Sark to Jersey race slides into a new era

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Fifty crews have entered and the Lloyds TSB-sponsored race promises to provide the usual close competition with participants from Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and France in 21 fixed and 29 sliding seat boats.The fixed seat classes start 30 minutes ahead of the others and, with favourable weather conditions forecast some boats could break the two-hour barrier for the gruelling 15-mile course.The largest class, the coxed fours sliding seats, is likely to be the most fiercely-fought with strong competition from Guernsey crews MS Fitness Factor and Stainless Steel Fabrications.

Jersey’s fastest crews, Crusader Laboratories and Deutsche Bank, will need to put in strong performances.With high temperatures forecast crews will have to pace themselves, even so, with strong competition likely from the Citicabs team it’s likely the first boats will have to be home in under two hours.The Ming’s Dynasty team – Sue Cubbon, Michaela Page, Susie Hill, Pat Young and cox Tina Tidy – converted from fixed to sliding seats this year and will be hoping to keep well ahead of their Guernsey rivals.

In the coxed fours fixed, 2002 outright winners and current record holders Pegasus Financial Services start as clear favourites.

Derek Morin, Mark Gallichan, John Campbell, Ricky Rouillé and cox Tabitha Vincent-de la Haye will be out to repeat last year’s first boat home success although the chasing sliding seaters will be trying to make up the 30-minute deficit.Six novice teams have entered this year, among them St Ouen’s Youth Club, Home Buyers Insurance, Ashburton Jersey, Lloyds TSB and Fitness First, with Fitness First being given more than a run for their money by the other all-women crew of Joanna and Emma Chambers, Aly Linder, Madeline King and experienced cox Annie Quérée.Former solo Atlantic rower John Searson and partner Paul Le Gros hope to have the advantage, in the men’s sliding seat pairs, over rivals Rob McAllister and Tim Le Gallais after McAllister’s brief break from rowing to win a sailboarding gold medal for Jersey at the Island Games, while the recent pairing of brothers Richard and Gary Mayo, Carteret Rowing Club’s Pierre Legoupil and Pierrick Ledard, and Patrick Jones and Richard Barnes, intend to be close behind.Eight-times winners in various combinations, Christine Pallot and Frankie Le Quelenec are expected to produce another strong performance, as are the other Jersey entries of Paula Wells and Shona Wilson, and Sandra Tanguy and Rachel Wilkinson.In the men’s fixed seat pairs novice rowers Colin Huelin and John Chinn have hit form and will hope they can continue their success over close – and more experienced – rivals Shaun Bosio and Andrew Eeles in the Jersey Telecom boat.

Mixed pairs Sam Horsfall and Matthew Lucas, Helen and Norman Barker and Peter Jennet and Sandrine L’hotellier will be battling it out in the mixed pairs class.In the singles fixed seats John Fowler and Colin Hidrio should put in strong performances while former Atlantic rower Ian Anderson should be favourite in the sliding seat class.Fixed seat boats leave Sark’s Dixcart Bay at 12.30 pm to be followed out by the sliding seaters at 1 o’clock with first boats expected at the finish at Bonne Nuit Harbour from 2.30 pm.

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