The 2020 Rowing Season kicked off at the weekend without a boat on the water as the Guernsey Rowing Club hosted a ‘virtual’ race.
Rowing, along with all other sports, has seen huge disruption to pre-season training with all activity on the water restricted as part of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.
‘We should have started on Saturday with the season opener which involves a 3,100m sprint from St Sampson’s harbour to St Peter Port,’ said GRC Captain, Sam de Kooker.
‘Obviously with all racing postponed and no opportunity to get out on the water to train we decided to hold a virtual race instead.’
Competitors set up rowing machines in their gardens, garages or front rooms and joined the virtual race via the video conferencing app Zoom. Entries and performances were verified by competitors photographing their ergo screens and submitting them for scrutiny before the results were announced.
‘It was great to see so many people joining in, either competing or providing vocal support from our ‘virtual guard boats’, said Sam.
‘We were even joined by competitors from our sister Island of Jersey and friends from the Carteret Rowing Club in France.
‘In total we had 25 men and 12 women who completed the virtual race with honours going to James Plumley in the men’s race with a cracking time of 10.10.5 for the 3,100m sprint. Rosemary Satchwell from the Jersey Rowing Club was the top woman with a time of 12.19.2.’
The Club is hoping to continue to hold virtual races until such time as restrictions have been eased to allow teams to get back out on the water. The next race is on 6th May with a slightly longer 5,500m distance to tackle.
‘It’s been a tough start to the season and like most sports we are taking a big financial hit through lack of membership subscriptions and sponsorship whilst continuing to incur costs,’ said Sam.
‘We appreciate the support of the Guernsey Sports Commission and the work they are doing to ensure the economic impact of lockdown on all sports is well understood and acknowledged by the States of Guernsey as well as recognising the influence that sport has on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
‘We hope to back on the water soon but until then we will continue to think of creative and innovative ways to engage with our membership and continue the Guernsey Rowing Club’s reputation as one of Guernsey’s friendliest and most sociable sporting organisations.’