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EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE ROW


wo Dartmouth crews are having a busy summer rowing; they’ve taken on the daunting Eddystone Lighthouse row in July, and both are planning epic rows on the Thames in September – why? There are plenty of opportunities to get rowing in Dartmouth – but there are always those people that want to see how much they can push them- selves – and this summer a men’s and ladies team have taken on two of the toughest ways of doing that. The girls’ crew are Kate Cooke,


T


Bex Marsh, Maya Hatton, Jo Hayden, Jody Newstead and Lucy Swash, and the boys are Jon Pope, Chris Gale, Phil Langman and Freddy Prettyjohns (coxed by Sarah Jane Bingham Chick). The Eddystone row was on


Saturday July 7 – right in the middle of some of the worst summer weather Devon has witnessed in living memory. What you need before a big physi- cal challenge like that is a relaxing drive down. Unfortunately the girls had a nightmare journey. Jody said: “We were entering a race that most people would find mad, and we were up for it as we are happy to take on any challenge. But as we have found it’s not always the race that is hard, it’s getting to it! We set off from Dartmouth, boat in tow, but got to Modbury to find that the road was closed due to flooding! A very nice policeman helped us turn the boat around and even gave us a police escort down some very narrow roads until we reached Yealmpton Bridge. Unfortunately that was closed too! Once again we turned around, the next road that we took was very flooded but we thought, heh, we have a boat; if it gets that bad we


could row there...” Despite this, both teams made it to


the starting line– however there were more surprises in store: because of the weather organisers felt it was too dangerous to row to the lighthouse and back – and asked competitors to row to just past the Tamar Bridge and back again before going around Drake Island in Plymouth Harbour – still a row of 28 miles. Because of the terrible weather only 20 or so crews took part, whereas there would normally be 60 teams in all sorts of vessels taking it on.


“Initially we were disappointed not


The Eddystone row was on Saturday July 7 – right in the middle of some of the worst summer weather Devon has witnessed in living memory.


to be going to the lighthouse, which was of course one of the reasons we were there,” said Jon Pope. “We wanted to see if we could do the row as a team. But with some difficult tides it was still a very tough row, which we were determined to complete in a good time – we hoped to beat three and a half hours.” Even though they were not heading out to sea - the boys in a gig, the girls in a Seine boat - this was no easy challenge. Firstly they were go- ing to be rowing for hours – possibly as many as five for the girls – and secondly they were against the tide for much of the race. Rowing against the tide the boys took more than two hours to make it up to the bridge, then had a bit of help from it as they turned and made for home, getting back down in less than an hour and half – their finishing


time was three hours and thirty three minutes, just over their target. “It was a great row,” said Jon.


“We saw some strange sights on the way too – like some Hell’s Angels in a hovercraft! When we went around Drake’s Island at the finish I wondered if we would ever make it back as all of us just seized up! We would definitely do it again.” The girls were rowing a slower


Seine boat, and got NO help from the tide at all – by the time they reached the Tamar Bridge, having rowed against the tide the whole way, they turned for home as the tide was turn- ing too!


“At times it felt like we were rowing on a treadmill, not getting anywhere, and sometimes it felt the end was getting further and further away,” said Jody. “We had a really interesting row – having to keep 150metres from the naval base, getting (another) police es- cort for a while, and fighting the tide. Despite all the challenges, we made it, in four hours and forty six!” Both crews, fresh from their success, are planning to take part in races on the River Thames. The girls are participating in ‘The


Great River Race”: a 21 mile row up the Thames on September 15. The girls are also planning to do this row in fancy dress, but WHAT they are going to be wearing is a closely guarded secret – watch this space to find out! The boys are taking on a row that is a daunting prospect for anyone: 160 miles in 35 hours along the River Thames - possibly an enlarged crew of six will take on this mammoth challenge and there are plans to use the huge challenge to raise funds for Dartmouth charitable cause “Help Our Heroes”•


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