Showing the growing stature of the womens’ squad (or maybe they just don’t like us?) for the first time the club attended two different events this week-end. While two womens’ boats went off to the Met (at Dorney) the rest of us were at Peterborough.
This limited the number of crews at Peterborough and, given the top boats were elsewhere, this reflected in us taking just one win over the two days. We all camped over on the Saturday night and the social side made up for the relative lack of success (although there were some very good non-winning performances).
Saturday 5th June
First out was a Mens’ IM3 4+ boat; as this comprised one experienced rower and three novices, they were a bit outclassed in their heat by three Uni crews and trailed in last. After several hours (six!) we had our next event, a womens’ Masters B 4+. They placed second (of three) in a straight final, partly helped by a spectacular crab by Star that left their boat sideways on the course.
Another long wait to the final three races of the day. Karen and Lou competed for the first time together in a double (at Masters C) and a few steering issues saw them at the back of the field (this wasn’t helped by the copious amounts of pond weed in Lane 1!). Next up was what was to be our closest race of the day, an IM3 4x-. With Pierre-Yves unavailable, Josh slotted in instead with Tim stroking, Steve steering and me making up the numbers. Arriving at the start, it didn’t look promising as we (who would have been Vet B if not for Josh) were up against two Uni crews and a Leicester Uni/Club composite.
However, having had a good practise session earlier in the day where we completely changed our start, we got a flier and were in contention from the off. The composite crew then caught a giant crab (odd, looking back and seeing a blade vertical in the water), the Leicester Uni crew dropped away and we were left in a real hammer and tongs battle to the end with Leeds Uni. Ultimately, they were just a bit too quick for us and won – I don’t know the distance but it was under a length. Quite encouraging for us, especially as Steve lost steering about 100m from the end!
Thanks to some great scheduling, Steve and I then headed back round the lake, jumped into our double and went off for the next race, at Masters D 2x-. Needless to say, having given everything in the quad, we were running on empty and trailed in a long way behind the others in what was described as “a tired row”. Wasn’t too impressed with this – no races all day and then two in 40 minutes.
With all racing over and done with, it was time to set up camp, break out the barbie and have the odd beer or two. We were all pretty tired so turned in quite early. I thought I hadn’t slept well until everyone started discussing the major disturbances during the night! As well as a massive electrical storm, there was (by all accounts) a near riot at the club house with large number of police called in as well as the police helicopter. And I slept through it all…
Sunday 6th June
Although it had rained pretty heavily overnight, Sunday morning started quite bright. A nice start to the morning, bacon sarnies cooked on the barbie and much chat about the previous night’s activities.
First race of the day was Josh, jolted back to something like normal by application of Red Bull. His single was at 9:30 and about 9 he realised his boat still wasn’t rigged as we’d not used it the day before. Cue the fastest rigging of a boat of all time. With help he made it onto the water in time. Despite a really strong row (in only his second single race) he just failed to get third and a spot in the repêchage.
An hour later, Josh was back in action, this time with Tim in a double. Again, a good race but again, without success.
We then put out a mixed Novice 4+ boat; again, they were up against three Uni crews and, inevitably, struggled. Despite a slow start, a strong push was pulling them back into the field when Lou, at stroke, caught a crab. The lack of racing experience in the boat then caused some of the crew to carry on while others (correctly) stopped. One for us to learn in coaching novices for their first race.
A couple of this crew were out again as part of the Womens’ Masters C 4+ (same crew as yesterday with Andi replacing Frances). Star weren’t as obliging today and our ladies were left to bring up the rear.
Another new combination was next up, a Mixed Quad. I quite thought this was a Masters’ event and was very surprised at the stake boat to see our opponents from Lincoln were decidedly NOT Masters. This was actually an IM3 event and we were utterly outclassed, giving Lincoln the easiest win they are ever likely to get. Partly, this was Steve and I not wanting to kill ourselves as we were, again, straight round the other side to go out in the double. Partly our own fault as, being nice, we’d agreed to let Lincoln shift the mixed Quad back – all this did was reduce our recovery time to 30 minutes. Not surprisingly, we trailed in last.
And so to the final race of the day. This was Tim and Rob M in a Masters Novice 2x. This was to be Rob’s first ever race in a double and his main concern was to finish upright and dry. In the event, they accomplished this easily and in doing so took the win! After waiting all week-end it was nice to finally score a victory for the club. Nice hip-flasks awarded instead of the normal pots.
Thoughts on the Regatta
A couple of niggles from my point of view – firstly, the scheduling. I know it is very hard to accommodate everyone but allowing 40 minutes between finals really makes the second race not worth bothering with. It might be do-able if you’re young and fit but us Masters need a bit more recovery time (well, I do).
A couple of very contentious finish decisions over the week-end, both in favour of the home club – worst of these was where the Peterborough crew had even congratulated the other crew on them winning, only for the result to be given the other way. Add to this some over zealous umpiring (disqualifying a crew for not getting over quickly enough – they were given three strokes to mover over and hadn’t even crossed the buoy line) and a few people were left very unhappy.
Finally, lack of camping space. Understandably, camping wasn’t being allowed further up the course; however, this meant that there was very little space left over. Come the summer event, this could be a serious problem. Given the disturbances on Saturday night, I wonder if they will be allowed to permit any camping at all though.
So, all in all, not a bad week-end, a first and a second, although the other boats were left struggling. And our top ladies were off at Met.
Photos now on-line at the Fotopic site