Rowing crews heading for Thames race

Friendship rowers Kelly Betts (cox), Rebecca Smith, Dave Beck, Dave Clarkson, Kate Eglon and Emmy Ford (passenger required by the rules)
Friendship rowers Kelly Betts (cox), Rebecca Smith, Dave Beck, Dave Clarkson, Kate Eglon and Emmy Ford (passenger required by the rules)

Whitby’s two rowing clubs, Fishermen’s and Friendship, will tomorrow send six crews between them to compete in this year’s Great River Race on the Thames.

Four crews from the Friendship club are setting out for London this week to take part in the Great River Race rowing marathon on Saturday.

Over a 21-mile course, there will be two adult men’s crews, an adult mixed crew and an Under 18 crew lining up.

Organiser Richard Green is hoping for a repeat of previous successes: “We have had winning crews in various categories in past years”, he said, “and while this has had an effect on the handicapping system by putting us in a much later starting order, nevertheless there is no reason why we cannot look to do well.”

The mixed crew will be taking to the water with an additional objective in mind.

Rowing for the LINC (Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy) charity, they have already raised over £500 in sponsorship and hope to increase that by the weekend.

Stroke of the crew, Dave Clarkson, said: “I did the race about 20 years ago and vowed never to do it again, but my winter training partner Dave Beck’s daughter recently recovered from leukaemia with the charity’s help so I’m happy to face the challenge with him”.

Beck himself is no stranger to challenges as a former hostage negotiator.

“I’ve never done anything remotely resembling a marathon”, he said, “and doing this is every bit as daunting as dealing with terrorist hostage takers.

“The key to both is training and preparation, so I hope we’ve got it right.”

Mike Brown and Luke Clarkson’s crews will enter the senior category.

The former will be using state of the art ‘cleaver’ oars.

The under 18s crew, led by Ben Betts, will be hoping to carry through their impressive summer racing performances onto the Thames.

Fishermen’s Rowing Club will also be taking part in tomorrow’s Great River Race, between Millwall Slip Docklands to Ham near Richmond.

As the race is handicapped with the slowest boats away first, this will see the Whitby gigs starting about 48 minutes after the first boat’s away.

Entering two crews, the first being the Fishermen’s girls’ under 18s crew of stroke Kirsty Kemsley, Chloe Scarth, Jess Scarth and Leah Hunter, and in keeping with the traditions of the race, a passenger must be carried on board.

This will be Charlotte Hall.

Coxswain will be Mike Waterfield who has experienced many races on the Thames and has been training his crew for up to two hours per rowing session in perfect conditions at sea.

The Fishermen’s second crew of men’s veterans, rowing a salters skiff, which they rebuilt last year specifically for the Great River Race and which achieved sixth place overall from more than 300 boats.

The same crew has entered again, having made a few modifications to the boat, which is pulled by two rowers using four oars.

Crew Darren Archibald, Alan Brown, Derek Brown and Barry Brown all have entered the race on numerous occasions, rowing a variety of craft over the years, from Viking longboat, rowing lifeboat the William Riley, four oared and six oared gigs, a camping skiff, old Ballion replica of 1st Oxford and Cambridge racing eight and salters skiff.

This year’s race marks a special milestone for barry as this will be his 25th consecutive Great River Race.