Tees Rowing Club The Slipway North Shore Stockton-on-Tees TS18 2NL

British Rowing Team GB Beach Sprint trials

British Rowing held their trials for Team GB beach sprints at Tees Rowing Club and Redcar beach on 10th and 11th June 2023. 

What an exciting event to come to the area! So how did this come about? I am afraid it was my “fault”! I Tweeted about looking into starting up coastal rowing at Redcar with a couple of my Tees Rowing Club buddies. Unbeknown to me, the Head of Olympic Pathways at British Rowing, Tom Pattichis, saw my Tweet, and had a look at Redcar beach on Google maps. He couldn’t believe what a fabulous beach we have! Next thing, he was emailing our own Kate O’Sullivan to ask about Tees Rowing Club, Redcar, and me, and Kate told me this. From that point, I was determined they were going to come to us to do their trials, and set about sorting out a site and venue at Redcar, leaving the Tees side of things to Kate and Alan Pearce to organise. 

Hopefully, you will have heard Kate O’Sullivan speaking about the growing importance and format of beach sprints on Radio Tees https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0fpxmw0?partner=uk.co.bbc&origin=share-mobile(an hour in, after Justin Bieber song….). This event has got rowing back into the Commonwealth Games after an absence of 40 years, and there is to be an announcement on 20th June to say if it will be a new Olympic sport. So I felt it was important for us to be involved in this here in the North East. Look at our fabulous river and facilities here at Tees! Look at the wonderful Redcar beach and TunedIn centre  (where there was space for ergs and biometric measuring, along with showers and toilets)!

I am proud to say, the event was organised in record time. And even the weather was kind to us, albeit a bit windy. However, this provided a good test for potential Team GB athletes, who would be going to Bali to the World Championships next, and the surf can be pretty big there.

The format of the event had some work at Tees – a 500m sprint on flat water, there was an erg test, timed running sprints on the sand over 40 m and then two timed attempts at the actual rowing beach sprint event itself. 

In addition to some brilliant volunteers from Tees and Whitby Coastal Rowing Club helping with the event, we had some Tees Rowing Club entries; Lucy Freeman (Senior Women) and Sefi Ormston (U19). Lucy ranked 5th in her Senior Women group event, and her running sprint was the fastest time of the day for women. Sefi impressed me as she gave this new event a bash, but unfortunately had a technical issue with her boat seat jamming. These ladies have hearts like lions for tackling the choppy sea conditions without any fear. They both went flat out and did very well in events new to them, and I think we will be seeing more of both of them in future beach sprints. Well done, ladies! (Full results here; gb-beach-sprint-selection-trial-1) Alas, James Renn (U19) also entered, and is a very promising athlete, but couldn’t attend this event due to work commitments with Cleveland Fire Brigade. Next time, James! 

My next priority was making sure British Rowing bring more beach sprints events to us in future. And I am happy to quote Mark Dunstan, who is British Rowing Beach Sprints team manager….”As we discussed on Sunday, I felt little could be improved about the Redcar and Teesside combination as a venue. The whole weekend ran really smoothly. Hopefully now that we’ve gone through the process with the Council things will be administratively more straightforward for future visits. And I’m certainly an advocate for future visits!”

Watch this space- and our own budding beach sprint athletes- in future!