A group from BSCC joined in with the annual Row & Gig race at Maldon run in aid of the RNLI by the Maldon Little Ships Club. Most of the BSCC folk were in a bellboat: Ant Wright, Joe Fitzpatrick, Wayne Stephens, Angela Aldam, and Deborah, Dave and Jacque Cayford - with lots of extra muscle provided by Maurice Zoppellini of HYMB and his son Dan. Chris Sze and Steve Whipp also took part in kayaks.
As usual, there was a wide diversity amongst the 52 boats taking part. The event is increasingly popular amongst rowing gigs, who now have their own 6km course. Everyone else (including many types of rowing boats, inflatable dingies, canoes, kayaks and even at least one stand-up-paddleboard) was on the 4km course.
There was an excellent atmosphere, with most crews making a spectacular effort with the fancy dress. Quite a lot of spectators turned out to watch from the quay.
All the boats gathered off Maldon Prom to wait for their respective starting hooters. Jacque got everyone on the bellboat warmed up with her sing-along (captured on this video by Chris!) Once the boat was under way, Jacque also proved to be a very able helm and the boat was soon flying along. Despite having had no opportunity to practice, the bellboat crew managed a pretty tight turn at the buoy and were heading back towards the start when a closed-cockpit kayaker capsized directly beside. The RNLI were only yards away but being well-trained in race etiquette there really was no option but for the BSCC crew to stop and sort the chap out. Despite a very efficient rescue, valuable time had been lost and a monumental effort was then needed to make it up. After a final 200 yard battle with a C2, the Stortford bellboat was pronounced the winner of the fastest mixed crew class.
A bit of confusion over race number on the day meant that Chris was not recognised as the fastest kayak until the the results were officially published later (see MLSC website). It wasn't really about the competition though. The organisers kept everybody safe and everyone had a marvellous time.
In total the event raised over £10K for the RNLI - the greatest total in the event's 39 year history. Stortford's Chris Sze raised a staggering £1360 single-handed and won the Panther "Crown" Cup for the biggest donation raised by an individual. Big well done Chris on this impressive achievement!