This year Nic Bourne and Patrick Gaskins took part in the guelling Eddystone Challenge. They raced in a coastal double. As the [edited] article below from the Herald Express describes, they did rather well.

The Eddystone Challenge is a race from Plymouth to the Eddystone Lighthouse in the Western Approaches of the English Channel and back, a distance of 28 miles in open sea.

The race is open to any paddled or rowed boat - quad sculls, sweep oars, Celtic Longboats, Pilot Gigs and kayaks.

More than 120 competitors from as far as the Midlands and Wales gathered on the start line for what turned out to be a tough mental and physical challenge in fresh south westerly winds and heavy rolling sea conditions.

Torquay Rowing Club entered a coastal quad, the first time the club has been represented in this challenge.

The crew were quick to break away from the crowded start at the Mount Batten Breakwater, following the lead double kayak and the Teign Scullers pair, Patrick Gaskins and Nic Bourne.

It was clear that the kayaks were revelling in the confused sea off the Plymouth Breakwater and the locally crewed double kayak was already three minutes ahead at this early stage.

An intense battle ensued between Torquay and Teign Scullers all the way out to the Eddystone with only seconds separating them as both boats crashed through white capped waves for almost three hours.

Only half the fleet was to make it to the lighthouse within the time limit but those managing to round it had a hair-raising experience.

The waves were cascading over what appeared an endless line of jagged rocks. The colossal tower with helipad on top loomed ominously overhead and it took nerves of steel to make the decision to turn, not knowing if a rock was just under the surface.

In the mayhem, one boat was holed while in another a crew member was taken off suffering from severe sea sickness.

The return leg of the race had an entirely different challenge in store as crews struggled to keep control surfing down large waves without being rolled over or pitch-poled into the wave ahead.

In particular coxswains in the longer boats had their work cut out keeping a straight line.

The smaller boats were able to capitalise on the ability to maintain surfing speeds all the way into Plymouth Sound, pulling away from the fleet in true rollercoaster conditions.

After 5hrs, 10mins and 47secs the leading double kayak crossed the Mount Batten finishing line, only 2mins 4secs ahead of Teign Scullers - the first rowing boat - closely followed by the single kayaks and a coastal sweep oar four from Monmouth who had made a spirited finish in the closing stages.

In coastal rowing terms, the Eddystone Challenge represents the longest and most challenging of races.

More than half the teams this year found out that even excellent teamwork, preparation, navigation and mental and physical stamina do not guarantee finishing.

After a well deserved rest the Teign Scullers crews will continue with their training in preparation for the World Coastal Championships to be held in Plymouth from October 23 to 25.

[Nic and Patrick]
Nic and Patrick