It was a case of survival of the fittest at St Neots Rowing Club’s annual regatta.
More than 1,600 competitors from across the country had to battle strong winds and heavy rain during two packed days of racing on the River Great Ouse – which featured rowers ranging in age from 13 to 74!
The home club enjoyed success at their own event thanks to two Sunday victories and four runner-up spots.
Ali Brown and Helen Knowles stormed to victory in the women’s masters E/F double sculls over the 500m course, romping clear of rivals Oundle to repeat their triumph from the previous year.
Etilly Pigg was also celebrating on the Sunday after a convincing win in the women’s junior 16 single sculls category. Strong rowing throughout the day saw her ease to wins over opponents from Broxbourne, Oundle and, in the final, Nottingham.
Other St Neots rowers just missing out on silverware were Adam Williams, who lost by three quarters of a length in Sunday’s open single sculls (band one) category, and Alex Johnson and Dom Holdaway, who went down by the same margin in Sunday’s junior 17 double sculls event.
Racing over a 1,000m course the previous day, Anna Shreeves progressed to the final of the women’s single sculls (band one), but couldn’t overhaul her strong opponent from Isle of Ely.
Brown and Knowles only just missed out on a second win when they teamed up with Lynne Taylor, Marlene Taylor and cox Deb Hellett for Saturday’s women’s masters C/D/E coxed fours.
They cruised through their semi-final, but lost by about two lengths in the final against a Milton Keynes crew.
“We have to say a big ‘well done’ to all the competitors who battled horrid conditions over much of the weekend,” said St Neots Rowing Club chairman Trevor Rickwood,
“The weather didn’t dampen their spirits and people left having enjoyed two days of great competition.
“Huge thanks must go to all club members – and many friends and family – who gave up their time to make sure everything ran smoothly and we can’t forget everyone on the organising committee, led brilliantly once again by Wendy Hooper, without whom the regatta simply would not have happened.”
Other local victories at St Neots were provided by rowers from St Ives.
Lauren Maddison took the women’s junior 17 single sculls honours over 1,000m while Sam Hasted and Rory Crouch triumphed at junior 15 double sculls level over 500m.
Brampton talent Poppy Shipley also enjoyed two victories.
She teamed up with Annie Worth, another member of the Great Britain World Class Start Programme, to triumph in the women’s junior 16 double sculls.
And Shipley, a Hinchingbrooke School pupil, then beat Worth in the final of women’s junior 16 single sculls!
The successes at St Neots followed hot on the heels of a bronze medal at the British Junior Championships the previous weekend.
Shipley and regular partner Charlotte Bolton teamed up to win bronze in the women’s junior 15 double sculls in that event.