Peterborough training

October 23, 2011

Just recovering from a great day’s training at Peterborough, arranged by the brilliant Tim G! Mainly aimed at sorting out the Ladies’ crews for the Fours Head, it gave Steve and I a great opportunity to rack up a lot (18!) of Kilometres in our double.

After some really good seat races by the ladies, we’ve now got the quad and coxed four for the Tideway sorted and ready to go for this. Really encouraging to see so many of the women’s squad really pushing themselves to the limit for the right to race on the Thames in a couple of weeks. They were all certainly giving it their all. After eight 750m+ races in various combinations, the crews are all set for the big day.

Following this little paddle (and, by the way ladies, Steve and I racked up 2k more than you!) there was a little row up the Nene afterwards. This only added another 10k or so!!!!

Great day out and really wonderful to see the camaraderie amongst the squad – now for the Tideway…

Thanks again Tim!!!


Scratch regatta

May 3, 2011

Making full use of the Bank Holiday, last night saw us run another impromptu scratch “regatta”. This comprised four mixed crews, selected at random, racing in coxed fours in a round-robin event. Despite truly foul conditions, with a massive crosswind whipping up huge waves, it was a great, fun, event. There were some very close races and certainly plenty of competitive spirit in evidence…

The waves did make for some “interesting” rowing – a couple of us had the fun of placing the blade and then pulling through – in clear air, as the wave dropped away. Coxing was not for the feint hearted either, and definitely not for those wanting to keep dry.

Congratulations to the winning four of Tim, Steve, Andi and Lou, unbeaten across all three races.

A great evening, topped off by a club barbecue and then the brilliant news that Norwich were back in the Premier League!!!!

What a difference a week makes…

April 14, 2011

The contrast in this week’s training sessions couldn’t have been greater. Having just got home from a great session on almost perfectly flat water it seems hard to believe what we had on Monday. This session started out a with a bit of a breeze (well, a bit more than that but still rowable) and Tim and I got in a good few lengths. Gradually though the wind was strengthening and as the light was starting to go we agreed to do just one more length. This was a BIG mistake.

From somewhere the wind just picked up and up and up until we were bouncing all over the place, waves breaking over the front and rear canvases and spray everywhere; one big wave hit us and emptied itself all down my back. We got halfway back down the far side and decided to cut straight back across the lake to the clubhouse – by now the waves were so big we had me sit the boat while Tim spun it. Trying to scull across the swell was pretty hairy so we angled across, bouncing around like a cork, finally getting back to the pontoon after a pretty scary final length.

Paula and Jo were back as well and as their boat, Sharpie, is heavy at the best of times, I went to help lift it out. They grabbed both end and I took the middle; as we lifted it out and turn it over, the gallons of water in the bottom promptly emptied all down my front. That was bad enough but having wife and daughter almost in hysterics at this was the limit!

Strangely enough, despite the conditions it was actually a really good session, especially considering Tim and I hadn’t been in a double together for probably six months.

Tonight, we got down to the club and the lake was at the other extreme. Flat, calm water, surprisingly warm and just about perfect conditions for sculling. This allowed us to put in some good strong lengths and get in some racing starts, all good practice for Sunday. We decided to polish off the session by doing a couple of race starts against Paula and Jo, out again in their double. Off the first one, we got quite a good first few strokes but about five into the settle my right calf seized up with the most painful cramp I’ve ever had. It took me a good five minutes to recover, every time I put my foot back in the shoe, it just cramped again. Anyhow, it finally eased (but is still sore while I’m writing this) and we caught up with the other double for another go. This turned out to be our best start yet, so I’m trying to figure out how to induce cramp on the row down to the start at Leicester this Sunday! After a few more starts (including a couple of near collisions as our steering went off a bit) it was time to head in after a really good session.

Roll on Sunday, first Regatta of the season.

Veterans’ Head 2011

April 4, 2011

After the dire weather at training on Thursday and Saturday, it was a great relief to find Sunday morning breaking bright, sunny and (most importantly) calm. A very early start needed this morning as the race was scheduled for a 9:00 AM start, meaning we were away from the club at 6:15.

An uneventful run down to Chiswick, all hands on and we had the boat rigged and ready to go in 20 minutes, in plenty of time to boat. No last minute dramas today, Pierre-Yves not getting caught in traffic, unlike Hammersmith Head! Unlike WEHORR and Hammersmith Head, which ran on the highest tide I’ve seen on the Thames for years, today’s race was on pretty much the lowest tide I’ve seen.

The Civil Service was organised chaos with loads of boats getting out – the low tide allowed something like four or five crews to boat simultaneously, unlike the two at a time that normal conditions allow. Although this got all the crews out quickly it did lead to heavy congestion by Barnes bridge and in the ensuing crowd, we managed to almost lose our race number from the bows.

Anyhow, once out of the traffic, it was a nice controlled paddle up to the start, no real drama and excellent marshalling. None of the manic shouting of recent years but firm, polite calls. It makes such a difference. Racing at number 15, we didn’t have long to wait and pretty soon we were spinning and setting off for the start. The boat was sitting nicely and we accelerated over the start line and were off, just a mere four and a quarter miles to work through.

Rating around 32, we settled well and it seemed like quite a strong row. We were overhauled fairly quickly by a very fast moving Lea crew but looked like we were holding most of the other boats around us. Certainly, the conditions were much better than the last couple of sessions on Caldecotte Lake and the extra practice sessions were definitely paying off. An uneventful first half saw us through Hammersmith Bridge without incident although another crew caught and passed us just past the bridge. Coming up towards Fulham FC, Andi called another push as we were closing in on the crew in front. This, together with an increase in rating took us past Cantabs, a very nice feeling to be overtaking someone.

Towards the end, Andi called for another increase and somehow we managed to wind it up to an amazing (for us) 37 strokes per minute, making sure we weren’t passed by any of the other crews all pushing hard for the line. We went past the finish still flat out, before taking it down and spinning just past Putney bridge. It had been a good hard row, pretty stable most of the way and with some very strong pushes; all in all a pleasing performance.

Getting back proved to be an endurance event though. Because the tide was so low, there was no water at all through the small arch at Hammersmith, so the entire flotilla had to wait until the last racing crew had passed through the bridge before we were able to start on the journey back. Fortunately, it was warm and dry, otherwise this would have been miserable. As it was, this spread the field out and we were able to have a good practice paddle on the way back, fuelled by the Mars bars so thoughtfully provided by Paula!

Having arrived back at the Civil Service, we waded ashore, being careful not to ground the boat on the shallows and had it stripped and back on the trailer in no time. It was a slightly odd feeling though, to have finished the race and to be on our way home well before midday!

The results (here) were up later in the evening, and these gave us a time of 21:29.13, placing us 79th out of 204 overall but a disappointing 20th out of 21 in Masters B.

Evening rowing again!

March 31, 2011

With the clocks going forward, it’s been just light enough to get out on the water again in the evenings. Two sessions this week, both in the eight, training for the Vet’s Head on Sunday. These couldn’t have been more different – Monday was near perfect conditions, flat water, warm and a really pleasant evening. Tonight was blowing half a gale (average wind speed 25 knots) and the lake was choppy and very hard going.

Still, the contrast allowed us a pretty technical outing on Monday and sheer brute force this evening. The boat seems to be coming along nicely, the balance is getting there and all we need to hope for is decent conditions on the Tideway on Sunday (although after tonight, we can probably cope with just about anything).

Evening training again!

April 3, 2009

A combination of clocks going back and a nice day allowed us to escape the “joys” of circuits last night and get in our first water session in the evening this year. Nice to see so many small boats out, a four, a dobule and no less than four singles. Mind you, spotting the singles (and our “stealth” double – see pictures to see what I mean) in the gloom at the end was quite challenging.

A good extra session ahead of Bedford this week-end, allowing Will and I to get out in the double AHEAD of the race (not like usual) and Steve to dust off his single.

Can certainly tell it’s coming up to the Easter break as well. Suddenly our ranks are swollen by the (very welcome) return of the tax dodgers.

For info really, if you’re reading this and aren’t a member but would like to learn to row and/or scull, MKRC are running our first ever “Learn to Row” course, starting tomorrow morning. So, if you fancy a go, e-mail or just pitch up.

John Cunningham afloat!

February 28, 2009

Nope, not what you’re thinking!!

A really momentous event at training this morning. After many, many months of hard work by John (the person), John Cunningham (the boat) was ready. By good fortune we had nine guys down this morning and were able to take out the boat for it’s first run since we got it.

All of the effort from John (and Bob) is really worth it. The boat went really well, even with a scratch crew (including a couple of newbies) was quick and responsive and just sat so nicely. Mind you, I’d have loved to have seen John’s face (he was at bow for the maiden voyage) when Steve nearly steered straight into a buoy!

Even I enjoyed the outing (this is praise coming from someone who wonders where the second blade has gone in a sweep oar boat) – the funniest moments were seeing Nick and Pierre-Yves swapping seats; in the middle of the lake. Just a slight nervousness in Nick’s voice when he called for us to sit the boat, while he was standing up…

Good training outings for the ladies again, some very encouraging signs from these crews. Roll on the next race!