A good day’s racing at Bedford with some fine performances, although we came away empty handed at the end of the day. With only four crews entered and some very strong opposition (particularly from school and college boats) this was always going to be a tough event but we did get one finalist, in the Women’s IM3 4+ boat.
The only sour note of the day was the large gash left in the canvas of Arrow, courtesy of a clash with a school eight who were doing a race piece just before the finish line as we were finishing one race. Despite several calls to “hold it up” they took not a blind bit of notice and hit us at full pelt. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt but our boat took the brunt of the collision. Accidents do happen but I’d like to think we’d have been a bit more concerned had we hit someone else.
W.IM3 4+ – Crew 1
The first crew out (Lou, Karen, Clare and Alice, coxed by Steve) drew the St. Neots A crew in the first round. Although they put in a good start and were half a length up at Bedford RC, the St Neots crew put on a strong push and crossed the finish line half a length up. This was a good performance by this crew, racing together for the first time.
W.IM3 4+ – Crew 2
We had what looked to be a daunting first round, against Bedford High School and it proved to be a tough race. From the start the girls (Andi, Ash, Lindy and Sam, coxed by me) pushed into a slim lead and held this all the way. Covering each of the High School pushes and pushing off at the end of these, we eased away and, despite a frantic fight back (and equally frantic response) we held on to take the win by just a canvas.
The second round pitted us against Broxbourne. This was a more controlled row by the girls and we pulled away off the start and continued to push away all through down the course, winning by a comfortable margin.
This put us into the final, up against St. Edwards School. They were a really strong crew, taking us off the start and easing away despite some really hard pushes by our girls. Another really good race by our ladies but not enough and we lost by four lengths in the end.
Really pleasingly, the draw for this event had been split into Club and College/School divisions, meaning we actually got to race similar crews rather than being annihilated by the likes of Radley and Eton.
Our first round race saw us up against a crew from Bedford RC. We (Steve, Pierre-Yves, Gwen and I, coxed by Lindy) got a good, solid start that put us well over a length clear by the time we reached Star Club. Consolidating on this, we pushed away and then settled into a reasonably easy rhythm, finishing the race with an “easy” verdict. A pleasing race, given it was our first race as a crew and the first sweep race that Steve, Pierre-Yves and I have done in a very long time. The semi-final drew us against City of Oxford who, unlike all the other crews in this event, were all huge twenty-something uni type rowers… Not surprisingly, they blew us away from the start and disappeared down the river, leaving us to trail in by some distance. Despite losing by a big distance, it was another good row.
First race in MK colours for Mike and crewing with Tim, Benn and Josh, with Steve coxing. In a very competitive event, they had a difficult first round draw against Radley College. Although this was only their first race together and with very limited practice, the guys fought really hard and were beaten by just a length. Radley were the ultimate winners, beating Warwick University, again by one length, putting our crew’s performance into perspective.
As we had a fairly late first race, we arrived late (well, late for us). This meant we couldn’t boat from Longholme Island but instead wound up on the other embankment almost by Longholme Bridge. Funnily enough, this turned out to be a really good location as we were on our own, now getting hassle from other crews or queuing to boat. The only irritation was a school crew who just left their boat on the river and cleared off, leaving two girls to mind it – when we were waiting to get in.
The organisation was good, although maybe not as slick as normal (arriving at the start for our second round on the W.IM3 4+, no-one knew which side of the river we should be on) but still chilled and friendly and everyone seemed intent on having a good day. As ever, the results service was brilliant and somehow we managed to avoid the rain showers that were in and around the area all day, always a bonus keeping dry.
I was really pleased to see the separation of clubs from schools and colleges, if only at IM3 level (I guess the other events didn’t have enough entries to split them) as it gave us a reasonable chance rather than being obliterated in the first round. However, looking at the results and seeing that only two events were won by non-college/school crews (one of those being the CORC “club” boat that hammered everyone else in their category) it makes me wonder if it is worth attending in future as it seems to be drifting towards a non-club event.
Otherwise, the only real downer on the day (other than not winning anything) was the damage to Arrow.
Now for our next event – Milton Keynes Regatta!