Success for virtual Bewl Head

Bewl Bridge coach Wendy Morten relates how the virtual Bewl Head came about, with 120 rowers taking part from different clubs


Located in the heart of the Kent and Sussex countryside by Bewl Water, Bewl Bridge Rowing Club hosts the Bewl Head every year. Originally scheduled to take place at the end of March as the nation was in lock down, the Bewl Head still went ahead, as junior coach Wendy Morten, explains

“We decided to run a ‘virtual Bewl Head’ for the whole club, friends and families as a way of holding the rowing community together.

The date was set for 5 April, from 9am to 12pm – the three hours allowing for families to share rowing machines within households.

We advertised the Bewl Head as we would normally, by emailing posters to people and by posting on our social media sites. The response from members and also from other local clubs was fantastic, creating a bit more competition and wider community feel.

The event had 120 participants, in 95 different ‘crew’ combinations. Crews included rowers from Ardingly College, Ardingly RC, Great Marlow School, Crew Bath (Bath Minerva Uni), Tideway Scullers School, University of Sussex and, of course, Bewl Bridge Rowing Club.

The principles were kept simple for the virtual head race. The Bewl Head is 4km so we also kept the virtual event as a 4km race on the rowing machine.

We encouraged family members to take part and reduced the race distance for those members who weren’t so familiar with rowing machine workouts. Well done to all participating parents!

Fancy dress was encouraged and with photo opportunities and virtual tea and cake, there was a virtual event buzz!

The times for those doing 1km or 2km were aggregated for a crew time – the aggregating and averaging worked well and meant everyone was included.

Although everyone was doing the race in isolation, we encouraged teams/crews to be formed, where rowing machine times would be averaged to provide an element of competition that our rowers love. We created a Google spreadsheet where rowers could enter their times, and crew times could then be averaged.

Fancy dress was encouraged and with photo opportunities and virtual tea and cake afterwards, there was a virtual event buzz!

The Bewl Head was a great success. Groups of our masters got together virtually; there was banter between the masters of Bewl and Tideway Scullers School. Our female master rowers included our masters cox Margaret, and they wore their Easter hats on their virtual meeting. It was lovely for everyone to catch up via Zoom at our prize giving – no prizes though, instead a great sense of achievement and community.

In these difficult times the virtual head race brought the Bewl Bridge Rowing Club family together

Like many rowing clubs up and down the country, Bewl isn’t just about the rowing; we’re also a community where our members spend a lot of time together on and off the water.

The club’s closure has been difficult for the different sections of the club. The juniors, who are usually very busy with school and training, have suddenly found themselves at home and their regatta events cancelled. Our over 70s, and those with underlying conditions, are now also in isolation. The committee and the coaching teams have been busy inventing new ways to keep momentum on training and to keep in touch.

In these difficult times the virtual head race brought the Bewl Bridge Rowing Club family together, not only for a morning of racing but also to organise the crews and to engage in rowing chat/performance! We are hoping to do a similar event in the coming months, and perhaps to extend the club involvement regionally.

Watch this space!”

We would love to hear what your club is doing to keep your club and community spirit alive and well – let us know at [email protected]