The 2020 European Rowing Coastal Challenge took place from 23 to 25 October 2020 in Donoratico, Province of Livorno, Italy. With Italian autumn temperatures and wind blowing in from the Ligurian Sea, the Marina di Castagneto Carducci is an ideal coastal rowing venue. 

A total of 11 countries from throughout Europe were represented with 141 crews from 61 clubs taking part. The Beach Sprint races saw junior events for the first time. Beach Sprints will be introduced at the Youth Olympic Games in 2026 and the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in 2021 and Chair of World Rowing's Rowing for All Commission, Guin Batten commented that the format of skill and speed worked brilliantly for the junior athletes. 

This was the first time also for using a two race track system, with two races running next to each other. On the second day of racing each track was running a race every five minutes, lending itself to non-stop action. 

"The regatta achieved everything I hoped for, for the first European coastal event," said Batten. "It tantalised us with what so nearly could have been. It could become one of the greatest beach venues in the world for endurance and beach. I can't wait to be back." 

First up on Friday were the heats for the “Endurance Races” – the 6000m race around multiple buoys with a mass start. Placing well in their heat guaranteed crews a place in Sunday’s final and therefore a race for the Challenge medals.

In the men’s solo (CM1x), the largest category at the event, Adrian Miramon Quiroga (ESP) and Peter Berg (SWE) placed first in their heats. Both are experienced coastal rowers and competed at last year’s World Rowing Coastal Championships in Hong Kong with Miramon taking gold. In the heat for the women’s solo (CW1x), Maria Berg of Sweden took the top spot.

Saturday was all about the Beach Sprints – a one-on-one race format where rowers start on land, sprint to their boats, row 250m out to a buoy and back, then out of their boats for a final sprint up the beach to hit the finish line buzzer.

Saturday racing was delayed in the afternoon due to an oncoming electrical storm. Once the storm had passed, the winds had picked up and rowing was once again delayed. The waves became too big for the safety boats to make it out onto the water to supervise. Multiple afternoon races had to be cancelled so that the Sunday racing and finals could still take place. 

Then on Sunday morning the Beach Sprint finals had to be cancelled due to heavy winds. A final decision on the endurance race finals was to take place after the Junior Beach Sprint medals, a local category, were handed out. Unfortunately, the winds had picked up making it once again impossible to send out the safety boats to supervise. Medals would have to be determined based on the previous days’ heats.

Endurance race results 
Maria Berg took home gold in the women’s solo, after placing first in her heat on Friday. Chiara Halama of Austria won silver, and three-time consecutive coastal World Champion, Diana Dymchenko of Ukraine took the bronze.

The men’s solo had gold going to Miramon following the results from Friday’s heats. Silver went to fellow Spaniard Ramon Gomez Cotilla and bronze to Peter Berg.

In the mixed double sculls (CMix2x), Ramon Gomez Cotilla raced again, this time with Teresa Diaz Moreno and the came in first. Sergii Gryn was partnered with Dymchenko to come in second and Leopold Wiesinger and Jovana Stanivuk of Austria were third.

Local rowers, Davide Magni and Giovanni Ficarra of Italy took home gold in the men’s double sculls (CM2x). Barnardini Alessandro and Benini Edoardo, also of Italy, took the silver and Austrian’s Mihal Karlovsky and Martin Riedel won the bronze.

Violante Lama and Elena Joana Armeli of Italy came first in the women’s double sculls (CW2x). Ainoha Casanova Calpena and Nadia Felipe Garcia from Spain came second with Carlota Gonzalez Gil and Teresa Diaz Moreno of Spain in third.

In the women’s coxed quadruple sculls (CW4x+), first and second went to Italy with Chiara Sacco, Carlotta Niola, Martina Giraldi, Marta Ardissone and Maurizio Gallizioli in first and Elena Maddalo, Martina Frattoni, Maria Teresa Medone, Simona Ghigliotti, and Angelo Broccati in second.

The men’s coxed quadruple sculls (CM4x+) saw gold go to Giacomo Costa, Giorgio Casaccia Gibelli, Federico Garibaldi, Edoardo Marchetti, and Alessandro Calder of Italy. Silver went to Federico Marsi, Enrico Secoli, Gustavo Ferrio, Luca Giurgevich, and Alice Gioia of Italy and bronze to Vasile Agafitel, Cosmin Carpea, Costel Mihalescu, Cristian Cojocaru, and Florin Stefan of Romania.

Beach sprint results
Coline Caussin-Battaglia of Monaco took home gold in the women’s solo beach sprint. Silver went to Chiara Halama of Austria and bronze to Radka Novotnikova of the Czech Republic.

Poland’s Maciej Zawojski ranked first in the men’s solo beach sprint. Zawojski raced for the Polish National Rowing team for four years between 2014 and 2018, before retiring. He recently decided to try his hand at coastal rowing.

“I’m not only happy with the final results, but (am happy with) how I rowed in my races and all the work I did getting ready for this competition, especially since I only started rowing on the sea ten days ago,” said Zawojski through his Instagram account (@maciejzawojski). Federico Garibaldi (ITA) came second, and Jan Fleissner (CZE) was third.

In the mixed double sculls, Sebastiano Panteca and Annalisa Cozzarini of Italy came first with Ramon Gomez Cotilla and Teresa Diaz Moreno of Spain in second and Austria’s Leopold Wiesinger and Jovana Stanivuk in third.