Not quite as successful as in recent years, this year’s Northampton Head saw us come away with just two wins. These were for the Women’s IM3 4+ boat and a Mixed IM3 2x- crew. The relative lack of wins was, I think, down to a combination of a higher standard of competition (both quantity and quality) and a smaller MKRC entry than usual.Some interesting combinations entered and nice to get a Men’s Eight out again.
W.Mas C 4+
Going for time only (no competition at this category), the four of Paula, Lou, Karen and Clare, coxed by Liz, posted a good time of 7:33 to put down a marker for their “real” race later in the day.
Mas B/C 2x-
Pierre-Yves and Tim racing together again, first time out in a double for some time. Their opposition took a big lump out of them off the start but the guys then managed to hold them for the rest of the course. Considering their opponents include a Nat Masters winner, a creditable performance.
W. IM3 2x-
A new combination saw Jo and Andi racing (possibly rowing?) a double for the first time. Given lack of practise together (and Jo not having been in a boat at all for months) their stated aim was to finish the right way up and the right way round! They did this easily and actually pulled away from the crew chasing them.
Mas. D 2x-
Steve and I knew this was going to be a tough race, being drawn as a sandwich between Abingdon and Nemesis, both of whom have beaten us by some distance in the past. Nemesis put in a very strong and quick start, pulling back probably a couple of lengths in the first 200m but a detour into the bank dropped them back again. We were really pleased as we then sat on them all the way down the course, even pulling away a bit in the closing stages. Ultimately we were 2 seconds slower than them (and a further 5 seconds off of Abingdon) but this is much closed than we’ve ever been before, so real progress.
Mas. B 8+
Really nice to be able to put out a men’s eight again. Originally planned as an IM3 boat, the lack of competition in this category led to a quick rejig (jettisoning Josh as he’s too young) and entry as Master’s B. More of a practise run than a race, we’d not rowed in this combination before and certainly Steve, Pierre-Yves and I found it odd having just one blade. Despite this, we settled fairly quickly and were beginning to move the boat well. I’d noticed that my seat was making more creaking noises than usual and after about 500m it started sticking intermittently; then with about 500m to go it jammed completely throwing me backwards off the seat on the drive. I finished the race sitting at backstops, my seat in front of me, rowing arms only. As we got out, the reason for the problem became clear as one of the seat runner wheels was laying on the decking… Still, up to my malfunction it had been going really nicely.
W. IM3 4+
Paula, Lou, Karen and Clare back out again (with Liz doing the coxing honours again) this time in their serious piece. They were up against two other Oundle Town boats and put in a faster time (by 2 seconds) on this run. This was enough to see them clear, to win the category
Mxd. IM3 2x-
Another new combination saw Josh and Andi doubling for the first time. As we had the only two boats in this category, we were guaranteed a win, so it was down to inter-club rivalry. Although they have limited racing experience in sculls, the two of them looked strong and would be a good bet in Novice (they were rowing up as no competition at Novice).
Mst C 4x-
Our usual boat out again, racing against Abingdon and Canterbury Pilgrims. We seemed to take a while to settle (could be the lack of water time over the past two months?) but did finally find our rhythm. The exertions for Steve, Pierre-Yves and I over two previous races showed towards the end though and we weren’t really able to push hard in the finishing straight.
A scratch crew of James, Benn, Nelson and Josh (yet again coxed by the admirable Liz) really gelled and put in a very strong row, managing to keep our quad at bay for the entire course. Again rowing up a level against school crews, they were unlikely to win the event but this boat looks like it could be very competitive over this year.
Mxd. IM3 2x-
Our second crew in this category saw Tim and Jo sculling together in yet another new combination. Their greater expertise paid off and they beat Josh and Andi by around seven seconds (despite heckling from the bank during the race – Andi helpfully shouting to them that they were going the wrong way).
Despite the bitterly cold temperatures and biting wind, another great day at Northampton Head. Maybe not as successful as other years but some good performances and nice to get a Men’s Eight out again. Definitely seemed to be more crews and a higher standard this year, wonder if the bad weather has meant more people looking to get in an early race? Whatever the reason, good to see Northampton getting more support, which they thoroughly deserve for such a well organised, friendly event. Even the waiting for late boating crews didn’t seem as bad this year.
Must sign off now though as we’ve got to go and wash just about everything we own; that bright yellow sandy mud from the car park gets everywhere and into everything!