And the introduction, for the first time, of sliding seat boats to the race meant that from last year’s 29 fixed seat entries, this year there were more than 50 boats registered to take part.Next at the finish were the veteran Guernsey pair of Brian Staples and Ian Atkinson in the fixed seat pairs class with first sliding seat boat home the Crusade Laboratories four.First sliding seat pair at Bonne Nuit were the JRC’s Paul Le Gros and John Searson in an impressive time of 2 hours 1 minute 52 sec, which put them into third place overall.How fast they might have finished, however, is another matter, as several rowers were taken aback when they found that the guard boat off the Paternosters was in the wrong place which meant the rowers had to execute an unexpected dog-leg to go round it, in order to comply with the race rules.As a result they all finished several minutes later than they might have done.Pegasus’ stroke Ricky Rouillé, who was competing in the race after a three-year gap, commented that the position of the guardboat: ‘Probably cost our crew five minutes’ while Crusade Laboratories’ cox Mic Tréhorel said that the guard boat was so far off the position it usually holds on the edge of the reef that he spotted it only just in time to change course and maintain the gap ahead of Guernsey’s Stainless Steel Fabrications,’ he said.’There was a huge dog-leg to row which probably added about half a mile to the course, and while it was the same for everyone you can’t really say it was the same race as in previous years.
‘In a way, the finish times are irrelevant, you can’t compare them to previous years.
‘I don’t think it was the skipper’s fault, he probably didn’t realise his boat was a course marker.’It was Tréhorel’s first race as cox and he said he had thoroughly enjoyed it.
‘We had a few exciting moments out there, it was tremendous,’ he said.Pegasus skipper Derek Morin also thought the position of the guard boat had affected their time.’To be honest if it hadn’t been for the Guernsey Press boat who came over and told us it was half a mile further down we wouldn’t have realised till it was too late.
‘It’s usually about 50m off the end of the Pats (Paternosters).
On the other hand the conditions weren’t ever likely to make for record-breaking times this year.’He added that, despite the 30-minute advantage at the start, his crew had been convinced they’d be caught by a sliding seat boat.
‘But we rowed well to the Pats, and once we got there we knew we they wouldn’t catch us – we couldn’t even see them! ‘Our team worked very hard, but the day belonged to the sliders, conditions were better for them.’John Searson and Paul Le Gros, whose finishing time was 2 hr 1 min 52 sec, had hoped for a time under two hours.’From our point of view we had three targets: first was to win the pairs race, and we managed that; second was to beat as many fours as possible; and the third was to do it in under two hours.
‘The guard boat did appear to be further out than it has been in the past and without a cox it was very hard to spot, especially with the number of other boats that were close by.
‘Paul thought he’d seen it but it wasn’t until we got much closer we realised we were heading for the wrong boat, saw the guard boat and had to row back.
It probably cost us that two minutes.
‘But I’m not that bothered.
We’d have liked a better time but I’m not going to make a fuss about it.
‘I suppose the chap in the guard boat was just told to anchor off the Pats and he did so at what he considered to be a safe distance.’Searson also thought the half-hour advantage for fixed seats was probably a bit too much.’They will always win with that sort of gap, but maybe next year the advantage could be something like the difference between the first fixed and the first slider home – just a thought!’President of the Jersey Rowing Club Peter Gibbons explained that this year the race was organised by the club whereas in the past it has been a two-handed venture with the Bonne Nuit Boat Owners’ Association.’It has been the same boat on the Pats for years, but with the change in organisation we put our own boat there and it may not have been quite in the position it was before.
‘I know a few rowers said it was too far west, but I think some people misunderstood how bad the rocks are there – but we’ll look into it.
‘Overall the feedback we had was excellent, particularly from the Guernsey and French rowers.
We changed a few things this year and I’m sure there will be a few changes next year.’