East Midlands Regatta 2011

June 14, 2011

This event was a bit of a “voyage into the unknown”. Taking advantage of it being at Holme Pierrepont the day before British Masters, we decided it was worth a try. I think it was also the first East Midlands event, hosted by Derby, Loughborough, Nottingham and Newark, and it meant racing against clubs that we don’t normally encounter.

As it happens this was a really good decision! Not only was it a really nice event but we took four wins setting us up nicely for the next day and continuing a superb winning run for the club.

After the utter confusion caused by our deluge of wins last week-end with the attendant status changes, together with the event organisers shuffling events and boats to maximise the number of entries, we played a kind of “guess who” game. I arrived thinking I was in two events, the normal double and a mixed quad (more of that later). I was then a bit surprised when Iain arrived, as I fully expected him the following day for our Masters C 4+ but not today. Trying delicately to broach the subject of “aren’t you a day early?” I discovered we were racing the 4+ today as well!!! A similar double take happened with Paula when Karen arrived – Paula then found she was not in the one race she expected but three. All good fun and, to me anyway, showing the club cohesion and “can do” attitude, we just got on with it.

After an unfortunate delay to the regatta start, while they rearranged the lanes (some were really wide while others were rather narrow!) we got underway; despite some grim weather forecasts during the week, it was bright and sunny with a moderate breeze blowing; pretty much as good as it gets at Nottingham!

IM3 1x
Not one but two singles out in this event, with John joining us from Row Caldecotte and Pierre-Yves making his first outing in a single outside our regatta. Pierre-Yves’ plans were thrown a bit into disarray as the car with the riggers for his boat arrived late (someone – and it would be cruel to say who… – overslept) but he blagged a nice Wintech from Nottingham. John was first out and cruised to second place to book a spot in the repêchage. Pierre-Yves followed suit and also made the rep.

Unfortunately, there was some confusion over the timing of events following the delayed start and somehow both of them missed their start times for their races; a pity as this lost them the chance of a second race in their singles and a pop at the final. Still, they both had other events later in the day.

Mixed IM3 4x-
This boat started out as a bit of fun, with the two couples (Paula and I, Steve and Clare) deciding to have a go. We’d had extensive (by MKRC standards) training (two outings) and these had gone really well, so we were hopeful of getting a good scull. We were entered at IM3 as no Masters event was available and were sitting by the start watching for our opposition, hoping it would be a similar kind of age. Various boats came up – masters, another masters, another masters and then up rocks a mixed quad of scary looking (i.e huge and young) kids. Yep, this was our opposition.

We got attached (how DOES Steve do it – a brisk cross-wind and nails it onto the stake boat first time every time) and waited for the off. After a really good, clean and powerful start where we kept with the Nottingham boat, they soon started pulling away and left us trailing in, ultimately by a good couple of lengths. Despite this, we all felt it had gone really well and started thinking about entering this more regularly, where we can find Masters opposition. I hate kids…

IM3 4x-
A completely new line up for an IM3 quad, with John stroking, Tim and Benn providing the grunt and Pierre-Yves steering. Racing against two Nottingham and Union crews and one from Newark, this was a closely fought affair. After a really hard race, the Newark crew ran out winners, with us in second and the two N&U boats bringing up the rear, some distance down.

IM3 4+
Mainly to get some race practice ahead of the National Masters tomorrow, we put in the Masters C four, albeit racing at IM3 level. We’d never raced this combination (Steve stroking, Iain, Pierre-Yves and I, coxed by Paula) before, so had no real idea of how we’d fare.

Lining up at the start, we were against three other boats; a Leicester Uni crew, and club boats from Loughborough and Trafford (spot the difference – their kit is identical to ours!). After a slight disagreement with one of the crews at the start as they tried to remove our bows, we settled and were ready. On “attention… go” we pulled quite violently to bow side and this put us a length down on the other boats straight away. Picking it up from here, we fairly quickly overhauled the Trafford boat and set about chasing Loughborough – the Leicester Uni kids had long since gone. Although all four boats would progress, the first two would go straight to the final and the second two to the rep, so we really wanted second spot.

Inch by inch, we clawed back on Loughborough, gradually reeling them in and then, as we hit the 250m to go marker, pulled level. Paula called a big push and this surged us past them and we gently pulled away taking second spot by a length or so. A very pleasing race, especially given the start.

So to the final. Here we lined up against not one but two Leicester Uni crews together with another Trafford boat. A similar start to the heat put us another length down and chasing. This time, we chased down the second Leicester Uni crew and passed them but the other two finished well clear.

However, given how few races we’ve had together (and how few Iain has had period) we were really pleased with this one, finishing third in a pretty high calibre field wasn’t too shabby at all.

W.IM3 4+
With Sam from the Henley crew unavailable, Jo sat in for her, together with Andi, Ash and Lindy. A lack of water time together didn’t help their cause and they finished second to Newark (probably the boat that won at Peterborough last week?) but well ahead of Derby and Leicester Uni.

IM3 2x-
Tim and Benn were next up, this time racing as a double, racing against Nottingham and Leicester. Given that this was only their second outing (they tried their first start on the way up to the start!) they weren’t sure what to expect. Despite this, from a good start, they pushed into an early lead and were a length up by the halfway point. From there, they eased away a little more, landing our first win by four seconds over the Nottingham crew. Not bad for a second outing.

Mas D 2x-
This event pitted Steve and I in a straight final against Lincoln. Straight from the off, we pushed into a lead and were able to extend this through the first 500m, to the point where we were able to sit on them quite comfortably. Despite hitting a massive sqall that near on stopped us in our tracks, we seemed to cope with the conditions in the second half much better and pulled away for our second win of the day. Personally, this was a real fillip after the misery at Peterborough last week.

W.Nov 4x-
Mixing it up from the Ladies Masters quad of last week, this was a really scratch crew. With Paula stroking, Alice and Karen in the middle and Clare steering at bow, they had a straight final against Nottingham. The lack of practice together certainly didn’t show – easing into a slight lead from the start, they pushed away slowly but surely to a length clear by the halfway point. Despite some really hard battling from Nottingham, the girls dug in and held off their challenge, to finish a length clear for our third win, de-novicing into the bargain.

IM1 2-
By now we, were really buzzing as the last three MKRC boats had all won. Tim and Benn swapped sculls for sweep and set out (at IM1 level!) against Derby. This proved to be a fairly comfortable race, as the two finished off their day with our fourth and final win.

Evening
Most of us who were racing at National Masters the following day had opted to camp over. We set up a little circle of tents on the camp site and settled in for another great evening. Gathered round the barbie, sharing a few beers (not too many in view of tomorrow – but there were pots to christen) and chatting, it made for another really great end to another brilliant day’s racing.

Overview
I really liked this one. Not only was it (another) good day for the club but it was just nice. There were some really good touches, such as ensuring anyone in an event with heats got at least two rows (going either to the final or to a repêchage) and the presenting of pots while in the boat. First time I’ve had this and it made it feel really special.

The whole atmosphere was chilled and especially the umpires – never had such polite, friendly and chatty people controlling a regatta. Holding it at a major facility and having (for Nottingham) pretty good weather obviously helped but I do hope they do the same next year. This was a great warm up event for the Masters the following day.

My favourite comment of the day came from one of the Duke of Edinburgh volunteers (they were really great by the way) – it was along the lines of “I’ve learnt the colours for Leicester and Milton Keynes today – they’re the ones winning everything”! Nice to know we’ve made an impact.

Links
Results can be found here

Benn’s videos can be viewed here

Photos are on-line – click on the picture below

East Midlands Regatta 2011

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.

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Milton Keynes Regatta 2011

May 23, 2011

Don’t know about anyone else but I thoroughly enjoyed the Regatta on Saturday. This was only our second ever Regatta and was slightly bigger than last year’s with three other clubs attending (Bedford RC joining Northampton and Oundle). I’m not going to try and write up every event – partly there were too many and (mainly) I was either marshalling or racing so didn’t see half of them.

So, I’m just going to pick out some of the highlights (for me) of the day and leave it to others to add their own thoughts. That way, maybe we’ll wind up with a full picture!

Unlike last year, held in a dead calm, we had very strong winds and this made for some very challenging conditions, especially at the start.Despite this, we only had a couple of capsizes and no clashes in races, showing a high standard of rowing and sculling by all taking part. I know some crews found the going very tough but everyone battled through. We had some incredibly close races, including a couple where the verdict was one foot! It was good to see the full spectrum of events as well, juniors, seniors and masters, and everything from singles through to eights.

We re-jigged a couple of things from last year, firstly the trailer parking, having the trailers in front of the club house. This proved fortuitous as, having parked three trailers neatly, a fourth then turned up – Oundle having so many boats they needed two trailers! We were able to slot them in where we parked the trailers last year, so no real panic. Got to say how impressed I was with the parking ability of the trailer drivers, just wish I was that good. Assuming we expand next year, we’ll have to really think about this one though.

Second change was to the boating pontoon – we moved this to the left of the slipway and this did help with congestion along the footpath, although it did mean most crews opted to go off here, leading to some delays. Again, one to think about for next year. The circulation pattern worked better, removing the need to have crews crossing the racing line.

Personally, it was an interesting day, staying upright and dry in my first Regatta single scull race (only finished two lengths down, which I was really pleased with), being well and truly thumped in the quad and then finally getting a win at our home event in the double with Steve.

For me, some of the highlights were the Open Eight between Bedford and Northampton, one of the closest races of the day, with Bedford shading it at the finish (by a foot) and the Northampton against NSB quad, again a foot in it (with NSB emerging as winners). It was nice to see the pots and medals being spread around as well, no one club dominating things, although our ladies seemed to be putting in strong showings all round. Special mentions for Paula and Lou – first time ever in a double and (despite a scenic route) winning their straight final and to the two beginners crews, who put up a serious fight with only half a length in it, credit to the coaches from both Bedford and MK for getting beginners to this standard!

Starts were very difficult and all credit to the Sea Cadets, who did a tremendous job hanging on to the sterns of boats against strong winds, waves and rowers trying to keep on station. Their arms must seriously ache today (and be a couple of inches longer). As an illustration of just how hard this was, one boat managed to dislodge one of the stake boats, casting it adrift (quickly rescued by the safety launch) and another managed to get wedged between the stake boat and the bank, being battered by cross-waves.

The wind also made it deceptively cool and there’s a lot of people (me included) nursing some serious sunburn as a result.It was a long and tiring day but thoroughly enjoyable and showed again that we can run a good event. Now for planning next year…

If you were there, do let me know your thoughts and memories!


Bedford Amateur Regatta 2011

May 16, 2011

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.

IM3 4+
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.

IM2 4+
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.

My views
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!

Results for the day are available at the


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!!!!


Leicester Regatta 2011

April 18, 2011

Nice to get a winning start to the Regatta season, with two wins at Leicester. We had a good day’s racing, held on the Grand Union Canal through the centre of Leicester, in early Spring sunshine. The highlight was Been and Gwen proving the potential they had shown in the Head races at Bedford by winning the Novice double, de-novicing as a result!

Women’s Novice 4x+
This was a scratch crew thrown together for this event and sculling in the Junior’s boat, so we didn’t really know what to expect. After a frantic start, we were holding the Newark crew but an unfortunate crab gave the opposition three lengths lead. Strangely, this seemed to settle the ladies who then set into a more controlled race and clawed back on Newark at a real rate, to finish under half a length down at the line – another 100m and we’d have rowed through them. After the poor start, a very good race by a novice crew (Paula, Helen J, Sam and Alice) not helped by a lightweight boat – the stern was almost under the water!

Women’s IM3 2x-
Paula hopped straight out of the Quad into a double, for her first race in anything less than a four. This was a nice Mother and Daughter combination, with Jo steering the boat. As a first race together and after just a couple of practice sessions, they sculled really well but were beaten in their first race.

IM3 2x-
Tim and I ventured out of Masters races for this one (no Masters B event available) so, with me giving away more years than I want to think about, weren’t sure how this would go. This was also our first race together since winning at Dorney 18 months ago! From the start, our opponents from Lincoln pulled away and were a length up but we dug in and started pulling back on them. We’d got an overlap when they ran into the reeds at the side of the canal and slewed round, coming to a stop. This allowed us to take it down and paddle thorough to the finish to get through to the final. In the final we were against another Lincoln crew but this time they simply blew us away and stormed down the course, winning easily. Still, a nice couple of rows and encouraging that we did win the first race.

Mixed IM2 4+
A straight final against Lincoln for this scratch boat, of Tim, Benn, Sam and Andi. Looking very good on he row down, they powered away from their opposition and, despite a couple of hard pushes from Lincoln, kept in front from start to finish, take the win. Galling for Ash, who’d had to pull out through illness, but a first Regatta pot for Sam

Novice 2x-
A day full of drama for Benn and Gwen! Their first round opponents had scratched, leaving them with a row over. In their second race, they were up against a Derby crew; after a very fast start, Benn and Gwen then piled on the pressure and pulled away down the course for a comfortable win.

So, to the final, which pitted them against a Loughborough pair. At the start, Benn was having some problems as the Start Marshall was continually getting him to adjust (the problem with a free start) and as a result, was slightly off line at the “go”. This led them to move across slightly, the Loughborough boat moved away from them, clipped the bank and spun round. Benn and Gwen then had an easy paddle down to the finish, to take the win comfortably, although the other crew gave chase.

At the boating pontoon, Tim had a surprise for them – a bucket of (fortunately clean) water to celebrate their de-novicing. While they were standing there dripping wet, the Chief Umpire came over with another, far more unpleasant surprise. The start marshal had decided that our guys had caused Loughborough to crash by going into their water and had disqualified them!

He did then go on to say that he had suggested to Loughborough that, as this was a final (and a Novice event), would they consider a re-row rather than winning by default. Very sportingly, the Loughborough crew agreed. So, still dripping wet, Benn and Gwen stepped back into the boat and went down to the start to run the race again.

With no drama at the start this time, our guys grabbed the lead and pushed away steadily, to be a length clear after 200m. They held this despite a really hard push from their opponents and then pushed away further to finish a couple of lengths clear to celebrate a first win.

My views
First time we’ve been to Leicester as a club and I can see this becoming a regular. It’s nice to get a Regatta this early in the season (although a serious shock to the system!) and good to be up against different clubs. The location is great and makes for some really good spectating, although it was surprising how few close races there were. The finish is interesting as well – it’s a case of over the line and hold it up, as there are often boats turning into the offcut where the boating area is.

The batch system worked well, something we’ll have to think about for our Regatta, and the whole event ran to time. Although not quite the “buzz” from other regattas, we all really enjoyed the day, especially with Gwen and Benn delivering on the promise they’ve shown through the Head season.

Can’t finish without a mention for Byron. We’d seen him race in the DMU Mixed eight and thought he looked a bit wet, but just assumed he’d got splashed during the race. The truth was far better; they’d done a racing start on the way down to the start area and he’d caught a massive crab. This had, in his own works, flicked him clean out of the boat! His bedraggled appearance was actually the results of an unplanned swim in the canal. Tragically, none of us saw this and, despite all the cameras along the tow-path, it seems there are no photos or videos either.


Bedford Small Boats Head 2011

April 12, 2011

Today’s Bedford SBH was a brilliant end to the Head season, held in scorching April sunshine and run superbly. A really good day out, topped off by two wins for MKRC. The day was dominated by an extremely strong City of Oxford contingent, who cleaned up pretty much every event they entered, so our performances were really up against it.

A club visit to Nando’s in the evening really topped off a great day, also allowing us to celebrate the wins.

Master’s C/D 4x-
With Pierre-Yves away on business, Tim swapped in for him at stroke, with Steve, Simon and I in our normal line-up. Setting off as race number 2 (an unusual experience for us, being this high up the field) behind a St. Ives IM3 quad, we found a pretty good rhythm from the off. Conscious of a City of Oxford Women’s Elite four behind us, this gave us the incentive to keep pushing and we completed the course in 7:23, to place us fourth of six but only 22 seconds off the winner. A pleasing result given the change to our normal crew and lack of practice in this combination

Women’s IM2 4+
We entered no less than three crews in the IM2 coxed fours; being pitched against an extremely fast City of Oxford boat, we managed to place 2nd, 3rd and 4th out of the five crews. A mere ten seconds covered the three crews, just a single second separating 2nd and 3rd. Our top crew was some 37 seconds adrift of COX, giving some idea of what everyone was up against!

Novice 2x-
Benn and Gwen in another outing in their Novice double. Showing increasing confidence, they took twenty-one seconds off their run at Star Head, despite a couple of “close encounters” on the way. Putting down more power kind of upset the steering and resulted in a strong attraction towards the bank. That their finishing time was only sixteen seconds off the winners (placing them fifth of seven) even though they didn’t have the best of races is an indication of good things to come from this pair.

Women’s IM2 2x-
A very good performance from Liz and Andi saw them place second in this category (inevitably behind a COX double!). They were so quick, they took the fastest MKRC double time of the day (8:14), even though it looked like someone had been hacked to death in the boat at the end (sculler’s scratches on Andi’s hands, small wounds but boy, do they bleed!).

Mixed Novice 2x-
Managing to avoid any “domestics”, Tom and Lindy ran an excellent race, taking first place in the Mixed doubles. Very fortunately, Lindy found out that her gate wasn’t done up properly on the row down to the start, rather than during the race… the result (and their dryness) would have been a lot different if it had happened halfway down the course at race speed!

Mixed IM3 4x-
The mixed quad completely blew away their opposition from Lincoln, winning comfortably with the fastest MKRC time of the day (7:15), some 30 seconds clear. A nice first MKRC pot for Benn, sculling with Tim, Andi and Liz.

Masters D/E 2x-
Steve and I out in our double, but whether it was the heat, the earlier race in the quad or just being a bit out of sorts, we were well off the pace, coming third of four but a whopping 52 seconds behind the winners. After a couple of really good training sessions during the week, the balance and power just didn’t seem to be there, and the time shows this.

Women’s Masters B/C 2x-
First time out as a crew for Clare and Lou, so their main objective was to finish upright without hitting anything, which they achieved nicely. Not surprisingly, last of the three crews but a good first race together.

Women’s IM3 4+
Showing there is no rhyme nor reason in the categories, the ladies IM3 boat posted a faster time than all of the IM2 crews! With Oxford taking the first four places, our ladies finished seventh of ten but with a good time compared to the non-Oxford boats (who were in a different league).

Women’s IM3 2x-
A combination of lack of practice (in Jo’s case, a lack of any kind of rowing) and a strong field saw Jo and Lindy well off the pace in their double, trailing in last in a field of six.

My views…
Yet another great event at Bedford, well organised and friendly and in the inevitable brilliant weather (just how do they do this – do they sacrifice a junior sculler on the evening before or something?). I’m struggling to remember an event where every division started early! Obviously helped by the weather bringing out the best in everyone and with all crews co-operating, it ran like clockwork.

Apparently though, the entry was well down on previous years – I guess this is a combination of factors, including cost and an unfortunate clash with Abingdon Head on the same day. We’d normally attend both but were unable to do so; it appears Abingdon asked to move their event forward two weeks to avoid this but a club with an event on the same day blocked this, despite being in a different region and with no obvious overlap.

So, a fond (?) farewell to the “joys” of the Head season and into Regatta season. It all starts next week, see you at Leicester, first time we’ll have been to this event!

Results
Another of the joys of Bedford is the speed with which results are published – we were in the Bedford Club House at the end of the day and the final results were on their computer before the crews from the last division had got back. That is just so impressive!

They were inevitably on-line before we got home and they can be found here.


Bedford Fours and Eights Head 2011

February 15, 2011

Continuing our recent run of form, this year’s Bedford Fours and Eights Head saw us take home three wins from the seven boats entered, a very good return. The other crews posted good times against stiff opposition, largely from the college and school crews who were out in strength. The event itself seems to go from strength to strength and attracted a record entry this year – the downside to this was, as we were a bit later in submitting entries, we wound up being there from Division 1 to Division 7. Still, this meant we were still around to pick up pots!

IM3 8+
Second outing for the Men’s Eight this year, with Gwen swapping in for Steve (compared to Northampton). Although a bit rough in parts, there were patches where we got the boat running well and there’s obviously real power in there. Helped by not having my seat collapse, we put out a time of 7:11 to put us level with Bedford RC with only Broxbourne beating us in the club crews.

Women’s Masters C 4+
Third win in a row for the Ladies, with Paula, Lou, Karen and Clare (coxed by Steve) putting down a time of 8:29, over half a minute ahead of their rivals from Bedford RC.

Women’s IM3 4-
A good, fast race by Andi, Ash, Liz and Sam saw them across the line in 7:50, some 43 seconds clear of their competition, from Exeter Uni, giving them another win.

IM3 4+
Despite a last minute change of crews, with James suffering a bereavement, the scratch crew of Josh, Nelson, Benn and Gwen (with Liz coxing again) were good enough to finish as the second club crew (well behind a very fast Abingdon boat), beating off two Star Club boats, in a time of 7:45

Masters C 4x-
Our usual crew of Pierre-Yves, Simon, me and Steve actually posted the fastest Masters Quad time of the day, at 7:23, but lost out on handicapping to Masters D boats from Star Club and Oundle, by 4 and 5 seconds respectively.

Mixed IM3 4x-
What started out as a “fun” entry turned into a very respectable boat, not only winning the category but setting the fastest MK time of the day. Also a first marital double for Andi and Tim, with Josh and Liz (rowing for a change!) completing the crew.

Women’s IM3 4+
The second race of the day for the Masters Ladies showed remarkable consistency, at just three seconds slower than their first run in the Masters event. This was enough to place them fourth of seven in a strong field, a very good performance by Paula, Lou, Karen and Clare (Steve coxing them a second time)

My views…
Unusually for Bedford, the weather wasn’t perfect (maybe the sacrifices weren’t up to standard?) but despite this another thoroughly enjoyable day’s racing. I do love the way they keep to time, chivvying crews along and taking no nonsense but always good naturedly. Being there all day did make it a long day (watching the crews for the last division trying to get motivated after an hour in the club house was quite amusing) but did allow us to be there to collect the well earned pots.

Must put in a special mention here for Liz – not only did she win two pots but spent the rest of the day coxing. In particular, the way she spun our eight at the start was simply jaw dropping – there can’t have been more than three feet spare at either end as she manoeuvred the boat, spinning it on the spot. Sheer class, totally impressed.

Also thanks to the wonderful lady at Bedford RC, who’s birthday it was, who kindly fed the gannets from MK the food left from her party. It was hugely appreciated.

Finally, octuples… I know they have to learn and take part in races but I do feel there should be a restriction on putting little kids in charge of little kids. Clearly, some of the crews were barely capable of sculling and having a young child attempting to steer them is an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately, we only caught one of them just by the butterfly bridge but even so, Steve was working overtime to avoid them as they zigzagged along the course. I do feel for the fastest fours who must have had to negotiate their way between them. Would it be possible/desirable to insist on a minimum age for coxes for junior boats to give some degree of control? Also, is it worth starting these boats at the back of the division, to remove any chance of interfering with faster adult crews following them?

As ever, the results were through in amazingly quick time and can be found here.

My photos are also on-line, these can be seen here