James Ramsden and Ian Blandin, who became the first ever pairing to cross the finishing line first, took a massive seven minutes off the previous best time recorded 11 years ago by Jersey’s Ricky Rouillé and Jez Baxter.Blandin said: ‘We were well up for it this year after missing the record by six seconds last year.
I knew we would go close because the weather was in our favour but to beat it by seven minutes is simply incredible.’Blandin, who also holds the fours and sixes records, jumped into the boat with pairs partner Ramsden when a member of their Crusader Laboratories fours withdrew injured.The weather forecast for the return was a major factor in 15 of the 36 entries backing out, with only one of the ten Guernsey crews willing to face the forecast strong winds.With Jersey’s top fours teams having pulled out – Crusader with injury and Deutsche Bank inexplicably shortly before the start – interest turned toward Mark Ginisty’s Belgian team, Dave Perrio’s Guernsey crew and Jersey’s Citicabs crew led by Bob Salkeld.Blandin and Ramsden and McCallister and Le Gallais made the most of the large running swell to pull out an early lead.
Stainless Steel took a too northerly route and they were two minutes behind at the half-way stage as Citicabs and the Belgians were almost abreast.Visibility, which had not been good, deteriorated approaching the Carteret coastline necessitating total reliance on compass courses.
As the boats merged towards the Carteret estuary the Belgian’s stopped momentarily and allowed Citicabs through thereby depriving the enthusiastic crowd a close finish.However this was supplied when the Ginisty-built Jersey sixes were passed by Lee Wells’s team on the finishing straight.
The applause could be heard half-a-mile upstream.For the team rowing the 40-foot sixes boat there were mixed opinions as to whether they would row it again while Matthew Lucas and Sam Horsfall (in a fixed seat boat) were definate by saying that rowing in heavy seas was not for them.Citicabs fours captain Rob Salkeld said: ‘I was surprised that we were so far head of the Jersey and Guernsey teams at the turn, especially Stainless Steel as they beat us in the Sark to Jersey.’I was expecting them to haul us in but the opposite happened due partly to surfing some large swells and the running battle we were having with the Belgians.
It’s our first win of the season and it would have been sweeter had Deutsche Bank been out there and we had beaten them for a second time.’