Jersey rowers hope to make big splash at British Championships

CREWS of Jersey rowers are heading to Exmouth this weekend with medal hopes in the British Rowing Offshore Championships.

Des Nevitt is hoping to go better than the bronze he picked up in 2018 in this year’s British Rowing Offshore Championships in Exmouth this weekend Picture: DARRY BYRNE
Des Nevitt is hoping to go better than the bronze he picked up in 2018 in this year’s British Rowing Offshore Championships in Exmouth this weekend Picture: DARRY BYRNE

The 6km event is a qualifier for the World Championships in Portugal later this year, with the top five in each class, except the Masters, becoming seeded entries for Great Britain.

Jersey Rowing Club member Des Nevitt and vice captain Gary Briggs are competing in the men’s single scull class, the only one to have a 4km heat.

A bronze medallist last time out, Nevitt was also the fastest British rower in his class at the 2018 championships in Poole.

‘I’m excited to be giving the British championships another shot and hope to go one step better this time, but in the same breath, giving my competitors the utmost respect,’ he said.

‘I feel I’ve trained well for this event, choosing specific races which made me focus on this one. I’ve also structured my training slightly differently this year, solely for this event.

‘I’ve looked at the race and courses for the elimination round and finals. It seems navigation is going to be key here, as well as strong rowing. I suppose this is coastal rowing.’

Nevitt has previously represented Great Britain at the World Championships. He is the holder of all but one of the Island’s men’s single scull records.

Briggs, rowing as part of Project Gold, a Jersey Sports Foundation and Jersey Rowing Club initiative, is competing in his first full season rowing single scull.

‘It has been an amazing journey training to get to this level, I’m hoping to do the coaches, club and Island justice when we’re out on the water. It promises to be a fantastic experience and I’m hoping to line up alongside Des in the final.’

Head coach of Project Gold Rick Rouille is competing alongside Paul Coutanche in the men’s double scull. The defending bronze medallists are hoping to medal again. Rouille said: ‘I’m very competitive and want to do well, but I will get more enjoyment seeing the girls and guys I’ve coached this past year perform well and hopefully medal.’

Jersey’s first ever entry in the Ladies quadruple scull are a big medal prospect in a competitive class.

They have been shattering JRC records this year.

However, they have had to make last-minute crew changes.

Cox Tracy Mourant said: ‘We’re hugely disappointed that Rosie [Adamson] can’t make it as we’re a close team and have been working hard to get to the Brits. We are extremely lucky that Flo Thomas can step in at short notice. She subbed in with us for two races and fits in to the crew very easily.

‘It has certainly been a rollercoaster season already but the challenges have made us all even more determined to represent our Island and do well.’

Team Mourant are Jersey Rowing Club’s fastest boat on the water this season and took line honours in last week’s Sark to Jersey. They have also been affected by the current global pandemic, resulting in crew changes throughout the year and it will be no different this weekend.

Crew member Michael Rive said: ‘We lost a crew member due to travel restrictions and couldn’t find a suitable rower based in Jersey, so we asked a Jersey-born rower, who now lives in the UK, to step in and help us out and to represent the island.’

Atlantic rower Rufus Scholefield, who was part of the GB rowing team that won gold in the International University Sports Federation Rowing World Championships in Shanghai, will be joining the Men’s quadruple scull.

Rive said: ‘We would love a medal, but after the last few weeks, just getting on the start line would be great. Will [Le Quelenec], Chris [Morshead] and I got a bronze medal last time we were there and it would be incredible to at least go one better.’

Ian Blandin and Sue Clinton are competing in the BROC ‘s mixed double scull class. The pair have been rowing well this year and could place high up the field if the conditions are rough.

The races differ from JRC races as they all start from the beach and have a deep water finish.

Blandin said: ‘The race start beach drops off very steeply and it could be interesting jumping into the boat. From the beach you race out towards the headland, then back towards the estuary. The large sand banks will create an estuary with fast following cross tides and this is where it gets really interesting and where local knowledge will help to the finish.’

One Jersey crew has also entered the Men’s quadruple scull (Masters). This is an event for a crew with an average age over 50 and Jersey’s entry features former Commonwealth triathlete Tim Rogers.

Crew member Paul Bradbury said: ‘Initially we had no intention of entering the BROC. However we’ve had a good season so far against young crews that are expected to do quite well, not winning but close for our age group. As the Brits have an event known as Masters D [over 50] we decided to have a go at crews closer to our age group [Masters F - over sixty]. Although we are still giving away years, it will be a good test.’

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