The Sark to Jersey rowing race was originally the idea of four friends from the Bonne Nuit Boat Owners Association. After Sunday lunch at Les Fontaines Tavern on the north coast, they looked across the sea to the small neighbouring island. If Chay Blyth and John Ridgeway could row the Atlantic, they thought, it must be possible to row between Jersey and Sark.
In 1967 a variety of boats and rowers proved that it was, with the first crew finishing in just under five hours. Today it is still one of the great sporting challenges in the Channel Islands and a hotly contested but friendly inter-insular.
The course takes competitors from the start in Dixcart Bay across open water to the Paternosers reef where they turn and follow Jersey’s north coast towards Bonne Nuit Bay. Crews must row round the Cheval Rock before crossing the finish line. By the time they hit dry land they will have rowed about 19 nautical miles with cross tides and the infamous choppy outfalls off Sark, not to mention any other conditions the weather throws at them.
The top crews from both islands will be there but so will many inexperienced teams of friends from workplaces, clubs and families. It is a rare sporting event where novices can race alongside seasoned competitors and still share the same incredible feeling of achievement – no matter how long they’ve taken or how many blisters they have.
Where to see the race
The start can be seen from the cliffs above Dixicart Bay in Sark. The north coast of Jersey has numerous good vantage points including the cliff paths at Devil’s Hole, Sorel Point, Ronez, New North Road and Fremont Point, where there is a very good view of the finish itself.