Guernsey Press

Rowers looking forward to long-awaited return to France

A turbulent period for Guernsey rowers could end with the Gorey to Carteret’s long-awaited return on Saturday.

The Nigellas have been training hard ahead of the Gorey to Carteret's planned comeback. (Picture by Martin Gray, 32359908)

The prestigious 28km race is set to run for the first time since 2019 and that is just what rowers deserve after a stream of weather-induced cancellations, which included the Sark to Jersey being pushed back and then outright scrapped for 2023.

Last weekend’s Rocquaine Regatta row was also dropped.

Guernsey Rowing Club captain Ben Vaudin said the cancellation of these major events was ‘very disappointing’.

‘But in terms of the calendar of races, and having a full championship, it’s only two races,’ he said in sanguine fashion.

The Gorey to Carteret provides a calendar-defining endurance challenge for certain crews, and takes rowers from Jersey’s east coast out to a seaside resort in Normandy, France.

Top quad TPA’s recent withdrawal – due to member inavailability – has dealt a major blow to Guernsey’s hope of an overall victory.

The current TPA team share strong similarities with the men’s quad that won the last edition under the Out of the Blue alias in 2019.

But the impressive racing shell they used to win four years ago will be making its return under the command of a strong mixed crew – one that could push for a class title.

Vaudin, who is among that crew, called the race’s return ‘really exciting’.

‘Everybody is really looking forward to going,’ he said after the last three editions were lost to Covid and organisational issues.

‘It’s a really good race – being able to row to a different country is a big thing.

‘The club is really accommodating and really friendly, and there’s a fantastic social event afterwards. It’s nice that you can mix with rowers from all sorts of different clubs.’

Women’s quad Nigellas have been using this race as a major focus, while men’s doubles Swoffers (Pierre Mahy and Chris Markham) have been putting in the hours and provide another class title contender.

Briggs and Pearce (James Briggs and Paul Pearce) provide strong backup in the men’s doubles.

Vaudin feels that the Guernsey crews could be in the mix but provided a wise warning: ‘With French rowing, you never know who’s going to turn up.’

There is still lingering uncertainty about the weather, admits the captain.

‘The forecast is changeable for the weekend,’ he said.

‘You do not know. Hopefully we will get the chance to go and do some racing.’