St. Neots Regatta 2009

I guess it shows how far we have progressed, especially the Women’s squad, that coming away from St. Neots without a single win feels really disappointing. There were some very good races and close finishes across both days plus a really good social evening on the Saturday but not a successful week-end overall.

First crew out was the Womens IM3 4+. This was a slight change from Bedford with Yemin replacing Charlene (both availability and points!) and they went out (most surprisingly!) in the first round to the Broxbourne crew they had beaten the previous week. Broxbourne went on to win the event – typically, ours was the closest race they had all day. Next up was John Cunningham – no, not JC in person but the boat, racing with a Mixed IM2 8+. Despite a TOTAL lack of practice they gave Lea a hard row, losing by just one and a third lengths over the 1K course. Some very interesting comments from the marshals about it being unusual to see John’s name on anything other than a bar tab….

Following this was the biggest mismatch of the day. Having entered our Vet C quad and agreed to switch to IM3 if no competition, we were not impressed by finding we were racing instead at IM2. The race would have been a walk over for Star even if we hadn’t had two boat stopping crabs. Our annoyance at this was then compounded by not being entered at IM3 on Sunday although there was opposition. The whole draw process was a complete joke – wake up SNRC and join the 21st century and use OARA! As it was, we might as well have not raced it was so one sided.

Final race of the day was Steve and I in the Vet D 2x. Racing against the losing finalists from Henley Vets was always going to be a tall order but we were pleased with our row, even though we lost by a couple of lengths.

Following the day’s racing we retired for a few beers and a barbie (one of dozens, despite the insistence that no clubs were to have a barbie – there was a haze of smoke hanging over the field!)

So to the 500m sprints on Sunday. The first boat out was the Womens Novice 4+. Despite being drawn against Barnes Bridge Ladies, their opposition was Doncaster. Apparently, the event was re-drawn as one crew had scratched the previous evening, so we were moved – only for another crew to scratch leaving us disadvantaged. And I thought draws were fixed and if a crew scratched that was your good fortune. Anyhow, our novice women rowed a stormer, despite being off line at the start, to come through for a win. Next up was (can’t figure this out) Barnes Bridge Ladies. A real disappointment here, as one of the crew caught a boat stopper when they were leading comfortably, handing the race to BBL on a plate. A real pity as they looked well on top and who knows where they would have finished.

Second crew of the day was a Mixed Quad, with Steve and I being joined by Clare and Bex. Seeing as we had never rowed as a crew before, losing to Doncaster by a length wasn’t bad!

Next up was what was described by the race commentator as the Women’s Blue Riband event – the IM3 8+. Really, really nice to see us able to put out a ladies eight – and a very strong one at that. They had Maidstone Invicta in the first round and once they settled and got the power on, rowed through the other crew for a comfortable win. The final saw an epic race, again with Barnes Bridge Ladies. Steve and I had a grandstand view of the finish of this one, having just boated for our Vet D 2x race. The boats were pretty level over the last 100m, with both crews clearly giving it everything. BBL had just enough though, pipping our crew by just a third of a length. Credit to the BBL crew, they had only de-noviced the previous day and look like a class act – very gracious in victory as well.

Steve and I had a re-run of the previous day’s race, against the same Peterborough pair. Whatever the reason, it just didn’t come together and we wound up losing by a bigger margin over 500m than over 1000m the previous day! Oh well…

Photos on-line at MKRC Photo site but no results from SNRC yet.

We do like St Neots week-end but this year was, I’m sorry to say, an organisational shambles. Our Novice 4+ was “missed” from the Saturday draw, the quad bumped to IM2 without consultation and dropped from IM3 on Sunday and many of our boats just dropped completely. By the way, we are still waiting for a refund on these events – as a small club, we can’t afford to subsidise big clubs like SNRC and will have to think long and hard about racing there next year.

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