Invesco Perpetual City Regatta: Rowing buzz takes off pre Rio Olympics

With the Olympic Games less than 20 days away, a Newport rower enjoyed his moment in the spotlight after he helped his team triumph at the first ever Invesco Perpetual City Regatta in Leeds.

Martin Evans, 42, and three other teammates from Sub7 Indoor Rowing Club were the star performers in Leeds’ Millennium Square on Friday evening when they saw off a host of challengers to be crowned the best female team over 1km on Concept 2 rowing machines.

The Invesco Perpetual City Regatta is a spectacular new challenge where four-strong male and female crews compete head to head in a series of fast and furious regatta-style knock-out races live on stage in four cities across the country.

Evans and his rowing friends were in action at the second event of the series in Leeds, with a further three regatta events taking places in Edinburgh, Bristol and London throughout the summer, before the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta Winner’s Row-Off on October 12 at the Guildhall, London, which will take place in front of an array of rowing legends and heroes returning from Rio.

And having earned local bragging rights last Friday, Evans was already setting his sights on walking away with the national title.

“We were a little apprehensive at first but we all really enjoyed it,” said Evans, who works as a software developer. “We are really pleased to have won, especially because our ladies’ team won the event in Edinburgh a few weeks ago, so we knew we had to keep our end of the bargain up.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be heading to the final with them. We always love competing, but a lot of it is down to our work ethic. We’re a very inclusive club, so doing well is a bonus.

“We do everything we can to develop the sport and bring everyone into it. I’ve only been in the sport for less than two years.

“Rowing has got a lot of penetration in the crossfit community, and it has been another way of raising the profile of the sport – which is crucial.

“I would recommend to anyone to get involved, just do it. It’s a completely inclusive event and everyone will get something out of it.”

Designed to test both fitness and teamwork, the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta is open to everyone – from seasoned pros, rowing novices or those who are just up for a new challenge.

During the competition, all four crew members row on separate rowing machines at the same time over a target distance of 1km with the racing software producing a 500m split pace for each rower, while the individual splits are then compiled in real time into one average split pace for the entire crew.

Their progress is then displayed on big screens for competitors and spectators alike to see – including double Olympic silver medal-winning rower Debbie Flood who was there to cheer on crews and offer words of encouragement.

And after being impressed with the standard of rowing on show in Leeds, she urged other people to give the sport a try.

“The reaction from all the participants has been great,” said the retired international rower, whose list of achievements also include being the first woman to be appointed as captain of Leander Club, which is the main feeder club for the GB team with 22 of its rowers headed for Rio.

“The talent on show has been impressive. There has been a range of techniques going on but you can really see the dedication of the people on their faces, and we’ve really had some surprises.

“It’s a very unique event, we’re bang in the middle of the town centre, it’s accessible to anyone who wants to come and put a team in, be challenged and get rowing.

“We’re really trying to introduce rowing into the community and give the opportunity to everyone to see that rowing is a great way to keep fit, whether that’s on the rowing machine or on the water, and anyone is welcome to come and have a go.

“To go to the Guildhall for the Row-Off will be a fantastic event. What an amazing place to go and to be one of the finalists from all around the country, it’s pretty cool.

“You’re representing your team, you’re representing your area, it’ll be a special event and all the Olympic rowers will be there, Sir Steve Redgrave will be hosting the event, so the heart of British rowing really.”

Invesco Perpetual’s innovative new ‘City Regatta’ event is a celebration of the achievements of Leander Club, the main feeder club to the GB team with 23 of its rowers headed for Rio, and aims to encourage more people across the UK to get involved in rowing.

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