Royal Gibraltar Regiment wins Tri-Service rowing championship

by Lance Corporal Andrew Perez
In June the Royal Gibraltar Regiment's rowing team competed in the Joint Services Regatta at Dorney Lake near Windsor, the planned site of the 2012 Olympic rowing events.

The Regiment's crews won the two main events outright, beating teams from all Corps of the Army, and even the RN and RAF's first crews! They were named tri-service champions in the Eights and Coxed Fours.

In addition, Pte Podesta won the Novice Single Sculls race in a photo finish with the RAF's best. In the Pairs event, WO1 Bensadon and LCpl Barbara came a respectable second, beating RAF A, RAFB and the Royal Navy, the event being won by the an all-Army pair.

With very limited training due to regimental commitment the team ensured a good level of fitness was attained so to achieve a good standard in the event.

The Regiment's Senior Eights crew was hastily cobbled together, the oarsmen having never rowed together before. They were up against a crew from the Royal Air Force and the Army's 2nd crew. As the race started the teams were equal, but coming to the 500m mark the Army 2nd crew just edged in front. By this point most of the rowers were beginning to tire, so the RG crew decided to up the pace, putting pressure on the competition to keep up. The decision paid off, and by the last 200m the RG had crept ahead, the exhausted crew managing to hold on to take the win over the Army and RAF.

The most prestigious event in the Regatta was the Senior Coxed Fours. The Regiment rowed against the RAF, the UK Police Rowing Club and the Army over a 1000m sprint course. As the race started it was clear that it was going to be a tight race between the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and the rest of the Army, with these crews quickly pushing ahead of the RAF and Police. By the half way point the RG Royal Gibraltar crept ahead by half a length and managed to maintain their lead all the way to a strong finish.

The Regiment's rowing team always attends the Tri-Service Regatta at a disadvantage: The three services have 50,000 to 100,000 people from whom to select a team, and they can afford to write off eight men from operations and training in order to row as a crew for many months before the Regatta. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment cannot afford that luxury. Until the day that the crew flies to UK they are wholly committed to Regimental Duty and get little chance to train together until days before the event.

The giant slayers of Royal Gibraltar Regiment's Rowing team look forward to defending their title again next year against the three services, but for this year at least, they're still the Champions!