On the 2nd Of July 2011 an intrepid composite crew from Teign Scullers and Tiverton Rowing Club set out from Plymouth to take up the challenge of the 28th Annual Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club's Eddystone Lighthouse race. This 28 miles (nautical, we have since been told, which is 32 miles/52 kilometers!) from the Mount Batten pier, out and back to the lighthouse comes with the promise of being one of the toughest physical and mental challenges available to offshore rowers.

Thirty four boats, with a total of seventy four rowers and paddlers, in single and double kayaks, single rowing sculls, coastal quads and pilot gigs lined up in Plymouth Sound in near perfect sea conditions and a kind south easterly wind to keep the brave crews cool.

Teign Scullers' coastal boat, Endymion was quick off the start line and rapidly pulled away into the lead with her crew of cox John L (river Teign Rowing), Crew Organiser David N (Teign Scullers), Morag VM (Teign Scullers/Tiverton RC), Anneke E (Tiverton RC) and Mick C (Teign Scullers). Mick's natural fitness and ability came to the fore when he was called upon with 24 hours' notice having never rowed with the crew before! Anneke, who prior to training sessions had only ever rowed on inland water, showed her true talent for the sport and took to offshore rowing like a duck to water!

After a brilliant start and relishing the number one spot for a short time, some of the quicker kayaks soon overtook and put some distance between themselves and Endymion, setting the pace with an impressive lead to the finish. The Bradford-on-Avon K2 team achieved a new record of 3 hours 53 minutes and 26 seconds!

The TS/TRC team found themselves chased from the start by a men's gig team from Pendeen, who I must add had very kindly provided the crew with some items that were missing from the safety equipment list. Without them we would not have been allowed on the water! Nevertheless, grateful as the team was, a race is a race and after teasing them for a couple of hours, putting serious pushes in when they got too close for comfort, after the turn around the lighthouse they soon became a dot on the horizon along with the rest of the crewed boats.

David set an incredibly steady pace of around 6 knots which he managed to maintain on average for the full 28 nautical miles. With this consistency and John's endless encouragement and deep knowledge of the sea, the rest of the crew followed through with ease on the entire round trip.

A few tense moments interrupted the pace when, not once but twice, a blade popped out of the gate while having drinks breaks. On one occasion a bow seat blade dropped into the water and travelled rapidly down the side of boat. Fantastic team work by the crew, with shouts of "Blade in the water!" rippling down the crew and John's quick reaction to retrieve it and pass it back down the boat, you would hardly have noticed it had happened!

The only incident that really caused any angst to some members of the crew was when an aircraft carrier loomed on the horizon and bore down on the little boat with disturbing rapidity. Once again, the crew put their faith entirely in the cox, albeit craning to the side and scanning his face for signs of concern of which there was never a hint! The SECOND time they crossed her bow, with alarming closeness, she omitted five loud blasts, which I understand from John means something rather rude which probably requires little explanation here!

For the first time in the history of the race, all the boats made it around the lighthouse within the time limit which this year was extended from 3 hours to 3.5 hours.

The first rowing boat home, Endymion stormed over the finish line at an incredibly impressive rate, in a time of 4hrs 30mins with equal split times of 2hrs 15mins out and back. After hugs all round and great comparing of blisters, the elated crew, nursing surprisingly few achy bits and injuries, had enough bravado to say, "We'll be back next year to improve on that time!" As one ill advised member put it, "It was a doddle!". Let's see what Poseidon has to say about that next year!