Rowing club tops stunning season

THE town's most successful sporting club has crowned a stunning summer of glory with a series of superb performances at the 50th South Coast Championships.

Bexhill Rowing Club followed up a season which featured no less than seven CARA championship triumphs, countless aggregate cups and wins from as far as Oxford and Bideford by dominating the annual end-of-season gathering between the region's three rowing associations.

The local crews chalked up four wins and four 3rd place finishes at Dartmouth on Saturday. "It went better than expected," said club stalwart Matt Mitchell. "It's an incredible achievement and we did it representing the town."

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The biggest win of the day came in the senior championship race for the Bideford Bowl with the crew of Chris Mizen, Matt and Mark Mitchell, Kieran Cahill and cox Callum Payne going one better than last year.

Lining up against the best the coast could offer, the crews headed down the River Dart at a blistering pace with Exeter enjoying a slight lead over Bexhill and Ryde only a third of a length down. At the 800m mark Bexhill upped the pace to take a 3ft lead and never relinquished top spot to win the most prized race in coastal rowing for only the second time in the club's history.

Bexhill also triumphed in the junior-senior championship following a fine performance by the A crew of Phil and Nick McCorry, Matt Hellier, Doug Holdaway and cox Callum Payne. The club also secured 3rd spot - half a length off 2nd - courtesy of the B crew of Toby Mathews, Ben Muggridge, Joe Pellet and Ashley Cahill.

The club celebrated a similar result in an exciting men's veteran invitation final with the A quartet of Dave Jones, Steve Bickers, Steve Hopkins, Glen Payne and cox Callum Payne retaining the open title, but only just as the B crew of Bob Balchin, Graham Dawes, Clive Bingham, Paul Dawes and cox Mark Mitchell pushed them all the way to finish 3rd behind runners-up BTC.

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The novice men's crew of Doug Thomas, Tony Page, Ricardo Picard and Pete Hooper finished 3rd in their final, as did the senior men's invitation crew of Nick Woolgar, Chris Williams, Al Kinross and Alex Deacon.

The ladies' crew of Becky Frost, Jess Campbell, Holly Makin, Lucy Sangster and cox Phil McCorry finished 5th in the final of the junior coxed four, as did the senior ladies' quartet of Vicky Castrol, Hannah Ruddock, Rebecca Dawes and Jemma Cropper.

Prior to the championships, the three associations agreed to hold the inaugural South Coast Junior Regatta and the first winners of the under-18 coxed four event was the all-Bexhill College crew of Frost, Campbell, Makin and Sangster.

Bexhill's superb day helped CARA win the title of best association of the day and Nick McCorry was given the honour of collecting the shield.