FAST times, factor 50 sunscreen and fierce inter-insular rivalry are set to be features of this year’s Sark to Jersey race, which takes place this weekend.
More than 100 people are registered to start the 2022 version of the race, first staged in 1967, as 30 boats set off from Dixcart Bay in Sark at 10.30am on Saturday.
Stuart Richford, club captain of Jersey Rowing Club, said that while numbers of participants had yet to return to pre-Covid levels, the indications were that there would be stiff competition between Jersey and Guernsey.
The rival islands will once again contest the Le Poidevin Trophy, which goes to the team with the best record in those classes – out of a total of eight – with entrants from both sides.
Richford said: ‘Guernsey’s men have put together a team with what looks to be their best four rowers, who I’d expect to perform very strongly, and they also have a good ladies four, so I expect that one will be very closely fought as well.’
The 2021 men’s race was won by the Mourant team from Jersey, whose ‘Jaws’ boat finished 78 seconds ahead of the two-hour mark, and half a minute in front of Guernsey’s Offshore Group.
Conditions described by Richford as ‘stable’, with northerly winds of force 3 or 4 and ‘reasonable’ tides, should allow for some fast times to be posted, he added.
‘I’d expect some reasonably fast times and would think the winners would break two hours, but not threatening the record [1 hour 47 minutes and 13 seconds, set by Jersey Logicalis in 2014] unless something spectacular happens,’ he added.
After the Covid pandemic stopped the race in 2020 and curbed organisers’ ability to operate business as usual last year, the virus has still been a factor in the 2022 build-up.
Richford added: ‘Covid is still having a general impact, and more specifically some of those who rowed for Jersey in the British Championships recently, including a strong ladies masters crew, have unfortunately had to withdraw.’
The Highvern ladies team, another to perform creditably in the British Championships with two novice rowers, will be another crew to watch, while Richford will be part of the Sunterra Rogues mixed team.
Brothers Josh and Adam Le Lere, both aged in their 20s, will continue a family connection with Sark–Jersey that dates back to their late grandfather Adrian Willis taking part in the very first race in 1967.
Mr Willis last competed in 2014, while his daughters Julie and Amanda, twin brother Martin and nephews Jerry and Nick are among other family members to have competed over the years.
The Le Lere brothers will be racing in the boat named the Willis Brothers after their grandfather and uncle, one of four new boats purchased by Jersey Rowing Club this summer thanks to support from sponsors.
Adrian Willis died in 2019, aged 73, and in recognition of the vital role played by coxes in the Sark–Jersey, the Willis Trophy will be presented to the winning cox during the post-race prizegiving event at The Royal Yacht in St Helier.
The first boats are expected at Bonne Nuit on Jersey’s north coast from approximately 12.20pm on Saturday.
Factbox – Sark-Jersey forecast‘Winds will be northerly at force 3 or 4, and the sea is set to be slight with only one foot of swell.‘It’ll be sunny and very warm: about 21°C in Sark and reaching a high of 24°C in Jersey during the afternoon.‘The UV level is high at this time of year and will reach 7 or 8, while the sea temperature is currently 17.1°C, which is around average.’Sharon Merren, duty forecaster, Jersey Met.