Thames race double honour for Griffin

Friendship's Laura Parkin shows the strain towards the end of the ladies' race on the River Thames
Friendship's Laura Parkin shows the strain towards the end of the ladies' race on the River Thames

A Whitby men’s veterans’ rowing crew claimed a double honour as they took their new 17ft Dory boat to the Thames for the first time.

Fisherlads’ men veteran’s over 40s crew of brothers Barry, Derek and Alan Brown, Darren Archibald were racing the Dory boat Griffin in the Great River Race.

The men’s crew members have raced together at London in many different boats and with other crews, Viking boat, skiffs and Whitby rowing lifeboat among others.

The men wanted a new challenge this year building a 17ft boat from a flat pack system supplied by Fyres Boats of Kendal.

It was built in an 18th Century workshop loaned by local boat builder Dave Wharton behind the White Horse and Griffin. The boat was named Griffin, coming from the Church Street restaurant, also Dave’s mother’s maiden name.

Dave’s wife Biddy christened Griffin at their Black Shed boat shed in the upper harbour in August.

Comprising 338 boats, the largest race to date began with the slower boats first, with a staggered start as classes of boat are handicapped on rowers and speed of the boat.

The first four-and-a-half miles was rough, with several small boats sinking.

Griffin performed beyond expectations, having never been out in rough conditions.

Once past Westminster, Griffin was in the lead about one hour into the race, with no other boats in sight, with everyone knowing the faster boats would chase towards the end.

Racing with no other boats around, it can be hard to push on so the crew encouraged each other, staying strong and focussed.

On the home straight of 500m, Griffin still had the lead racing into Richmond but Hawaiian Outrigger came round the corner with speed with all paddlers determined to pass the Whitby boat, which they did.

Griffin finished 33 seconds later, taking second place overall, but first in vets and first in four-oared with a time of 2 hrs 47 mins (handicap 14 mins).

Crew member Alan Brown said: “At the awards-giving, it was very satisfying to get the recognition of our achievement of winning the two biggest classes, along with second overall.

“We were surprised as to how well Whitby as a rowing team was known, not only around the county but abroad as well.”

Fisherlads have raced on the Thames every year from 1989 only missing the first race in 1988.

A ladies’ crew of Yasmin Spencer, Sandra Clark, Jordan Spencer, Kerry Brown, cos Steve Waring, passenger Karen Spencer were also racing, on the gig Relentless.

They completed the race in 2hrs 44 mins (with a handicap of 48 mins), and taking 10 fastest ladies, the crew were happy with their time, three having last raced in the junior classes several years ago.

It finished a very good season for the crew.They raised around £1,200 for St Catherine’s Hospice.

Any further donations can be left at the club.

Friendship Rowing Club returned from the Great River Race marathon in London in high spirits.

Three boats were entered in the event – in the ladies’, men’s veterans and men’s ultra veterans’ categories.

Starting low down the order due to the mysterious handicapping system, all crews performed commendably.

Pick of the bunch was the men’s veterans, crewed by Jimmy Kilpatrick, Andy Smurthwaite, Andy Fletcher and Pete Betts, coxed by the experienced Ricky Lowther and with Giselle Fletcher as the passenger.

Their time of just over two hours and 24 minutes placed them in 20th place overall.

“Jimmy set a cracking pace from the outset”, said Lowther, “He’s like a machine that never stops, and the crew just went with him.

“To finish 20th overall was brilliant, considering all the other categories of boats there were.”

The ladies’ crew were equally satisfied with their time of 2 hours and 55 minutes, raising over £1,000 for the Candle Lighters children’s cancer charity in the process.

Crewed by Laura Parkin, Jaclyn Green, Rebecca Smith and Kelly Betts, with Morgann Russell coxing and James Kendrew the passenger, the crew gave their all throughout.

Slightly less happy was the Ultra Veterans’ crew of Rich Green, Keith Locker, Dave Clarkson and Gary Sharpe, coxed by club captain Luke Clarkson with Beth Sharpe as passenger.

They returned a time of 2 hours and 41 minutes, which Clarkson felt could have been improved on.

“I felt they were feeling the effects of a late night beforehand”, said Clarkson, “which is something we need to learn for next year.

“However, overall I’m very pleased with all the crews. We had a great weekend together and morale is high going into the winter training period.”