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New coach vows to take Medway Towns Rowing Club to Henley in three years

A former national rower has vowed to take his new club to Henley in three years – despite it having no racing members.

Angus Kennedy has just taken on the role of coach of Medway Towns Rowing Club.

Angus Kennedy hopes to lead a group to a Henley victory
Angus Kennedy hopes to lead a group to a Henley victory

The 59-year-old said: “There’s a close community in the rowing world and I knew a few of the members here from a visit a few years back.

"I think over time people left as there were no coaches. It's really because there wasn't anyone to direct their teams.

“Then last week I met with the club who said they didn’t have a coach.

“I was just coming out of an arm injury and wanted the challenge, so they called me at the right time – I saw it as a good opportunity.”

Angus is no stranger to making headlines. Last year, he drove a car around Dartford with a “Just Divorced” sign to celebrate the amicable end of his 23-year marriage.

He was also once branded “the man paid to eat sweets” due to his job as a chocolate taster for a number of confectioners.

On top of all that, he also has a lot of experience in the sport of rowing, having taken it up when he was 18.

He joined Leas Rowing Club in London before taking his talents to Trent University where he started competing with Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association.

While there he was then selected to race for GB under 23s.

He later moved back to Leas Rowing Club where in 1987 he competed and won the Britannia Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The River Medway is “a fantastic rowing resource”
The River Medway is “a fantastic rowing resource”

He said: “It’s like Wimbledon for tennis and from that day I said one day I will take a crew over that line first, so that’s what I’m here to do.”

His pledge to compete at the event within at least two years has echoes of the 1993 film Cool Runnings, in which a team of novices is trained to become members of the Jamaican bobsleigh team at the Winter Olympics.

Perhaps more appropriately, the property developer, who now lives in Rochester, compares the challenge to a more recent film.

“To me, it’s like Boys in a Boat. That was about a group of rowers in America who had no equipment but went on to win the 1936 Olympics. Complete underdogs.

“I watched the film the other month and it has inspired me to achieve something similar.”

Mark Summers has been a member for four years
Mark Summers has been a member for four years

Mark Summers has been part of the Rochester-based rowing club for four years.

He said: “The Medway is a fantastic rowing resource. People will go a long way for a piece of water like that.

"It’s one of the best stretches in the south east for rowing and with everything we have here the dream is definitely possible.”

The club has competed at least once at Henley, in 1893. Their team came runners-up in the Wyfold Challenge – a four-man boat race.

More than 130 years later, Angus hopes he can improve on that.

The club has more than 40 boats at its disposal
The club has more than 40 boats at its disposal

“There are about 40 boats here. We have eights, fours, and doubles,” he said.

“We even have a launch, so I’ll be shouting to make people go faster.

“We have 15 rowing machines and that’s a lot of kit, so there is no reason why this club shouldn’t do well.

“There is a lot of history here and wouldn’t it be great if we can get it going again.”

Angus’ 17-year-old son George has also taken up the sport, being inspired by his dad’s friend and three-time world champion, Peter Haining.

George Kennedy is following in his father's footsteps
George Kennedy is following in his father's footsteps

But one man does not a rowing team make and so the club are now looking to recruit.

Flyers have been sent to schools and universities in the area and the club will be holding an open day on Saturday, February 17 for people to have a look around and see if it is for them.

The Medway Towns Rowing Club is in Esplanade, Rochester ME1 1QL. For more, click here.

Angus added: “It’ll be good to help get kids off the street and give them something to do.

“There isn’t much in Medway so let’s get them out of the pubs and into a boat."

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