Taking advantage of the eight being down in London (for WEHORR), we decided to enter Hammersmith Head for the first time. Managing to scrape together eight of us who were available, we entered a Master’s B 8+.
Although the weather wasn’t as good as the beautiful conditions for WEHORR, it was nowhere near as bad as we’ve seen it on the Tideway. Boating again from (an almost deserted) Civil Service was easy and didn’t take long to get on station for the start. There followed the usual wait, with Andi doing a great job of keeping us in the right position and out of trouble – although Gwen and I (at Bow and 2) were kept busy manoeuvring the boat. The only other “B” boat was right behind us, so we had a good view of our closest competition from the off.
We were caught a bit by surprise (at least, I was) by the start being the near side of Chiswick Bridge, instead of the far side (as it is for all the other Tideway events I’ve raced) so weren’t at full speed crossing the start line. However, we picked up to race pace quickly and were keeping station on the Sons of the Thames boat behind us, while overhauling a couple of boats in front. This was pretty much the position for the first half of the race, but as we hit slightly choppier water, Simon caught a crab, slowing the boat right down. This allowed Sons to close right up on us; a massive push once we’d recovered saw us push away a bit from them and hunt down St. George’s College.
Despite the lack of practise, there were some very strong pushes and the boat was sitting pretty well overall. With no further incidents, we overtook St. George’s and hauled in another couple of boats before crossing the line at Hammersmith.
The results saw us complete the course in 12:20.2, finishing 82nd overall (of 103 starters) but 7th out of 8 in the Master’s Handicap section, some 9 seconds behind Sons.
Results can be seen at the AK website while my photos are (temporarily I hope) on Picasa (link to follow).
This was actually a really nice event, a good taster for the Vets Eights Head in a couple of weeks, well organised and marshalled.
A huge thank-you to Andi, who made her coxing début big style, coxing a Tideway event – and doing so quite superbly.