Mixed ability rowers go paddling on the Po!

A group of British mixed ability rowers attended an international rowing event in Turin, Italy last week. Mixed Ability is the name given to fully integrated rowing – crews being made up of competitors with impairments and their able-bodied club colleagues


Stratford upon Avon BC in Turin

Stratford, who also attended the regatta in 2022, were instrumental in encouraging other UK clubs to join in this year. In several events, the UK crews were composites of rowers from Ross, Glasgow, Stratford and Ross-on-Wye.

Stratford’s mixed ability squad ready for the off! Stratford’s mixed ability squad ready for the off!

The regatta itself was made up of several parts over two days of competition. There was a Special Olympics section for those with an intellectual impairment, and a set of straight adaptive/para events. There was also a section set aside for the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners from Italian jails plus the Mixed Ability races.

All the UK teams, whether individually or in the combined crews, had a very successful weekend. Stratford rowers won several gold, silver and bronze medals competing in five abreast, side-by-side racing on the River Po. Every Stratford BC competitor came home with a least one gong!

Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “It’s a great and unique event. We have sung its praises in the rowing world and the number of UK and Irish crews attending is on the rise. We went for a week so we could practise and enjoy Turin and the company of our Italian friends as well as race. In the end, the results don’t matter. What does matter is seeing everyone have a good time: a truly integrated regatta!”

Ross RC’s Mixed Ability Rowing Serssions (MARS) squad, who were attending the event for the first time, won the Renzo Ottino Awardfor outstanding contribution to adaptive rowing. It was accepted on behalf of the team by Ross RC’s MARS Founder and Love Rowing Trustee, Sally Pettipher, who said,  “I want to thank everyone here and all those back in the UK who believed in us, helped with funding, coaching and physical support. We would not be here without you. Most of all I want to thank our wonderful rowers from Ross-on-Wye, I am so proud of you all!”

Ross RC’s competitors ranged in age from late 20s to mid 70s. Some had years of experience, while some had been rowing for only a few months including wheelchair user Sue ‘Wheels’ Wheeler.

Ross MARS rowers with the Renzo Ottino Award Ross RC MARS rowers with the Renzo Ottino Award