A slightly odd feeling, as we came away from Nottingham with no wins – this just shows how our expectations as a club have shifted. Being realistic though, we were stepping up a league here and banging heads with some serious competition, so the results were actually pretty damned good. We put in some very fine performances and certainly made a few people take notice of Milton Keynes Rowing Club!
Held in typical Holme Pieerepont weather, that is grey, breezy and very cold
This was the first multi-lane event, first 2k race and first time at Holme Pierrepont for both Chris and Antonio, with Rob M and Nelson having only a little more experience. Considering we lined up against one university and three school crews, with just the first two crews qualifying for the final, this was going to be tough. Very tough.
Throw in to the mix, the stress of trying to collect numbers (one person handing out numbers for dozens of entries) making us a bit late and nearly getting swamped on the row up (this was a recurring theme all week-end, “safety” launches creating massive wakes) and it was with a degree of nerves that we lined up on the start.
On the “attention” call, the guys all came forward and set themselves. Then, on the “beep”, nothing! They’d never had a race start off of a beep, so needed a sharp shout from me of “go!” to get moving. As ever, a less than perfect start saw us dropped down behind the other four crews. However, a fast first 500m saw us ease ahead of Oundle School next to us and catch up on De Montfort University out in lane 6.
Belying their relative inexperience, the guys settled well and kept up the pressure on DMU, rowing through them and hunting down Norwich School. At the 1500m mark, we had pulled well clear of the two crews behind us and reduced the gap to Norwich to around a length. Over the last sprint, Norwich then really went for it, pulling away from us and closing up on St Edwards School, but not enough to catch them, leaving St Edwards as the winners, Norwich in second and us in a very creditable third place.
Not a bad result at all, especially from Antonio, who’d never raced this far (he was heard to say he was glad we didn’t have to do that again!), especially against a school and uni boats.
To get more race time and practice together, the coxless four (Mike, Benn, Tim and Josh) entered into both the Senior and IM1 events. Obviously, rowing up a level at Senior was a big challenge and so it proved in the race.
Despite a good row, the other crews pulled away as was to be expected, and our guys finished in tail end place but, encouragingly, not that far off the pace.
Not quite sure what happened to the draw on this race, as the ladies found themselves at the start alongside Agecroft (expected) and Durham School (not even on the draw!) but nobody else (expected two more crews)!
A good start saw the ladies push clear of Durham School but fall behind Agecroft at the first 500m. They were then able to settle and maintain nearly a length over Durham over the next 500m, although Agecroft were pulling away steadily. The lack of 2k races and practices then told as Durham gradually ate into their lead and inched past them, to be fractionally up by 1500m. Despite Paula calling a couple of massive pushes over the last 500, Durham consolidated and then extended their lead, leaving Charlene, Alice, Lindy and Helen to finish third, which wasn’t enough to progress to the final.
A tremendous battle for second, third and fourth positions in this race (Norwich leading comfortably throughout) saw Liz and Andi just miss out in the last few metres. With a mere 1.1 seconds covering MAA, Lea and MK, this could have gone any way but (according to the finish marshal) our pair lost it on the final stroke.
Another good performance though, in a class field.
This was the coxless four’s second race of the day, dropping down from the Senior category to IM1. With Bedford School, Newark and Leeds sprinting off, our boys were left in a hard tussle with Tees. Having pulled away over the first 500m and extended their lead to over 5 seconds at the 1,500m mark, Mike, Benn, Tim and Josh were looking set for fourth place. Unfortunately, this was not to be as they fell away in the last sprint, with Tees edging them out.
A case of split loyalties for me in this race, with wife Paula in the Milton Keynes boat and daughter Jo in the Nottingham University crew!
After another sluggish start, MK were trailing the field at the 500m mark, in contrast to the Nottingham Uni boat that had a blistering start to storm into the lead. Our ladies then pulled back and proceeded to row through Grosvenor over the next 500m, while Nottingham Uni were being hunted down by Lea, with Nottingham City chasing them hard.
As they came to the final sprint, Nottingham Uni and Lea had pulled clear and were going at it hammer and tongs. With the result in doubt virtually to the line, the Uni girls clung on to record the win.
MK were not far off the pace at the end, finishing in fourth, but just 12.5 seconds off of a scorching winning time – Jo saying it’s the hardest race she’s ever had! This again was a really strong performance by the Milton Keynes crew (Helen J, Charlene, Alice, Lou, Karen, Paula, Heidi and Becks, with Andi swapping sculls for a cox box) – especially rowing in the rather heavyweight JC!
A very difficult race to photograph, with all the crews close and trying to get shots of two crews.
Another high quality field saw Helen M and Jenny in their first regatta together. As they are still gelling as a partnership, it wasn’t too surprising that they were a bit off the pace. This was despite putting in maximum effort – evidenced by Jenny coming out with language we really didn’t think she knew when Helen pushed the rate up at 1500m!
Plenty more to come from this combination.
Having established ourselves as a real force locally, this regatta gave us a chance to measure ourselves against top national crews. Despite coming away without a single win, we weren’t outclassed in any event and put in some great performances.
The gulf we’re trying to span was well illustrated in the boat park; our slightly older, tattier Janouseks, Aylings and Sims looked at bit out of place amongst the gleaming new Fillippis, Empachers and Vespolis!
Despite the weather (I’m still thawing out from that bitter northerly wind) it was a good event. I especially like the winners collecting their pots from the pontoon, and appreciate (from a photography point of view) the chilled attitude to allowing access to the finish area. It’s great to have the results posted up on the big board quickly and to get the 500m splits in the results. A special word too for the commentary – knowledgeable and amusing, with the occasional pithy comments thrown in, Nigel Mayglothling excelled himself (even if one of our crews were labeled as “munchkins”!).
My only niggle of the day was the safety boats. All too often they were blasting up the course, causing huge wakes which were bad enough for the crews rowing up but a couple of times actually affected the racing crews coming down the course. This really isn’t on.