Late October saw the end of a season’s racing in the Coastal Rowing League, writes Graham Hurley. The final regatta took place at Torquay, but a week earlier Exmouth Rowing Club entered their all-conquering women’s ‘A’ quad in the Swiss Championships, held on Lac Léman at Lausanne.

At this curtain-raiser to the 2023 finale, cox Joey Stafford drove his crew hard over the start-line to establish a deeply promising lead by the first turn-buoy. Alas, Marie Guingouain, rowing at bow, lost control of her blade in rough water. The oar, nearly severed, ended up trapped in the rigger and for the rest of the race the ERC quad, with Marie down to a single blade, did their best to keep their lead into a wall of wind blowing down the lake. Sheer guts took them the full six kilometres but they had to finally surrender line honours to the winning crew.

Stroke Anna Childs was far from downhearted: “That was a great day. We got a huge silver medal, made of Swiss chocolate. Winning a silver on seven oars? Not bad.”

A week later, with all eight oars, the news got better. At the Torquay regatta, Anna Childs, Milly Currans, Florence Lock, Marie Guingouain, plus cox Joey Stafford topped off a heroic season by posting yet another victory, with ERC’s Mens’ A and B crews coming home second and fourth in the coxed open quads. In the Women coxless doubles, Anna Childs and Marie Guingouain snatched a narrow one-second win, while ERC fought keenly for second place in the mixed coxed quad.

More wins strengthened ERC’s position with Marie Guingouain, Florence Lock and Anna Childs securing first, second and fifth places respectively. The racing over, the newly-donated Hilary Bastone trophy was shared between the season’s overall singles winners, Bob Cotell and Anna Childs. ERC ended the season in second overall place, behind Plymouth Mayflower.

ERC’s club captain Jon Houghton said: “We couldn’t have expected more support at Torquay from handling the boats onshore to repairing rudders and foot-stretchers out on the water. We even blooded one of our new guys by pitching him into two races, not bad for a novice. A brilliant day and a brilliant season.”