From Ryde Rowing Club
Early on the morning of Saturday, 19th May, 1999 The Ryde Rowing Club Ladies Fixed Seat Galley Crew met at Ryde Marina to attempt what is believed to be the first Round the Isle of Wight Row by a Women's Crew. The Ryde Club have a strong tradition of Round the Island Rowing having completed at least nine round the Island rows in their 120 year history and currently hold the record in both fixed seat and sliding-seat coastal fours. The row is 55.2 statute miles and for Ryde Crews traditionally start from Ryde Pier head and is rowed west about - Cowes, the Needles, St. Catherine's, Bembridge - and back to Ryde. The record is seven hours, fifty-four minutes in a Sliding seat boat set in 1995. The fastest time in a fixes seat boat is eight hours, six minutes set in 1965. The Fixed Seat Four Oared Galley was loaned by Pat Sherwin, MBE. - an ex. Southsea Rowing Club boat it is a veteran of the Great River Race.
Leaving Ryde Pier Head at 4.00am, still in the dark, the crew were accompanied by a Maltese Fishing launch manned by Club Captain Ian Lennie and Crew Member Tony Hickman who was taking the Video and photographic record of the attempt. The launch "Night Owl" owned and skippered by Tony Richardson also accompanied the Crew as Safety cover.
Three and a half hours later, by 7.30am, the crew approached the Needles - 21 miles into the row - which provided a spectacular backdrop for the boat with the Wightlink sponsors flag flying behind in the mild head wind.
The crew of Steph Hickman (Cox), Tanzie Hersey-Page, Jo hanks, Nikki Orchard, and Cathy West are an experienced Galley Crew having completed the London Great River Race (22 miles) on three occasions. Joining them for this row was Sarah Woods - allowing four Ladies to row in rotation and one to rest.
Once past Ventnor (36 miles) the sea conditions started to change for the worse but the crew were determined to finish. After the Bembridge Ledge (50 miles) with the home leg underway the sea became very rough and the wind grew stronger making the rowing very uncomfortable for the tired crew. Ryde Pier was a welcome sight and cox Stef Hickamn delighted in pushing the crew on with as near to a racing finish as they could muster.
Ryde Pier was reached in a time of ten hours, twenty minutes, forty-five seconds, and has established the record for being the first all women's crew to row around the Island. Waiting to great them was Steve and Helen Dear, two of the members of the last crew to row round the Island and holders of the record time. A wonderful reception also greeted the crew as they returned to the Marina as most boats sounded their hooters or air horns and a fair crowd turned out to cheer and applaud.
For the record - Ryde Rowing Club round the Island rows:-
Copyright Steve Bull & Tanzie Hersey-Page. Ryde Rowing Club. 3rd July, 1999.