Nice to get a winning start to the Regatta season, with two wins at Leicester. We had a good day’s racing, held on the Grand Union Canal through the centre of Leicester, in early Spring sunshine. The highlight was Been and Gwen proving the potential they had shown in the Head races at Bedford by winning the Novice double, de-novicing as a result!
Women’s Novice 4x+
This was a scratch crew thrown together for this event and sculling in the Junior’s boat, so we didn’t really know what to expect. After a frantic start, we were holding the Newark crew but an unfortunate crab gave the opposition three lengths lead. Strangely, this seemed to settle the ladies who then set into a more controlled race and clawed back on Newark at a real rate, to finish under half a length down at the line – another 100m and we’d have rowed through them. After the poor start, a very good race by a novice crew (Paula, Helen J, Sam and Alice) not helped by a lightweight boat – the stern was almost under the water!
Women’s IM3 2x-
Paula hopped straight out of the Quad into a double, for her first race in anything less than a four. This was a nice Mother and Daughter combination, with Jo steering the boat. As a first race together and after just a couple of practice sessions, they sculled really well but were beaten in their first race.
Tim and I ventured out of Masters races for this one (no Masters B event available) so, with me giving away more years than I want to think about, weren’t sure how this would go. This was also our first race together since winning at Dorney 18 months ago! From the start, our opponents from Lincoln pulled away and were a length up but we dug in and started pulling back on them. We’d got an overlap when they ran into the reeds at the side of the canal and slewed round, coming to a stop. This allowed us to take it down and paddle thorough to the finish to get through to the final. In the final we were against another Lincoln crew but this time they simply blew us away and stormed down the course, winning easily. Still, a nice couple of rows and encouraging that we did win the first race.
Mixed IM2 4+
A straight final against Lincoln for this scratch boat, of Tim, Benn, Sam and Andi. Looking very good on he row down, they powered away from their opposition and, despite a couple of hard pushes from Lincoln, kept in front from start to finish, take the win. Galling for Ash, who’d had to pull out through illness, but a first Regatta pot for Sam
A day full of drama for Benn and Gwen! Their first round opponents had scratched, leaving them with a row over. In their second race, they were up against a Derby crew; after a very fast start, Benn and Gwen then piled on the pressure and pulled away down the course for a comfortable win.
So, to the final, which pitted them against a Loughborough pair. At the start, Benn was having some problems as the Start Marshall was continually getting him to adjust (the problem with a free start) and as a result, was slightly off line at the “go”. This led them to move across slightly, the Loughborough boat moved away from them, clipped the bank and spun round. Benn and Gwen then had an easy paddle down to the finish, to take the win comfortably, although the other crew gave chase.
At the boating pontoon, Tim had a surprise for them – a bucket of (fortunately clean) water to celebrate their de-novicing. While they were standing there dripping wet, the Chief Umpire came over with another, far more unpleasant surprise. The start marshal had decided that our guys had caused Loughborough to crash by going into their water and had disqualified them!
He did then go on to say that he had suggested to Loughborough that, as this was a final (and a Novice event), would they consider a re-row rather than winning by default. Very sportingly, the Loughborough crew agreed. So, still dripping wet, Benn and Gwen stepped back into the boat and went down to the start to run the race again.
With no drama at the start this time, our guys grabbed the lead and pushed away steadily, to be a length clear after 200m. They held this despite a really hard push from their opponents and then pushed away further to finish a couple of lengths clear to celebrate a first win.
First time we’ve been to Leicester as a club and I can see this becoming a regular. It’s nice to get a Regatta this early in the season (although a serious shock to the system!) and good to be up against different clubs. The location is great and makes for some really good spectating, although it was surprising how few close races there were. The finish is interesting as well – it’s a case of over the line and hold it up, as there are often boats turning into the offcut where the boating area is.
The batch system worked well, something we’ll have to think about for our Regatta, and the whole event ran to time. Although not quite the “buzz” from other regattas, we all really enjoyed the day, especially with Gwen and Benn delivering on the promise they’ve shown through the Head season.
Can’t finish without a mention for Byron. We’d seen him race in the DMU Mixed eight and thought he looked a bit wet, but just assumed he’d got splashed during the race. The truth was far better; they’d done a racing start on the way down to the start area and he’d caught a massive crab. This had, in his own works, flicked him clean out of the boat! His bedraggled appearance was actually the results of an unplanned swim in the canal. Tragically, none of us saw this and, despite all the cameras along the tow-path, it seems there are no photos or videos either.