Peterborough Summer Regatta 2011

September 14, 2011

A very brief entry for this event – having been away on holiday this now seems a long, long time ago and I’m struggling to remember any details! The headline news was another five wins for MKRC, spread over the two days. It really shows how far we’ve come that this actually seemed a bit disappointing at the time.

The winning boats were (Saturday) Women’s IM1 (!) quad, Elite (!!) pair and Helen M making a welcome and winning return to racing. Sunday’s wins were delivered courtesy of the IM2 coxed four and a Women’s Masters coxed four.

A good turn out, especially from the juniors (including another first race, for Alex), although we again had many entries rejected through lack of competition and had to row up in many others.

It’s also disappointing that so many races are now straight finals; it seems that the days of a big race programme with several rounds are gone and we are seeing a lot of very one sided finals. Hopefully, next season will be better as the new (and distinctly unimproved) points system levels out.

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Peterborough Spring Regatta 2011

June 9, 2011

What a week-end! After some really low points on Saturday, everything turned around on Sunday and it became our most successful Peterborough Regatta ever. So much so that, despite being a “small” club, we placed third overall in terms of club wins, with no less than six victories, one on Saturday and five on Sunday.

This featured some really strong performances, especially considering the conditions. Both days had extremely high winds blowing almost straight down the course, making it very hard going and causing real problems for crews getting onto the stake boats.

We also camped overnight and had a really good evening, helped by finding a secluded camping area and making into “mini-MK” for the night. Good food, good drinks and good company – obviously a recipe for success, looking at the Sunday results!

Saturday
A bright start to the day, but strong winds blowing as we headed up to Peterborough. Quite a good turn out of crews, across both Men’s and Women’s squads. Entries seem down on previous years as the trailer park wasn’t as jammed as we’ve seen it and the car park didn’t extend beyond the spectator line. We set up camp and then settled in by the finish line to watch the day’s racing.

W.IM3 4+
No idea what to expect from this boat, as it was a completely scratch crew, comprising Helen, Liz, Alice and Sam, with Tim coxing. In their heat they put in a solid row to finish second behind X-Press, good enough to see them into the repêchage. They felt there was more to come and so it proved, with a storming win in the repêchage to put them into the final.

Knowing they needed to find yet more, they started fast, pushed into the lead and held off a determined fight back from the other crews to pull away and take the win. A really great set of races, and wonderful to see both Alice and Sam de-novice, especially at a top event and in such atrocious weather conditions. A bit of a shock though to find they all copped for two rowing points as there were more than eight boats in the event!

W.Masters B/C 4+
One side effect of the W.IM3 4+ boat getting to the repêchage was that this led to a crew clash with Helen being in that boat and the Masters 4+ which was scheduled eight minutes later. Despite Tim’s shuttle mission between the other crews and Race Control, this proved impossible, so they were left with trying to get Helen swapped and back up the course as quickly as possible.

In the event, despite a rapid change of crew and a frantic row back up the course, having told all the marshals what was happening, as the ladies got to the 250m meter mark, their race was started without them as they weren’t at the start at the correct time.

It’s hard to put into words just how upsetting this was; had it been them just boating late, fair enough but when we’d done everything to inform everyone and the crew were so close to the start, it seems unreasonable. This was made even more galling when our double was held up and raced out of sequence – to accommodate another crew who had had a crew clash.

Masters D 2x-
The heat saw Steve and I against Champs, Ardingly and Oundle. Knowing the first three went through, our aim was to try and sit on Oundle and make sure we led them. We had a good start and were up with Champs and Ardingly for the first couple of hundred meters and this put us clear of Oundle and allowed us to take it down a bit and just watch them through to the end, to put us into the final.

The final was clearly going to be a massive challenge, pitting us against Champs, Ardingly and Poplar, all of whom have beaten us easily. Sculling in the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in, I struggled badly and we were dropped off very quickly, with (not surprisingly) Poplar winning comfortably and the other crews well ahead of us.

IM3 2x-
Mike and Nelson reprising their boat from our Regatta, up against two Peterborough crews and one from Newark. Considering the conditions and their lack of water time together, they did really well, holding on to the other crews pretty well but unable to make it through to the final.

IM2 4+
A new look crew of Mike, Tim, Josh and Nelson were pitted against a strong line up of UEA, Peterborough and a composite from various London Unis. Another close race but the others were a bit too good and our guys finished in the tail end spot.

W.Mas B/C 4x-
A first outing for a Women’s Masters quad, with Paula, Lou, Clare and Karen. As with virtually every race, there were problems getting attached to the stake boats, as soon as one got attached, another would drift round. Eventually, all four crews were (sort of) aligned and the race started, Being a mixed (B/C) event, our ladies were off first but a big squall pushed them off course and into Star Club’s lane. This resulted in the race being halted and our crew being disqualified; a very bad day at the races for Paula, Lou and Karen who’d been in the W.Masters B/C 4+ boat earlier.

IM3 4x-
Our last (and very nearly THE last) race of the day saw Tim, Josh, Steve and I out in the quad, for the first time since the same event last year (well, you can over practice…). Drawn against Royal Chester, Peterborough and Rob Roy, we got a storming start with us and Rob’s pulling out into the lead. Suddenly, there was a lurch and I realised that Josh, in front of me, seemed to have had a problem. I then noticed he wasn’t on his seat but on the decking – in a quite amazing feat of gymnastics, he managed to hop himself up, onto the seat and pick up, all without missing a stroke although he then nearly pulled a crab. This had dropped us at least a length and a half off of the leaders and back level with Royal Chester. Digging very deep we wound up the pace and ate into Rob’s lead. Unfortunately, we ran out of lake and despite all our efforts lost out – but by just half a length!

End of the day
So ended a really frustrating day of racing. We were all upset over the treatment of the Women’s Masters Boat and the inconsistency of how the rules were applied.

The conditions were dreadful, strong winds making any manoeuvring at the start really difficult, although all credit to our coxes and steers people who seemed to cope better than most. Having said that, some of the coxing was simply woeful, with coxes with no clue about how to position a boat or hold it on station.

Still, we all retired to our “village” for a really nice evening, sharing a barbie and a few beers and having a good laugh. It does seem one of the things about MKRC, that we all get on really well off the water and evenings like this are just such good fun. As a really nice touch, Paula (who’d had to take Jo back to Uni after finishing her races) reappeared with a couple of bottles of bubbly, to toast Sam and Alice’s de-novicing; very well received!

Sunday
We had entered an impressive contingent of ten crews up for the 500m Sprint race on Sunday. We awoke to a similar wind to yesterday, maybe a little lighter, but mostly grey and horrid. Not a nice day for racing, but still.

W.IM3 4+
After a quick reshuffle of crews following the brilliant win by the Women yesterday, the crew entered at IM2 swapped to IM3 having just few enough points. in the heat, a strong start and solid row saw Andi, Lindy, Ash and Sam cruise into first place to book a place in the final. First race of the day and off to a good start for the club.

From the start in the final, one of the crew missed a stroke and this slewed the boat around; rather than continuing and (probably) getting disqualified, Liz (coxing) stopped the boat, straightened up and set off in pursuit. Over 500m this was too much and although they overhauled one boat, they could only finish a disappointing third.

IM3 2x-
With Nelson not being available, Gwen sat in with Mike in their first race (outing?) together. In the heat, they did enough to finish third, taking them into the final.

Racing against more experienced crews, they were going to struggle but put up a really good row. Finishing last but still in contention, a good first race for the two of them.

W. Mas C 4+
With no dramas today, the Women’s Master four were able to start this race. Up against Bedford, St. Neots and a formidable looking Peterborough/Leicester composite (who’d won the event yesterday by a very long way) we expected our ladies to be battling it out for second. They had different ideas…

Off the start, they flew off keeping up with the composite and leaving the others in their wake. About halfway, Steve (coxing) called a push, the ladies responded and Steve shouted that they were rowing through the other crew. Paula, used to Steve’s economy with the truth when coxing, glanced across and saw this was actually the case. Pushing again, they seemed to break the other crew and then powered away, to storm to our first win of the day. After the disappointment of the previous day, to put that behind them and take such a big scalp really did give all of us a huge lift. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen by an MKRC crew.

W.IM2 4+
We were all just getting our breath back for the Women’s win when the next race down the course provided our second win of the day. Yesterday’s W.IM3 4+ boat, rowing at IM2 today clocked up another impressive row and beat off the other finalist from Warwick quite comfortably.

W.IM1 2x-
Our next boat out, Andi and Liz sculling as a double for the first time, provided our next win. With Andi stroking and Liz steering, they were able to push into a lead and hold it, crossing the line a length clear.

W.Mas Nov 2x-
Clare and Karen made up this new combination, with Clare steering for the first time in a race. Up against two Peterborough boats and a Champs one, this was a tough final. After an early diversion, Clare got the boat bang on course and they were very much in contention right to the end, but unfortunately finished last. However, an encouraging first race and a big well done to Clare on steering.

IM2 4+
Next up was the Men’s coxed four. Obviously stung that the ladies had clocked three wins to the mens’ none by this point, they really went for it. A new combination saw Mike, Benn, Tim and Josh involved in a really close race but they had enough to pull through the other crews, to add another win for the club. Given the strength of the opposition (including a composite of Uni kids) this was another very fine performance.

Mas D 2x-
With Steve and I drawn against an ominous looking trio of Poplar Blackwell, Champs and Nemesis, we knew this would be tough, very tough, as all three crews have beaten us comprehensively in the past. In the event, the Poplar Blackwell boat didn’t appear (quite funny – the marshals didn’t realise they weren’t there and were getting really stressed at a Warwick double that they thought were Poplar!) leaving us sandwiched between the other two. Despite a good start which kept us up with the other two, their superior ability and power soon told and by 200m Steve was calling to save it for the quad later, as we were so far adrift. Again, really horrid conditions, and I was struggling to cope in these.

IM2 2-
Benn and Tim were next up, racing their pair. In a close fought encounter, they finished last of the three boats – clearly disappointed, which augers well for them as a crew as they feel there’s a lot more to come..

IM3 4x-
With Tim having dropped out to row in the pair, Gwen replaced him in the quad from Saturday, with Josh moving to stroke. Our opponents were Peterborough and this turned out to be the crew we’d beaten easily the previous day.

From the start, we pushed away from them and were able to control the race comfortably, concentrating on keeping it clean and not making any mistakes rather than on power. Despite this, we continued to pull away all down the course and claimed our last win of the day.

What we hadn’t realised was that Josh was still a sculling novice, until he (quite modestly) told us as we were paddling in after the race, so another de-novice for the club.

Overall
We were all still buzzing from the results while we were packing up when they announced the results of the Victor Ludorum for the day. Normally, this just passes us by as this usually goes to the “big” clubs who put in loads of entries. Not today; to our amazement, Milton Keynes finished <strong>third overall</strong>, a quite spectacular result for the club.

It was then an en masse visit to Race Control to get our winning chits and then to the club to pick up our pots. Including the Saturday win, we collected a grand total of 24 pots – as seen below! Fortunately, they had run out of medals for those events held as straight finals, so we all got a proper trophy (to me, medals always seem a bit insignificant).

Having packed up it was time to head home, tired, but well pleased with the day’s effort. On the way back to MKRC, the heavens opened as well, so we’d been really fortunate that we’d kept dry (if cold) all week-end.

My views…
I guess it was the weather with the strong winds causing everyone to get more stressed but, other than our results, I didn’t enjoy this year as much as previous events at Peterborough. Normally, the Peterborough regattas are great, well organised, well marshalled and highly competitive, with loads of competition. This year seemed to be the opposite; we had the really distressing incident with the Women’s crew on Saturday and the some of the marshalling could have been better (holding crews on the stake boats in high cross winds just to avoid starting a race a minute early is a bit too picky) and inconsistent treatment. The entries seemed way down on previous years, with the boat park well short of full (although a certain club did manage to make life very difficult for all by blocking virtually every single access, please think about others!) and the car park not even reaching up into the meadow.

A word of praise for Tim in all this – in between racing he was trying to sort out the entries for East Midlands Regatta next week. No sooner had he got everything sorted than one of our crews would win, changing the crews’ point and needing another call to the regatta secretary! Surprised he didn’t tell us all to stop trying so hard in the end!

Finally, I’ll return to one of my favourite rants, the craziness of the new BR points system. By winning in a straight final against one other crew, who were clearly way short of us, I pick up another sculling point. As Steve pointed out, one more and it makes me an IM2 sculler – I don’t think so!!! All that is happening is rowers are being pushed into higher levels, where they are just going to act as “cannon fodder” for the better crews. This is demoralising and will lead to people not bothering to race. I know the argument is that not giving points for races with less than four entries led to pot hunting by crews (although I’ve never been aware of anyone doing this) but with all the results computerised at BR, surely there is scope to allow a maximum number of no point wins before giving rowers a point? This could also cover Mixed and Masters events, making it more even throughout.

Please note the views in this blog are my personal ones and do not reflect the official view of Milton Keynes Rowing Club. If you disagree with anything here, please use the comments section to discuss, rather than going to the club.

Links

Saturday Results (pdf)
Sunday results (pdf)
MKRC Videos (courtesy of Benn)


Peterborough Regatta 2010

June 9, 2010

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


Peterborough Spring Regatta 2009

June 9, 2009

Following last week-end’s glorious weather at Dorney, for the Met, the Peterborough Spring Regatta took place in more typical British Spring weather. Cold, grey and wet, especially Sunday. Still, the racing more than made up for it, with some excellent races on Saturday, culminating in two wins on Sunday.

Saturday

First up were the Women’s IM3 4+ crew (Helen J, Paula, Becks and Clare with Lindy making a coxing début). Despite a very early clash of blades with Parr’s Priory they kept their nerve to finish second and secure a place in the repêchage. Next up were the Men’s IM3 4+ crew, a first outing together for Henry, Will, Dan and Pete, Karen coxing them. This was a really exciting race with a the guys making an incredible last charge to force a photo finish with Norwich – that last effort was worth it as they took the heat win and progressed to the final.

The W.IM3 4+ crew were then back in action in their repêchage, but were dropped to third place behind strong crews from Broxbourne and Trafford. Quite a hard race for the spectators with both us and Trafford in virtually identical black/green kit!

In the IM3 4+ final, the guys trailed in last – still, a good showing in their first race together (especially as Dan was trying so hard he came off his seat!).  Lots of potential here.

The last races of the day were the IM3 4x- boat (Pierre-Yves, Simon, me and Steve); a good start kept us in contention early on but we fell away in the latter stages of the race to finish last in a straight final. This race also took the edge off of Steve and I who raced just 40 minutes later in the Vet D 2x-, again trailing in last. Our final crew of the day were Nick and Paul as an IM2 2- pair, finishing second in their final (OK, only three boats and one was disqualified, but they were second!

No wins today but some very good performances, especially from the men’s four.

Sunday

Another Women’s IM3 4+ crew out today, this time the crew that finished fourth at the Met, Charlene, Jo, Lindy and Steph, with Paula making her coxing bow. Quite a surprise for some of the crews from yesterday as they thought it was the same boat (especially one Uni crew overhead saying they had an easy run as they’d beaten MK the day before…). This crew just blew away the opposition in the first round, finishing very clear of the others to move through to the semi-final. Putting down a marker, they were the only crew below 2 minutes in this round.

The second round race was pretty much a repeat of the first; dominating the race from the start to finish at least a length clear of second; again, the only boat under 2 minutes in the semis, this put them into pole position for the final.

Pierre-Yves and I took advantage of a break in our crews racing to get out for a quick practice session. We figured this was a good idea as we’d not raced together before and hadn’t been out in a double together for many months. A good session with quite a few starts thrown in – this was to pay dividends later.

We returned to the course to go out in the IM3 4x- crew that had raced the previous day; another good start saw us in early contention but our lack of race practice as a crew showed and after a couple of mistakes we dropped back to third. This was good enough to see us through to the final though, the first time we’d not finished last so another indicator of progress.

Straight out of the quad and into the double saw Pierre-Yves and I going off as a Vet Novice 2x-. The practice really paid off as we hit an almost perfect start which took us a couple of lengths clear. We were then able to sit on the other crews through the race, finishing first easily. A very nice feeling, watching the other crews trying to hunt us down – not been there before!

Just 40 minutes to recover and Pierre-Yves and I were back in the final of the VN 2x-. Another great start put us in the lead, although Beccles pushed us very hard over the first 200m we powered away to win and de-novice. Pretty proud of our time as well, at 1m 52s in the final. A really great feeling coming through the last 100m knowing we’d got this in the bag (barring any coconut related incident).

Having abandoned Steve for Pierre-Yves, he’d entered as a Vet D 1x in his first solo race for some time. A strong sculling performance saw him come second, still very much in contention with the leader.

It was now time for the W.IM3 4+ final. Clearly their performances had fired up the other crews and DMU flew off the start to hold the lead for the first half of the race. Our girls’ power and strength asserted itself in the second half and they stormed through to take the win with Jo de-novicing at last (15 pots, no points!). Again, they posted a sub 2-minute time – the only crew to break that barrier and they did so in each race.

Our final event of the day was the IM3 4x- final. Very similar to the other races, a good start but fading away during the race.

So, overall a pretty good week-end for the club in general and me in particular! I think I’ve just set a club record as the oldest person to de-novice; I suspect this one will stand for a long time! Sets us up well for the Nat Vets next week (although I’ve just blown our IM3 status!)

Photos on line now at MKRC fotopic site – do check out just how relaxed Pierre-Yves is in both races….


Peterborough

August 10, 2008




Only a couple of crews out at Peterborough Regatta, both on the Saturday. However, the lack of numbers was made up for by the quality of the rows by the two crews. Although neither crew won, both put in very impressive performances.

First off was the Women’s Senior 4 Coxed Four (Paula, Steph, Lindy and Helen, coxed by me). A tough looking first round draw put us against Twickenham, Leeds and Peterborough. The girls put in a really strong start and at the first push just powered away from the other crews. Peterborough tried hanging on but our ladies were just too strong and eased off towards the end, winning by a couple of lengths. A really impressive row to take them through to the final.

Next up were the Mens Senior 4 Eight – only the second outing for the eight and a couple of changes with Will coming in for Paul and me subbing for Byron (interesting as I was then rowing bow side but normally do stroke). After being caught in a traffic jam going up to the start, we were last on the stake boats and with a strong cross-wind blowing all the coxes were having difficulty lining up. This led to arms going up and down while coxes tried to get straight – inevitably, the umpire lost patience and started the race even though all crews weren’t ready. We started off pointing straight towards the crew in lane 3! After this we were always going to struggle and were soon trailing. A good strong performance saw us gain steadily on CCAT and we finally overtook them with around 200m to go, to finish a creditable third.

On to the final of the Women’s S4 4+ – we lined up against Staines and Peterborough (Cambridge 99 not showing). The start wasn’t quite so good, allowing Staines to get slightly in front and we were to chase them hard all the way. Again, an early push saw off Peterborough but was covered well by Staines; They sat at half a length advantage all the way to around 750 when they started easing away. The ran out winning by around a length and a half but our time of 3:59 was one the ladies can be really proud of. Especially considering this was Lindy’s second ever race and first 1K!

The juniors took advantage of the trailer going up to Peterborough to grab a lift and went out for a long coaching session on the river, covering 22K.

The weather was atrocious but the performances from the two crews really made it worthwhile.

Update: Photos now on-line at mkrc.fotopic.net – I only have photos of the eight – if anyone has photos of the women’s crew in either round, please could I have a copy?