Squads have fun together at Bedford RC’s Captain’s Challenge Regatta

This fun event, held each May bank holiday brings together all the club’s squads plus its new Learn to Row graduates – and is an opportunity to sign up new learners too


Anne Hignell from Bedford RC explains how it works.

TChampagne buckets with names inhe 2023 edition of this informal regatta began with each competitor putting their name in a bucket labelled with the name of their squad. The fact that the buckets are the champagne buckets from the bar simply adds to the sense of occasion! Bedford RC Captain Mike Baker then created teams by pulling someone from each of the Junior, Masters, Women’s, Men’s and recreational squad buckets.

The teams competed against each other as a relay involving singles, doubles and quads over a short sprint distance and required turning round and backing down skills as well as straight line speed. All our training boats were launched ready for action.

The teams were as diverse in age as they were in fitness and ability but each team was united in the desire to do well, scull faster than anyone else and crush the opposition. Such was the intensity of their effort that some competitors barely resisted offers of help to crawl out of their scull while others lost the ability to talk coherently for a few minutes – the competitive light shone brightly for both old as well as young! Several of the masters remain quietly grateful that their junior doubles partners generously hauled them over the finish, while a couple of senior squad members who’d had a ‘big night out’ over the weekend no doubt felt the same about their ‘earlier to bed’ masters partners.

This was a ‘fun’ event, one of several organised at Bedford each year for everyone to take part in, form bonds and get to know each other. There was much laughter, kindness and generosity all day. The day also provided a tantalising opportunity for the Learn to Row graduates to show their friends and family what rowing is all about, and some of our visitors even ventured into a boat!

Bedford RC’s clubhouse has a rather wonderful balcony overlooking the River Great Ouse. This provided the perfect location for the participants’ where family and friends sip hot coffee or cold beer and feel relieved or perhaps rather jealous that it wasn’t them in the boats.

The regatta concluded with the winners being announced, although in the end this didn’t seem to matter as everyone was presented with a commemorative plate and continued to enjoy the BBQ in sunshine, good company and overlooking the best of rivers. During this, the club welcomed signups from the spectators for the club’s next Learn to Row course.

people trying rowing for the first time Giving some of the spectators their first experience out in a boat!