Another Head Race, another four wins for the club. The ladies continued their impressive run of form, taking wins at IM3 and Masters C coxed fours, with us “Masters” chipping in with two wins, one for Pierre-Yves and Tim at “B” and the other for the Quad at “C”.
Only two boats in this category, with our ladies falling to St. Neots by just four seconds. As this is really a Masters C crew, a very impressive, solid performance by Charlene, Paula, Lou and Karen, with impeccable coxing (by yours truly). St. Neots ate into us off the start and although we held them through the middle of the race and put in a really strong last 500, were unable to get this back. Maybe a lesson that we need to push harder and faster off the start, as the strength was really there at the end.
Masters B 2x-
Pierre-Yves and Tim out again, looking more impressive each time. They powered through this race and won deservedly.
Benn and Gwen reprising their multi-national crew again but not quite as successfully as last time out.
Another new line up, this time with Liz, Sam, Helen J and Ash, coxed by Charlene. Showing the flexibility and depth of the women’s squad, this boat powered through to win by over 30 seconds from three other crews.
Masters C 4x-
Moving on from our performance last week on the Tideway, we put out probably our best row to date. The four of us (me, Simon, Tim and Pierre-Yves) put in a very fast start (rating around 35) to put distance between us and Boston (our only competition, who were following us) and then a couple of really good, strong pushes, especially past Bedford RC, saw us ease away to win by 34 seconds.
Benn and Gwen swapped sculling blades for sweep in this boat, with Iain and Nelson making up the crew, with Charlene jumping out of the W.IM3 4+ boat to cox. Benn set a fast rate, which the novices in the boat struggled to match, trading speed for power and they finished 27 seconds adrift of the winning Sudbury boat
W. Masters C 4+
With Clare swapping in for Charlene, and Paula moving to Stroke, this boat raced to win the category, beating the nearest Star Club boat by 16 seconds
After the confusion around this entry, initially making Jo think she’d been entered only to find it was meant to be Liz’s sister and then her not getting her BR license in time, this wound up with a completely new crew of Sam and Liz. When I said to Liz that I was surprised to see Sam sculling, her reply was that Sam was even more surprised. Considering this was only Sam’s fourth time out in a scull, to finish just 16 seconds adrift of the winning Cambridge 99 double was truly spectacular
Benn swapped out for Rob M compared to the IM3 boat. To his mortification, the Novice boat then went and posted a time 8 seconds faster; this seems to have been a case of lowering the rate allowed the novice men to put more power down.
Masters D 1x
As my sole aims in this race were to finish the same way up as I’d started and avoid hitting anything large and immovable (memories of my last attempt at steering Bedford can be seen here), posting a time of 9:25 wasn’t all that bad. Spending most of my race looking round for the bridges probably slowed me a lot, but that’s the first one over and done with. Third out of three, 35 seconds adrift, but at least I kept dry!
First time we’ve attended Star Head and it may well be the last.
The marshals seem to have taken up the bad temper and rudeness that was absent from the Tideway last week and made it a thoroughly unpleasant event. We were subjected to a stream of aggressive, unwarranted (and frequently contradictory) shouting from marshals who seemed 1) to have it in for MK in particular and 2) allow Star Club crews to do whatever they wanted. Not nice. We weren’t alone in this view, having chatted to a coach from another nearby club and the one friendly marshal (who came from Bedford RC).
There was a total lack of communication between marshals, leading to one great occasion when one marshal told us to spin, followed by another screaming at us “Milton Keynes, what do you think you are doing!”. Another, when we are spinning quickly at the finish area, with boats either side, to have some muppet shout at us to hurry up. The start marshal – “get your bow in” – “why are you letting your stern out?” (law of physics?) – while a Star boat sits slap bang in the middle of the river – we were not happy. The best was being shouted at to get our boat out of the centre of the river – seconds after passing the finish line, with no one coming down the river. Being shouted at to get our boat out when Star crews were sitting at the pontoon adjusting feet, swapping blades and, unbelievably, pinning numbers on was just ridiculous.
It spoilt what should have been a really nice event – contrast this to the recent Bedford event, which was slick, run on time and friendly. Why should we put up with this kind of abuse?