowing Club’s Scarlett Dewar proved to be the class act in the field. Dewar defeated Wales’ Melissa McGarva (Stirling Rowing Club) in the ‘A final’.
University of St Andrews Vice-Principal (Digital Education, Research and Environment), Professor Monique Mackenzie, presented the new HIR Beach Sprints trophy – produced by designer Rhian Browning from recycled sterling silver, driftwood and sea glass collected from the four competing nations – to Scotland Rowing Team Manager Graeme Cunningham after Scotland edged England by 18 points to 16. Ireland finished third on 15 points with Wales on 11 points.
The inaugural Beach Sprints Organising Committee was led by University of St Andrews Director of Rowing Alan Sinclair, supported by students from the University Boat Club, members of University staff and colleagues from Scottish Rowing, with the help of volunteers from across the rowing community.
Gregor Hall, Scotland team captain and winner of the Coastal Open Solo (CO1x), said: “Representing Scotland is always something you should take great pride in. I am extremely proud of the full team effort. Every single member of the team played their part in the lead up to the event and on race day, which was absolutely vital to Scotland’s success.
“It was a great honour to captain this team, winning on home soil and securing Scotland as first-ever champions of HIR Beach Sprints. We look forward to 2023 for the opportunity to defend Scotland’s title in Wales.”
Lee Boucher, of the Home International Rowing General Management Committee, said: “The University of St Andrews proved to be fantastic hosts for the inaugural Home International Rowing Beach Sprints, which saw world-class competition on East Sands and new friendships and rivalries formed across the home nations.
“Our thanks to the organising committee, event partners and volunteers for delivering a first-class event and many congratulations to the Scotland Rowing Team for winning the first-ever HIR Beach Sprints team trophy.”
Alan Sinclair, University of St Andrews Director of Rowing and Event Director, said: “The inaugural HIR Beach Sprints provided a great platform from which to showcase the town of St Andrews and highlighted the University’s unique capacity for being able to deliver a truly world-class international standard coastal rowing event. We are extremely fortunate to have the location, the expertise, the passion and the partnerships to bring this event to life and to further our Coastal Rowing ambitions in the longer term.
“We’d like to thank Scottish Rowing for their ongoing support and commitment to helping us realise our vision, as well as our event partners, sponsors and all the volunteers who helped to make this event possible.”
The event was supported by a number of partners, including Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, Red Bull, Actiph Water, Rival Kit, Swift Racing, All Mark One, Macron Store Dundee, and St Andrews Brewing Company.
Emma Walker, Chief Executive for Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, said: “The Trust is very pleased to support the International Beach Regatta – it’s a fantastic event and example of partnership working to make the best of local resources.
“As a charitable trust, we believe passionately about working with local partners and being innovative in using community sports and leisure facilities to their utmost. This includes outdoor spaces, so that as many people of all abilities and ages can access physical activity and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits getting active delivers.”