A new rowing competition between the four home nations is coming to St Andrews this summer.
The inaugural Home International Rowing (HIR) Beach Sprints will be hosted by Scotland through a partnership between the University of St Andrews, Scottish Rowing, and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, and will take place on Saturday 20 August at St Andrews’ East Sands.
Teams from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales will compete throughout the day in Beach Sprints, an emerging international discipline that starts with a sprint on the beach of between 10m and 50m. After entering the boat, the boat slaloms around two buoys, then turns around a third buoy at 250m and rows straight back to the beach before one of the rowers exits the boat and runs to the finish line.
Teams of four junior athletes and four senior athletes will compete across the day in coastal solos and mixed doubles.
The Home International Rowing (HIR) Beach Sprints is an exciting addition to the rowing calendar and one that it is hoped will create a clear pathway into Great Britain’s and Ireland’s national teams in the future.
The University has invested heavily in establishing a coastal rowing programme by purchasing equipment including two coxed quadruple sculls, two single sculls and one double scull. Scottish Rowing recognises the University’s ambition to become a centre of excellence for rowing in the UK and has made a significant financial contribution towards expanding the fleet of boats.
Ahead of the HIR Beach Sprints, the University Boat Club will be partnering with Scottish Rowing and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust to host Saints Coastal Regatta on 14 and 15 May – the first event of its kind in St Andrews.
Entry is open to rowing clubs across the country and participants are required to attend the training and informal races on the Saturday unless they have significant previous coastal rowing experience. Sunday will be reserved for the formal racing, which will also be used to inform selection of the Scottish Home International Regatta (HIR) Beach Sprints team for the event later in the summer. Saints Coastal Regatta is also a talent identification event for the GB Coastal Rowing Team.
Alan Sinclair, Director of Rowing, said: “Having such a fantastic beach on our doorstep and talented student athletes, I strongly believe we have potential to become a high-performance hub to athletes aspiring to compete at the 2028 Olympic games. Our first two events this year will be a great chance to learn how to put on an international standard event, showcase the town and demonstrate the University’s high aspirations in coastal rowing.”
Ailsa Martin, University Boat Club President, said: “Beach Sprints is an exciting emerging discipline. UStABC has taken to the sport with early success, showing great promise for our members to take their skills to the next level and potentially strive for future international success.
“In our early development of the discipline in St Andrews we wish to build and support a wider coastal rowing community and hosting Saints Coastal Regatta and the Home International Coastal Regatta present a great way to share the dynamic and exciting event with other like-minded rowing clubs and athletes.”
Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing Head of Performance Pathway & HIR Management Committee, said: “Scottish Rowing is proud to be partnering with the University of St Andrews to launch this exciting new discipline. Through all of our conversations to date we have been hugely impressed with the ambition of the University and all of the local partners.
“St Andrews has a wonderful history of hosting world-class sporting events and we look forward to seeing Beach Sprints coastal sculling added to this programme in 2022.”
Picture: St Andrews students Jodie Cameron and Ryan Glymond at the 2021 British Championships