ROWING: St Neots stars rise to the daunting Dutch challenge in 100km event

The St Neots Rowing Club coxed quad are, from the left, Kieron Marriner, Karl Zwetsloot, Debra Helle

The St Neots Rowing Club coxed quad are, from the left, Kieron Marriner, Karl Zwetsloot, Debra Hellett (cox), Richard Bray and Dave Cullen. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Two crews from St Neots Rowing Club have completed one of the sport’s toughest challenges – the Ringvaart 100km marathon in Holland.

The St Neots Rowing Club duo of Dom Chapman (left) and Fergus Mitchell-Dwelly at the Ringvaart event

The St Neots Rowing Club duo of Dom Chapman (left) and Fergus Mitchell-Dwelly at the Ringvaart event in Holland. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

The men's quad of Dave Cullen, Kieron Marriner, Karl Zwetsloot and Richard Bray, coxed by Debra Hellett, crossed the line after 12 hours and 23 minutes of rowing. That placed them 97th out of 164 crews who took part.

Their time was later corrected to 11 hours and 13 minutes to account for checkpoints along the way, where competitors could eat, hydrate, stretch and even enjoy a beer during an extended rest at the 88km mark.

For most of the quad, this was their second attempt at the Ringvaart marathon. Only Bray wasn't part of a crew that trained for the same event in 2016 . . . only to see it cancelled because of heavy storms.

But they made it onto the Dutch water on this occasion and the 100km route even provided a poignant moment for Zwetsloot when it passed through his father's home town of Hillegom.

The St Neots Rowing Club coxed quad during the Ringvaart 100km event in Holland. Picture: SUBMITTED

The St Neots Rowing Club coxed quad during the Ringvaart 100km event in Holland. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant


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"We were proud to fly the flag for St Neots, but rowing through my ancestral home added a different dimension for me," said Karl.

"We wanted to finish in the top 100 and we achieved that - even though we had to bale out our boat at one point, after it was flooded by the wash from a large passing barge."

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The St Neots men's pair of Dom Chapman and Fergus Mitchell-Dwelly crossed the line in 11 hours and 31 minutes - corrected to 10 hours and 51 minutes - which earned them 65th place overall in an event dominated by larger boats, including many eights.

The duo only decided to enter the event about four weeks earlier and so had little time to switch from their normal sprint training to long-distance outings.

They

admitted to rowing too fast in the early stages, rather than pacing themselves, but gritted their teeth to achieve a creditable time for a crew of two.

Club captain Stuart Williams said: "I was thrilled to see two St Neots crews complete the 100km Ringvaart this year.

"After the disappointment of two years ago, when the race was cancelled because of poor weather, our crews finally got to take on one of the most challenging endurance rowing events on the calendar."

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