Rowers’ African ambition

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A TEAM from Jersey is set to on the rest of the Commonwealth at rowing beach sprints in Namibia next week.

The Commonwealth Rowing Association Beach Sprints Championships, which has attracted entries from the UK, Australia, Canada and African nations, will feature Des Nevitt, Natacha Searson, Sarah Earles and Joshua Watkins from 2-4 December, competing in solo, double and team events.

The event could well provide the quartet with a boost in the long run, with elite competitions such as this likely to be used as qualification markers for the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia, which will include coastal rowing for the first time.

Searson, Earles and Watkins will all be using the event to build international experience, while Nevitt will be looking to add to the growing collection of accolades, having won national titles earlier this year and competed for Great Britain at the 2021 and 2022 Beach Sprints World Championships.

Nevitt’s boat handler, Ian Blandin, who has travelled with him to many UK and European events, added: ‘Des is Jersey’s best rower and is on top form. He has spent the last 18 months training with Great Britain’s coastal rowing development squad, travelling backwards and forwards to training camps all season.’

Commonwealth Rowing Association president Peter Cookson said: ‘We are delighted to have a team from Jersey compete in this event. This is a step along the road to representation in the Commonwealth Games, with the inclusion of beach sprints being recently announced. It will undoubtedly benefit any athletes from Jersey wishing to begin the journey to Victoria 2026.’

Jersey team manager John Searson said: ‘With the announcement last month that coastal rowing will be included in the 2026 Victoria Commonwealth Games, we felt it was important for Jersey to have a presence.

‘Des will be Jersey flag bearer, will inspire the rest of the team and, as well as other athletes in Jersey, will show what can be achieved. The rest of the team, two of whom have competed internationally previously, are also looking forward to this new challenge and helping raise the profile of the sport in Jersey.’

Nevitt has also had a personal message of support from Olympic Games gold medallist Helen Glover duing his fundraising drive for the event.

Beach sprints involve head-to-head racing with a sprint from the beach to the boat and then a 250m row out to buoys and back. The race ends with one rower from each team sprinting to a finish line on the beach.

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