St. Neots Regatta 2011

August 10, 2011

This year’s St Neot’s Regatta saw us pick up two wins on both days, continuing our winning run nicely. These came from a variety of sources, again showing the increasing breadth of competitive crews in the club. Our winners in the 1,000m races on Saturday were the new pairing of Tom and Mike, sculling at IM2x- and a ladies Quad of Liz, Andi, Sam and Lindy, racing at IM2 (with Sam de-novicing at sculling). Sunday’s 500m winners were the highly impressive juniors John and Alex, winning the IM3 event (Alex de-novicing at just 16!) and the mixed eight of Benn, Mike, Tim, Tom, Liz, Andi, Lindy and Jo.

With too many races to remember (and me being very busy) this entry won’t have the usual details of every race. Instead, I’ll just pick out some of the outstanding memories of (another) great week-end at St Neots.

Saturday didn’t actually start very auspicially. One of the first boats out was the double of John and Alex, rowing as J18. Their opponents appeared round the corner at the allocated race time, but no sign of them. Several races later, they came into view, but with only John sculling. As they passed us the reason became clear, as Alex was sitting nursing one complete blade and one in two pieces. He’d caught a crab off the start, the blade flicked under the boat and when he tried to free it, it snapped.

Strangely enough, John then had an almost identical problem in his single later in the day. This time though he went for the soft option and simply rolled in to the water. To his great credit, his opponent agreed to a re-row even though this wasn’t required, so well done to him.

Following the theme, John wasn’t to be the last soggy junior of the day – Roisin also got in on the act, this time just before the finish, in full view of the crowd. To her credit, she did exceptionally well to tow her boat clear of the course, well before the next race got to her.

The rest of the racing didn’t produce quite so much drama, although there were some incredibly close races. I had the honour of coxing one of these, the Men’s Novice 4+; after a slow start, our opponents pulled out to pretty much a two length lead around the bend but to their credit, our guys really went for it. A couple of strong pushes seemed to panic the other crew and by the finish line we were (as the commentator kept putting it) bowball—to bowball. We honestly didn’t know who had got it but the verdict finally came that our opponents had taken the win, by a bowball! A bit of work on the starts and this crew won’t be novices for long!

After a good day’s racing, we all retired to the MKRC “village” and set in for a very pleasant evening gathered around the Barbie, with the odd beer or two thrown in.

Sunday saw another day of close, exciting racing but pride of place has to go to John and Alex. Recovering from their broken blade incident yesterday, they cruised through the first two rounds, sculling at IM3 rather than Junior, to set up a final against ??. This they made look easy, pulling away off the start and striding out to a comfortable win.

The Mixed Eight had a relatively easy first round win, putting them into a final against hosts St. Neots. This was a far closer event, although our boat grabbed the lead and held on, St Neots pushed them really hard all the way, finishing just half a length down.

My views
Another wonderful week-end at St Neots. I love the atmosphere and the proximity of the spectators to the racing – and some really close hard races on both days. It was nice to see they’ve taken a more relaxed view on campers and barbies this year and restricting them to the far side of the path is a really smart move too.

I guess the only gripe is that our original entries were seriously cut back, through lack of competition. This meant Lou and Clare not getting any races and Paula just getting the one. Although I understand this is lack of other crews, how about closing entries a few days earlier, notifying the clubs that have had crews rejected and allowing them to rejig and resubmit crews into categories where there is competition? This way, our crews get a race and the host club gets more money – surely a “win-win”?


St Neots Regatta 2010

July 24, 2010

A combination of factors lead to a disappointing turn out for this year’s St. Neots Regatta. With many club members away or with other commitments, and one boat being scrubbed through lack of competition, we were down to just four boats on Saturday and five on Sunday. Despite no wins on Saturday, Jo and Liz reprised their success at Bedford and won the W.IM2 2x- on Sunday

Saturday – 1,000m

IM3 4x-
We put in a new line up of Tom R, Tim, Steve and I (with Pierre-Yves away), rowing at IM3 rather than Masters C. Despite a lack of practise in this combination, our first round went very well. We put in a cracking start, which put us clear on Maidstone. Round the corner they pulled back a bit, having the inside lane, but we held on and pushed away, finishing a length and three-quarters clear. This put us into the final, pitching us against a Boston crew. They matched us off the start and made use of the inside of the bend to pull away. Despite a hard row, we couldn’t close on them and they took the win by a length.

IM3 1x-
Tim was up against a sculler from Doncaster Schools who looked to be far more experienced, even if younger. Although having the inside line, Tim was down coming into the straight and was unable to reel him.

Masters D 2x-
Steve and I out in our usual double – a good start saw us heading Abingdon into the corner. Despite a strong push from them, we maintained a small lead to about 750m. Then (certainly for me, don’t know about Steve!) the effort from the Quad started to tell and they pushed past us to finish a length clear.

Women’s IM2 2x-
Liz and Jo reprising their double from Bedford, albeit with less success… This being the first time out at St Neots for Liz, they steered an “interesting” course which led them into Leeds’ lane. Although they were clear and didn’t impede Leeds (who had pushed them across in the first place), Leeds lodged a protest which was upheld, leading to the girls being disqualified. Very unfortunate, especially as the umpire said he’d have ordered a re-row if it had been the final rather than disqualifying them.

Sunday – 500m

W.Nov 2x-
A first race (and only third outing) from Yemin and Lou as a Novice double. This shows a lot of potential as they stuck with their opponents all down the course until a slight steering glitch cost them time. An encouraging début to finish three lengths down.

W.IM2 4+
Given the lack of preparation for this crew (they were discussing seating plans and who was stroking first thing in the morning) they performed brilliantly. Another new combination, this time with Lindy, Paula, Karen and Lou coxed by Liz, they pulled off a great start in their heat and then sat on the Bedford crew all the way to the finish, winning by one and a half lengths. This saw them into the final, against a very good Peterborough crew; level off the start, the Peterborough ladies pushed through to finish three quarters of a length down.

Mst D 2x-
Steve and I in our usual combination – for some reason, we fluffed our start and this gave the Maidstone crew a half length lead at least. Although we were pleased with our row, we weren’t able to haul back anything and they finished three quarters of a length up (and then went on to win the event).

Mixed IM3 2x-
On a personal level, this was really pleasing – not often you get to race seriously with your daughter! Having done this event for a bit of fun at our regatta, Jo and I decided to give it a serious go at St. Neots. Partly, this was based on an expectation of there being a handful of crews; wrong! This was a tough event with a dozen crews entered. We pulled a Lincoln boat in the first round and shall we say youth triumphed over experience as we trailed in a length and a half down. However, we were pleased with the row and we weren’t that far off the pace.

W.IM2 2x-
Jo and Liz were determined to put yesterday’s disappointment behind them and they did so in style. A first round win over the RAF by two lengths was followed by a semi-final victory over Leeds by a length. This put them into the final, almost inevitably against the Leeds crew who they raced and were disqualified against the previous day. Despite not having one of their better starts, the two powered through and pushed away from the Leeds boat to finish three quarters of a length up and win the category

Disappointing turn out from the club, especially compared to previous years and slim pickings on Saturday. More than made up for by a well deserved victory for the W.IM2 2x- although this now puts them up to the lofty heights of IM1!

Again, a really well run event, Saturday bang on time and Sunday running early. Well done to St Neots RC for this. A lot of discussion in the crews about how they scheduled events – I personally liked it but others weren’t convinced. What they did was to schedule heats, semis and finals for each event as closely as possible. This meant fairly small gaps (45 minutes or so) between races but all crews had the same recovery time so no-one got an advantage and it removed the problem of clashes later in the day.

Couple of intriguing happenings on the Sunday as well – first, the Northampton double that managed to completely snap a blade – during their race. It seemed that bow hit a “buoy” (i.e. a milk carton) and this was enough the shear a carbon fibre oar in two, impressive.

Second was the St Neots quad that arrived at the finish without their bow man, who’d appeared a few minutes earlier on the safety launch, dripping wet and with his blades. What happened and how they managed to navigate the quad with no steers person are two of life’s great mysteries…

Photos (from both days) on line at the fotopic site

Results are available at the St. Neots RC site

St. Neots Regatta 2009

August 1, 2009

I guess it shows how far we have progressed, especially the Women’s squad, that coming away from St. Neots without a single win feels really disappointing. There were some very good races and close finishes across both days plus a really good social evening on the Saturday but not a successful week-end overall.

First crew out was the Womens IM3 4+. This was a slight change from Bedford with Yemin replacing Charlene (both availability and points!) and they went out (most surprisingly!) in the first round to the Broxbourne crew they had beaten the previous week. Broxbourne went on to win the event – typically, ours was the closest race they had all day. Next up was John Cunningham – no, not JC in person but the boat, racing with a Mixed IM2 8+. Despite a TOTAL lack of practice they gave Lea a hard row, losing by just one and a third lengths over the 1K course. Some very interesting comments from the marshals about it being unusual to see John’s name on anything other than a bar tab….

Following this was the biggest mismatch of the day. Having entered our Vet C quad and agreed to switch to IM3 if no competition, we were not impressed by finding we were racing instead at IM2. The race would have been a walk over for Star even if we hadn’t had two boat stopping crabs. Our annoyance at this was then compounded by not being entered at IM3 on Sunday although there was opposition. The whole draw process was a complete joke – wake up SNRC and join the 21st century and use OARA! As it was, we might as well have not raced it was so one sided.

Final race of the day was Steve and I in the Vet D 2x. Racing against the losing finalists from Henley Vets was always going to be a tall order but we were pleased with our row, even though we lost by a couple of lengths.

Following the day’s racing we retired for a few beers and a barbie (one of dozens, despite the insistence that no clubs were to have a barbie – there was a haze of smoke hanging over the field!)

So to the 500m sprints on Sunday. The first boat out was the Womens Novice 4+. Despite being drawn against Barnes Bridge Ladies, their opposition was Doncaster. Apparently, the event was re-drawn as one crew had scratched the previous evening, so we were moved – only for another crew to scratch leaving us disadvantaged. And I thought draws were fixed and if a crew scratched that was your good fortune. Anyhow, our novice women rowed a stormer, despite being off line at the start, to come through for a win. Next up was (can’t figure this out) Barnes Bridge Ladies. A real disappointment here, as one of the crew caught a boat stopper when they were leading comfortably, handing the race to BBL on a plate. A real pity as they looked well on top and who knows where they would have finished.

Second crew of the day was a Mixed Quad, with Steve and I being joined by Clare and Bex. Seeing as we had never rowed as a crew before, losing to Doncaster by a length wasn’t bad!

Next up was what was described by the race commentator as the Women’s Blue Riband event – the IM3 8+. Really, really nice to see us able to put out a ladies eight – and a very strong one at that. They had Maidstone Invicta in the first round and once they settled and got the power on, rowed through the other crew for a comfortable win. The final saw an epic race, again with Barnes Bridge Ladies. Steve and I had a grandstand view of the finish of this one, having just boated for our Vet D 2x race. The boats were pretty level over the last 100m, with both crews clearly giving it everything. BBL had just enough though, pipping our crew by just a third of a length. Credit to the BBL crew, they had only de-noviced the previous day and look like a class act – very gracious in victory as well.

Steve and I had a re-run of the previous day’s race, against the same Peterborough pair. Whatever the reason, it just didn’t come together and we wound up losing by a bigger margin over 500m than over 1000m the previous day! Oh well…

Photos on-line at MKRC Photo site but no results from SNRC yet.

We do like St Neots week-end but this year was, I’m sorry to say, an organisational shambles. Our Novice 4+ was “missed” from the Saturday draw, the quad bumped to IM2 without consultation and dropped from IM3 on Sunday and many of our boats just dropped completely. By the way, we are still waiting for a refund on these events – as a small club, we can’t afford to subsidise big clubs like SNRC and will have to think long and hard about racing there next year.

St. Neots Autumn Head

October 7, 2008

The fun of the regatta season is over and we’re back into that unbridled joy that is the head season.  Yesterday was our first head of the season, over at St. Neots. We’d had to pull most of our senior crews (no opposition – what is going on here!!!) so the bulk of the entries came from the juniors.

Hopefully, the weather isn’t a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. It was dire. It rained all the way there and continued all through the first three divisions. Then it got cold. And windy. And colder.

Anyway, enough of the weather, to the racing. Our first crews out were Steve and I, Vet C 2x., and Kieran, J16 1x. After much faffing around at the start (not terribly well marshalled I’m afraid) we got off. It had been raining so much that we had about an inch of water in the bottom of the boat  (useful for gauging how powerful the strokes were, as it surged more when we put the power down) but despite this we had a good row and finished with a pleasing time of 10:59. Much credit to Steve who steered an awesome line down the course, absolutely spot on throughout. There was one great point when Steve called that we were pulling out – to overtake another crew. First time we’ve done that, so very gratifying.

Other crews out were Karen (her first competitive outing in a single for around 20 years, so all credit to her for that!), and Bethany and Jordan (singles and doubles) and Salv and Kieran (also singles and doubles, Salv’s first race for us).

No overall wins to report but three second places (all three of the doubles) and very impressive rows all round. The juniors are definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with and it can’t be long before we get a win, surely.

Final drama of the day was getting off the trailer park. We pushed the trailer off through the quagmire then I needed some willing volunteers to push my car out! Then back home, via Star Club to pick up Martin’s newly acquired boats for the juniors and, a little sadly, Jo’s boat. Following a massive disagreement with her coach at Star, she’s now left them and is coming back to row for us full time. Still, Star’s loss is most definitely our gain so welcome back Jo!

St Neots weekend

July 29, 2008

I do like St. Neots Regatta weekend!

We had a really good time again this year and came away with a couple of wins, some very close defeats, some storming performances and a much higher club profile. The winning crews were the S3 Quad on the Saturday (with a little help from Star) and the Women’s Novice 4+ on Sunday.

The club had a very large entry this time around and it set a number of firsts and highs. The boat trailer was the fullest we’ve ever taken anywhere, stacked with an eight, three fours, three doubles and three singles, all of which were used over the weekend.

Saturday’s racing:

J15 2x (Curtis and Kieran) – lost in first round

J15 1x (Curtis) – lost in first round

J15 1x (Kieran) – lost in first round

S3 4x (Pierre, Josh, Rob and Steve) – winners!

WS4 4+ (Paula, Steph, Clare and Terri) – lost in final

Vet C 2x (Rob and Steve)

Story of the day was the quad – Erica should have been rowing but didn’t realise she was entered for both days. We found this out about an hour before the race! After much discussion about alternatives, we asked Martin if he could drop in; he wasn’t too keen on this (suffering from hang-over) but did agree. He went off with Steph to sort out the entry and came back to tell us it was all fixed but that we had Josh from Star club instead of Martin. Our opposition (Globe) had kindly agreed to the swap – we promptly repaid them by pulling off a storming start to get ahead of them by the end of the corner, cancelling out their advantage from the stagger, then holding them off all the way to win by two lengths. A hard race as the Globe crew certainly pushed us all the way.

Those of us that were camping over had a great evening, after all, we DID have to christen those pots!

So to Sunday. An early start as we thought we had a 9:03 race in the Quad. In the event, this was against a “status change” that didn’t materialise. Next up were Curtis and John, racing as a J15 2x; considering that John has been rowing for just a couple of months, they put in a good performance, losing out eventually. The Women’s S4 4+ had a bye to their final so next up were Curtis and Kieran, rowing in singles. Curtis went down to a Doncaster sculler but Kieran took his first ever race win, beating a Lea sculler convincingly.Steve and Rob then went out in the Vet C 2x but were well beaten (although using the junior’s HG instead of their usual one probably didn’t help!).

Then came the race of the day. This was an amazingly hard fought and close race between the Womens Novice 4+ against Star. Despite a slow start, our Ladies powered through to take the win by the narrowest of margin – neither crew was sure who had won until the official verdict of MKRC by half a canvas!

The next round of the J15 1x saw Luke put up a very hard race before clipping the mooring rope of a barge which stopped him pretty well and Kieran went out to the same Doncaster sculler that had seen of Curtis earlier. Our S3 4x crew were unable to repeat yesterday’s success, although a crew that is eligible as Vet C is always going to struggle against the Star kids crew….

Our next event was very encouraging, on a number of levels. This was a Men’s S4 8+; the first time I can remember MKRC putting out a Men’s eight in a regatta (may even be the first time ever – anyone know different?) and it included four new members in their first ever races. These guys have been rowing for no more than four months or so, and of the rest of the crew there were two novices, one on zero pints and just one more experienced rower. Given this, they put in a good showing but losing to the Maidstone Invicta crew.

After this, it was the turn of the Novice women, this time against Peterborough. Another really strong performance saw them win convincingly, by two lengths. One of the most surreal moments of the day came at the end, when Steve (cox) told the girls to start winding down, to save themselves for the next race – only to be told by a VERY excited crew that this was the final and they’d won, taking pots and de-novicing! Real congratulations in order here, to Charlene (at last – so many wins in non-qualifiers and near misses), Sadie, Helen and especially Lindy. This was he first ever race, having taken up rowing only around four months ago. This puts her as the new club record holder for fastest to de-novice.

This was a hard act to follow, but the Senior 4 4+ Women came so close to doing so. They had a straight final against Star (again!) and recovered from a slow start to pull up to an agonisingly close defeat by half a length. A good row by Paula, Steph, Clare and Helen and so near to a third club win on the week-end.

Our last entry of the day was another special one. This was the twins, Jordan and Bethany, in a J13 2x. Even more commendable as they only started sculling about three months back – I remember taking them out in Virus boats for their first session! Not surprisingly they lost but a tremendously courageous start!

As I said at the top, a great week-end for the club, with so many highlights:

  • largest number of entries in one day
  • most boats taken to an event
  • biggest age range (J13 – Vet c)
  • most first timers (seven!)
  • first Men’s Eight in a Regatta
  • youngest ever crew
  • fastest de-novice

One really nice thing was the positive things being said about us as a club after this showing. After a few low profile turnouts, we really hit this with a bang and impressed a lot of people with the standard and scale of our crews.

Well done to everyone who turned out, including the large number of members who weren’t competing but still came along to support us.

As and when the results are posted on the St. Neots webite, I’ll add a link here.

Update: My photos are now on-line at These are low resolution to save space – if you want a high resolution copy of any of these, let me know. If you’ve got any photos you want to share, I can add these to the site as well.

St. Neots – crews

July 20, 2008

These are the crews that we have entered for St. Neots this coming week-end. Please let Paula know if there are any problems. Also, make sure you have a valid, up to date ARA card and that you either give it to Paula or Steph on Monday or Thursday or that you bring it with you at the week-end.

We’ll be camping over on the Saturday night and I know several others are, so even if you’re only rowing on Sunday, do come and join the party!

UPDATE: The draw is now out – see St. Neots RC. I’ve produced a list of who is in which event and when – St. Neots have done a great job on the draw with only a couple of possible clashes where Steve L is coxing and rowing. If anyone else would volunteer to cox instead of Steve in the WS4 4+ crews on both days, this would be a great help.


Women’s Senior 4+

Cox: Steve

Junior 15 1X


Junior 15 2X


Senior 3 4X


Vet C 2X



S3 4X


Vet C 2X


Women’s Senior 4+

Cox: Steve

Women’s Novice 4+

Cox: Rob

Senior 4 8+

Matt Jackson
Josh Vinden
Byron Williams
Oliver Arnott
Pete Gibson
Dan Gibson
Paul Floodgate
Steve Egli
Cox: Charlene

Junior 15X




Junior 15 2X


Women’s J13 2X