Cambridge Autumn Regatta 2010

September 14, 2010

A brilliant day out at Cambridge, with the largest ever entry from MKRC (both boats and people) including five men rowing for us for the first time, all capped by two wins. Both of these came in mixed events with Lindy and Tom racing in both. It was a really nice day as well, with good weather and everyone staying around all day. We certainly had one of (if not the) biggest bank side “camps” and a seriously impressive trailer load. Showing the recent growth in the club, this is also the first event that I can remember where both the Men and Women fielded an eight!

IM3 4+
A first outing for this crew, with Benn in his first race for the club. A hard race, against losing finalists First and Third Trinity, saw them beaten by one length. A pity that three of the crew will be back off to uni shortly as this boat shows great promise.

Mixed Novice 2x-
Tom and Lindy dominated this event, putting in two very strong races to beat both Deben and Peterborough with “easily” verdicts to win this category.

IM1 2-
Tim and Tom in a first outing in the pair had some steering issues that saw them finish well behind a Wolfson College crew. Still, it did give us the opportunity to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tom as they rowed past (this explains why both of them are grinning in the photos!).

Novice 4+
Quite a while since we were able to put out a mens’ novice boat. This featured Iain and Fred, two graduates of the “Learn to Row” course in their first ever race, plus Michael and David racing for MK for the first time. Being their first event, we weren’t expecting much but were very wrong – they gave a more experienced Star crew a good race, finishing just a length and a half down; a very creditable performance and augurs well for the future.

IM3 8+
This was the first mens’ eight out since St. Neots two years ago, and was basically a scratch crew (they certainly hadn’t trained in this combination before). Despite this, and with Iain and Fred in now their second ever race, they pushed Peterborough hard, losing by three quarters of a length. More practise (especially on starts) should see this boat on the pace pretty soon.

W Novice 2x-
More steering problems saw Lou and Yemin visit the bank a couple of times, causing them to lose easily to a Maidstone Invicta crew. Signs of potential though as when they got sorted were really moving the boat well.

CRA Womens 8+
a poor start from the Womens’ eight saw them drop a length behind Champion of the Thames and over 600m weren’t able to haul this back. Still, nice to see the ladies’ eight back in action as well.

W Masters B/C 4+
Despite having the handicap in their favour, this boat just didn’t click and struggled in three lengths down on Peterborough.

W IM2 4+ – two crews!
In the absence of any IM3 competition, the crew of Lindy, Ash, Andi and Helen “rowed up” at IM2. Unfortunately, their opponents in their first race were the (real) IM2 boat of Charlene, Paula, Jo and Steph. This turned out to be a cracker with “my” (I was coxing) girls in the IM3 crew pushing the others all the way, giving them a big scare with a late push. It finished with the IM2 crew just half a length down, a very good race.

In the final, the IM2 girls were against Peterborough; another slowish start dropped them a length down but they clawed this back to finish an agonising two feet behind the other boat. Another 50m and it would have been another story, but a really good, hard race.

Mixed Masters C/E 2x-
Not the best of races from Steve and Clare, fighting against the handicap to finish well off of the Peterborough double.

Masters B/C/D 4x-
My first race of the day, back in the “Henley” quad for the first time in ages. With a three second handicap in our favour (for a change!) we put in a good first half of the race and then hung on grimly as Medway Towns came back at us, crossing the line three quarters of a length up. A good feeling as this was our first win at any event for some time.

In the final we were on the wrong side of a four second handicap and, despite another really quick start, didn’t make much of a dent in Broxbourne’s lead, trailing in by two and a half lengths.

Masters C/D 2x-
Pierre-Yves and I looking to reprise our success from Peterborough a couple of years ago; trouble is we were against a Poplar, Blackwell and District double who’d been losing finalists at Henley – and they had a four second age handicap in their favour. As with the quad, a fast start clawed back some of the deficit but we’d have been pushed against them with no handicap and finished three lengths down.

Mixed IM2 4+
Our last race of the day saw our second win of the day. A very strong four of Tim, Tom, Lindy and Jo (with Steph coxing) powered off the start and pulled away from the Broxbourne boat, to take a well deserved win by two and a half lengths.

Despite only coming away with the two wins, this was a pretty good day for the club. It was really pleasing to see so many faces there, including partners and families, making it a great day out. Cambridge is a very nice location for a regatta, one of my favourites anyway, as you’re able to sit right on the river bank and watch. As with other years, the weather was superb, warm and sunny for most of the day.

We put out some good crews as well as the winners, a pity for the Womens’ IM2 boat as losing by just two feet really hurts; but this shows how competitive the ladies squad has become. Great to see some more of our Learn to Row novices coming through as well; and they enjoyed the experience.

The organisation is much better now, the only problems being caused by a higher level of other river traffic than usual (especially the unfortunate couple in a dinghy, who had their engine fail while on the course, with a race coming towards them!). They also took a very pragmatic approach to race times – if both crews were ready then they’d let them race whenever; it mucks up the race programme but did allow us to sort out various crew and boat clashes. Unusually, it was also pretty well incident free -normally there’s a few clashes between racing crews and those going up to the start but I can only remember one (a single sculler who just had to overtake all the other crews proceeding to the start – what a muppet).

So ends the regatta season though; next up the unbridled joy of head races…

Results (obviously using Will Everitt’s software) are on line at the Cambridge 99s Regatta page.

Even more surprisingly, my photos are also on-line, at the MKRC fotopic site

Cambridge Autumn Regatta 2009

September 18, 2009

The last regatta of the season saw the Women’s Squad bow out in fine style, taking the honours in the CRA Eight with two of this crew in the other winning boat of the day, a Mixed Coxed Four. The other crews didn’t fare as well, but another enjoyable day’s racing at Cambridge.

Mixed IM2 4+
A bit of a scratch boat (they’d rowed once together) but a very powerful crew saw off another X-Press crew in their straight final. A good hard race from start to finish saw our crew taking the honours by a length. A couple of firsts as well, with Tim getting his first rowing pot at MKRC after his move from Star and Steph picking up her first coxing pot. The crew didn’t have time to catch their breath before four of the crew had to leap straight out of this boat into the Women’s Eight for the final!

Women’s CRA Eight
The first round saw a comfortable win (four lengths) over X-Press Boat Club, with a strong performance from the crew in their first race together. Crew positions were rejigged from St. Neots, with Helen J taking up stroke duties from Charlene, to allow more conventional rigging of the boat. The final saw Champions of the Thames putting up a harder fight but again the strength and technique of our ladies proved too much and they pulled away for a one length win. Deserved pots all round, all the better as, being a CRA event, it was non-qualifying, so no points! A notable first was Tim coxing his way to his first coxing pot – a good day for him following rapidly on from the Mixed boat. All credit to Jo and Lindy who’d just raced in the winning mixed crew.

This second win allowed Lindy to bow out on a real high before departing to Derby Uni, with two pots from the day. We’ll miss you!

Women’s IM3 4+
A narrow defeat for this crew, losing out by under a length to a Peterborough boat. A good result considering this was this crew’s first race and they had to wait an extraordinarily long time for the race and consequently were very, very cold. This delay was unfortunate as Peterborough had their steering fail at the start and had to row back to get it fixed. I guess the lesson is that if this happens again, go back with the competition and not sit around getting cold.

Women’s Novice 4+
Knocked out in the first round by the eventual winners, Maidstone Invicta. Definite progress by the novice ladies though, tough luck getting such strong opponents in the first race.

Mixed IM3 4-
Yet another new crew combination, with Pierre-Yves making his steering debut in a quad. Despite a good start, against a strong looking Guildford quad, we dropped behind and lack of practice on a river course led us to steer across to the bank. After rattling a few blades on some of the crews heading for the start we then clashed heavily with a double that obviously didn’t feel keeping to the bank was an instruction for them and had strayed into the racing lane. This stopped us dead and, although we got going and sculled very well after this, we were to far adrift and had an “easily” verdict against us.

Vet C 2x-
This was Pierre-Yves’ and my first outing since our win at Peterborough and a combination of lack of outings and a very big and strong crew from Poplar Blackwell saw us drop away (although we did hold them for the first couple of hundred meters) to finish 3-4 lengths down.

Despite a big entry from the Juniors, a mix up on dates led to the whole lot scratching. Sorry Cambridge!

Very pleasing was the large number of supporters we had, so real thanks to Tom, Barry and Rob for braving the cold and wind to come along and cheer us on!

The organisation at the event is getting better each year – the delays this year were down to “incidents” (such as the Peterborough four losing their steering and a couple of capsizes) and a large number of river craft. Particular mention to the arrogant house boat who “couldn’t hear” calls to stop because there was a race on the course – fortunately the single scullers managed to avoid this moron.

A couple of great examples of coxing muppetry illuminated the day – one junior coxed quad so busy chatting amongst themselves that they ignored all the marshals and umpires telling them to keep in but award of the day was the eight at the end of the day. Despite two eights coming down the course their cox thought the appropriate line was 90 degrees to the bank! Fortunately, he managed to just get out of the way – just as well it wasn’t a close race as the losing crew had to switch lanes. The idiot then, despite being told to keep in, let his stern drift out again, right in front of the next race. His excuse – he didn’t expect there to be any races on the course….

Results and Photos

Results on line at the Cambridge 99 website

Photos on line at the MKRC photo site, including some extra ones from Barry Rivett

Cambridge Sprint Regatta 2009

May 12, 2009

After being on coxing duty yesterday at Bedford, it was Steve and my turn to race today. Second visit to Cambridge, and an opportunity to get a check on progress from our first race together at last year’s regatta.

As we were the only crew with competition (the Vet C Quad and Novice Double had to be scratched – thanks ARA, new rules really helping out) we car topped the double rather than trailering. Great fun sticking this great long black boat on top of a Vectra.

Anyhow, I digress. Although we’d had some good starts and lengths in training yesterday, it all went to pot in the race. A poor-ish start left us frantically trying to catch up, which is pretty hard going over 400m. We took time to settle but in the latter half of the race finally got it together and then started pulling back the deficit. Unfortunately, a case of leaving it too late and we lost to the Cantabs/Nemesis Vet D composite double by 1 1/2 lengths.

Taking some comfort from this (my optimistic streak showing through) it was a lot better row than last year. Just need to sort out my starts and we’ll be there!

Definitely an event to make a bigger effort at next year. Lots of mixed events, which don’t attract points for winning, plenty of novice crews as well, so a good “fun” event and a great first race for new members. A nice location, and such fun to watch some of the mayhem at the start!

Results are available here.

Photos now on-line at

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!

Cambridge Autumn Regatta

September 8, 2008

I guess yesterday’s regatta over at Cambridge can best be described as “eventful”!

The day started badly. I was reversing into the boat compound to hitch up the trailer when there was a load “bang” and hissing. A quick inspection confirmed the worst – one of the bits of tubing that the gate bolts lock into had neatly punched a hole through the sidewall of my front off-side tyre.  After unloading the boot, we changed the wheel (small rant here about why do car manufacturers insist on putting these stupid space savers in – the main road wheel fits into the same place so it isn’t a space saver – more a cost saver I suspect), re-packed, hitched up and got away about half an hour late.

Stopped off at Star Club to pick up a couple of their boats and then headed off to Fen Ditton. As we arrived a bit late, it looked like all available space on the trailer park had gone. Anyhow, I got out and wandered around and found that there was huge areas of space left up nearer the marquee – second rant, why do people who arrive first not move up as far as they can? So, we parked up and started unloading and rigging boats.

The first race off was Kieran and John as a J16 2x. Despite an excursion (or two) into the bankthey pushed hard and were unlucky not to take the win. Next up was my first trip down the river, coxing the Men’s S4 4+. This was a hard looking tie against Broxbourne and so it proved. They took us off the start (how often have I written that line?) but the guys really pushed hard and gradually reeled them in before the second push got our noses in front, where we stayed. Not sure of the margin but it looked like between a half and a full length – a really good result.

Next up were the Elliot twins, rowing as singles for the first time. Both put in superb performances, not surprisingly losing their first ever singles races but both pushed their opponents hard (and stayed upright – more than many did during the day). Jordan did especially well, losing by just a canvas. This shows real potential for next season.

Following the junior girls came the junior boys, Kieran and John again in singles. Again, both lost but to some very high grade opposition.

By this time the weather was starting to deteriorate and the grey clouds were gathering. Like a fool I thought it would pass and didn’t bother with my waterproof for when I coxed the next race, the Women’s S4 4+. The rain started just as we got down to the marshalling area. It then got heavier. And heavier, And heavier. This was compounded by having to wait for a cabin cruiser to dawdle up the river and then wait for the consequent traffic jam to clear. All in all, we sat in the torrential downpour for around half an hour. Even trying to shelter under the bridge was a big mistake – being a rail bridge it isn’t solid and just concentrates the rain into bigger drops! By the time we got to the start, water was actually sloshing around in the boat and I’d put on significant weight by having a drenched hoodie.

The race was against Cambridge 99 (the eventual winners) and was a pretty tough one. Again, beaten off the start (this was particularly unpleasant for the cox – as we pushed off the stake boat, the water surged back and I wound up sitting in an inch deep puddle of water) we held on to them all the way down and did pull back a little in one push but that early lead was the difference between the crews.

Our next crew was the twins, this time together in a double. Again, they lost but again a really strong performance, pushing their opponents all the way to the line. This was the last junior crew out but very pleasing to see the number and quality of the crews. This is starting to get MKRC Juniors noticed on the race circuit as well, a good development for the club.

Having dried out (a bit, anyway) it was time for a soggy cox to get back in the boat, this time for the Men’s second round, against Cantabs. A better (more relaxed guys!) start saw us pretty well level with them, they matched our first push but the second one by our crew was decisive, opening up a length’s lead. We then pushed away from them and ran out comfortable winners – next to the final, not bad for a crew of three novices, with only Will having any points.

Finally, having coxed three times and got half drowned in the rain, it was my turn to actually race!!!! A real first this one as it was a new crew (Mixed S4) and the first time I’d stroked a boat in a race. The race was a mixed bag – when we got it together it was very powerful and we could feel the boat surge but our lack of practice showed too often, with each of us catching a crab at some point. Still, it was (kind of) fun despite losing by a good couple of lengths. Thanks to Clarissa, who’d come along just to watch but wound up coxing us.

We then had a couple of hours to kill to the next race, the eagerly awaited final for the Men’s crew. By now the wather had brightened up considerably and it was a quite nice, warm and sunny day. However, come time to boat, the clouds gathered again and I was anticipating another thorough drenching. Worse was to come though; as the guys carried the boat down to the boating area there was a tremendous flash of lightning, followed rapidly by a deafening clap of thunder. Within minutes the rain came and made the morning’s fall look like a light shower.

By now, most competitors, officials and spectators were huddled in the marquee, with the last few crews who’d already got to the start coming back as fast as possible. We waited for the storm to pass, but every time that the organisers attempted to get crews back on the water, there was almost immediately another lightning flash and the rain intensified. Finally, after around half an hour of this, with no sign of it clearing, the organisers came to the inevitable conclusion that there was not enough time to finish racing before dark, even if the storm blew over. All credit to the Cambridge 99 Chairman who braved the storm and the crowd to come into the marquee to break the horrible news that the regatta had to be abandoned.

A very frustrating decision but absolutely the right one.

A real pity for the Men’s crew this, as they missed the chance of their final and the tantalisingly close chance to pot and get points – for three of them de-novicing into the bargain. Also a pain for Steve and Pierre who’d turned up for the S3 4x only to find the race cancelled. We were really looking forward to this one as it would have been a replay of our win earlier in the season against Rob Roy.

A quick pack up was then followed by the fun of getting off the field. By now this was a mudbath and I really didn’t think I’d make it with my poor Saab – especially with a skinny space saver on the front! However, with some willing manpower pushing as well, we slipped and slid our way out. I’m not sure how some of the other clubs would have fared as I’d managed to churn up the field pretty well on the way out.

All in all, a pretty good day albeit with a frustrating end, especially for the Men’s crew. Still they know now what they can do and sets them up for next season.

By the way – I managed to leave my camera behind (not that I had much time for taking photos though) so if anyone has any shots from the day that they don’t mind sharing, can they let me have them? I’ll then post them on the MKRC Photo Site. Thanks

Now to the Head Season – shudder…..

Cambridge Head2Head/Regatta

May 12, 2008

Our first time out at this event saw a couple of wins and some very interesting racing in the Regatta. It was a long, long day, leaving the club house at 6:00 a.m. to get to Cambridge in time to boat for Division 1 at 8:30. The first crew off was the Women’s S3 8+ crew in the Head2Head – a mere 2.6km paddle down the Cam. Trouble is, you then turn round and do it again in reverse. Some of those corners are seriously wicked as well. The next crew out was the coxless quad; this started out as a Vet B crew but as one of us had to drop out we shifted to a S3 4x and added our nominal vet male (actually, a 17 year old female…). Still, it worked as we posted the fastest time for a quad!!! OK, we were the ONLY quad, but it still sounds good.

On to the regatta in the afternoon. We had a prime view, boating from Pembroke College BC (courtesy of knowing the VC!), of the sheer mayhem at the start. Side by side racing here is not for the faint hearted, with the first half dozen races resulting in as many clashes, with large numbers of enforced crabs. Still, great fun if you were watching.

Our first crew in the regatta was the Women’s Novice 4, who won their first round against CCRC. Having watched previous races, our ladies were ready when the inevitable happened and the two crews clashed blades almost straight off the start. They held on well and were sure of the win when CCRC crabbed near the end. This race and the exertions of the Head2Head caught up with them in the final, when they lost out to Cambridge 99’s.

Next up were the S3 Quad – thanks to the Rob Roy crew who agreed to the status change from Vet. This was a really hard race but our crew finally ran out winners by 1/3 length. Not bad for a crew that hadn’t rowed together before and had one crewman in his first ever sculling race.

Last crew of the day were Steve and I as Men’s Vet C 2x. Not a good race, with me losing count of the number of crabs and fluffed strokes over the 400m course.

It was certainly an interesting, event packed day. First off, I’d told Graham the wrong time to meet at the club house, so he had to drive over, having got to a deserted club house an hour after we’d gone. Then Terri and Charlene arrived late, having waited for the trailer (which was in front of them). Next drama was putting the eight in the river, when Karen noticed a rather large amount of water coming in through the join – those wing nuts seemed like a good idea at the time, but you can’t tighten them enough.

Later on, when going to rig the four, we found we’d remembered the boats and blades, but there was a marked shortage of riggers. Real thanks to Champions of the Thames for loaning us a boat, allowing the girls to race (cueing great celebrations from Charlene when she found it was stroke rigged instead of our usual bow rigging, meaning she didn’t need to stroke).

We even made the local press as well in the LBO
and the MK Citizen