St Neots Head 2011

October 16, 2011

With a large proportion of the club doing the Spartan Race, our entries for this year’s St Neots Head were a bit sparse, only four boats entered. Although we picked up a couple of second places, we didn’t post any wins and (unusually) came home empty handed. Still, there were some good races and a very eventful one for the ladies’ quad.

Women Masters C/D 4+
Fourth crew off in the first division, the ladies put in a strong row and set a good time for the competition to aim for. They had one of their competitors from St Neots following them and felt they’d pulled away from them over the 2.6km course and it proved so. They then had to wait all the way through to the last division for their other competitor, another St Neots boat. Unfortunately, this crew (racing as a “D” boat rather than our “C” crew) posted a time some 11 seconds quicker, pushing the ladies into second.

Masters D/E 2x-
After the previous day’s exploits at Wallingford, this actually seemed quite a short race for Steve and I, the halfway point coming up surprisingly quickly! However, our exertions did start telling towards the end and the last section from the marina to the finish was a struggle. However, we were extremely pleased with the result – we finished second but just four seconds behind Nemesis, a crew that has beaten us easily on many occasions. We do seem to have closed the gap quite a bit over the last few races, so pleasing progress.

Masters C/D 4+
A new combination saw Iain and Roger join Steve and I in a coxed four. With Roger’s years offsetting Iain’s relative youth this put us as a “D” crew, up against another “D” from Peterborough and a “C” from St Neots. Despite a good, solid row, we were well off of the winning time, with Peterborough winning the class and St. Neots coming second.

Women’s IM2 4x-
A race that can best be described as “interesting”! After a good start and getting round the twisty bit at the beginning of the course, the ladies were settling into a good rhythm when they were aware of people on the bank shouting “swimmer – get out of the way”. Being a nice, hot day, some numpty decided it would be good to go for a swim in the river – while a race was on. Paula, at stroke, got a huge surprise when a head emerged right by her blade and took a whack from it. He appeared OK and, having done an crash stop, the girls set off again. Next on their target list was a black barge – fortunately the owner shouted a warning and they were able to hold the boat up just in time. Setting off again, they picked up and went really well down past the club house, down the regatta course and turned in to the bend towards the finish. Unfortunately, Clare misjudged the bend and the quad went into the reed bank at race pace, burying the boat in as far as Paula! As we went past in the four, all we could see was Paula and the stern, the rest of the ladies completely hidden in the reeds. They did finally manage to extricate themselves (by grabbing the reed stems and pulling against them – their blades were completely tangled) and get free to finish the course. Not surprisingly, their unplanned excursion cost them a lot of time and they finished last, slowest time of the day. Still, quite an amusing episode and no harm to the boat or the ladies (but hopefully the swimmer had a big headache).

My thoughts…
With the amazing, freak hot weather and a really chilled atmosphere, this was a lovely day, despite no wins. Congratulations to St Neots for the speed with which they posted up the results – our ladies were able to tell the St Neots Masters ladies they had won before they’d even got back to the pontoons to de-boat. With really sensible marshalling, setting big gaps between crews, there were few overtaking problems all day and we certainly were able to just focus on our races and not worry about traffic

Results can be found here.No photos as we were all racing in the same divisions!

St. Neots Regatta 2011

August 10, 2011

This year’s St Neot’s Regatta saw us pick up two wins on both days, continuing our winning run nicely. These came from a variety of sources, again showing the increasing breadth of competitive crews in the club. Our winners in the 1,000m races on Saturday were the new pairing of Tom and Mike, sculling at IM2x- and a ladies Quad of Liz, Andi, Sam and Lindy, racing at IM2 (with Sam de-novicing at sculling). Sunday’s 500m winners were the highly impressive juniors John and Alex, winning the IM3 event (Alex de-novicing at just 16!) and the mixed eight of Benn, Mike, Tim, Tom, Liz, Andi, Lindy and Jo.

With too many races to remember (and me being very busy) this entry won’t have the usual details of every race. Instead, I’ll just pick out some of the outstanding memories of (another) great week-end at St Neots.

Saturday didn’t actually start very auspicially. One of the first boats out was the double of John and Alex, rowing as J18. Their opponents appeared round the corner at the allocated race time, but no sign of them. Several races later, they came into view, but with only John sculling. As they passed us the reason became clear, as Alex was sitting nursing one complete blade and one in two pieces. He’d caught a crab off the start, the blade flicked under the boat and when he tried to free it, it snapped.

Strangely enough, John then had an almost identical problem in his single later in the day. This time though he went for the soft option and simply rolled in to the water. To his great credit, his opponent agreed to a re-row even though this wasn’t required, so well done to him.

Following the theme, John wasn’t to be the last soggy junior of the day – Roisin also got in on the act, this time just before the finish, in full view of the crowd. To her credit, she did exceptionally well to tow her boat clear of the course, well before the next race got to her.

The rest of the racing didn’t produce quite so much drama, although there were some incredibly close races. I had the honour of coxing one of these, the Men’s Novice 4+; after a slow start, our opponents pulled out to pretty much a two length lead around the bend but to their credit, our guys really went for it. A couple of strong pushes seemed to panic the other crew and by the finish line we were (as the commentator kept putting it) bowball—to bowball. We honestly didn’t know who had got it but the verdict finally came that our opponents had taken the win, by a bowball! A bit of work on the starts and this crew won’t be novices for long!

After a good day’s racing, we all retired to the MKRC “village” and set in for a very pleasant evening gathered around the Barbie, with the odd beer or two thrown in.

Sunday saw another day of close, exciting racing but pride of place has to go to John and Alex. Recovering from their broken blade incident yesterday, they cruised through the first two rounds, sculling at IM3 rather than Junior, to set up a final against ??. This they made look easy, pulling away off the start and striding out to a comfortable win.

The Mixed Eight had a relatively easy first round win, putting them into a final against hosts St. Neots. This was a far closer event, although our boat grabbed the lead and held on, St Neots pushed them really hard all the way, finishing just half a length down.

My views
Another wonderful week-end at St Neots. I love the atmosphere and the proximity of the spectators to the racing – and some really close hard races on both days. It was nice to see they’ve taken a more relaxed view on campers and barbies this year and restricting them to the far side of the path is a really smart move too.

I guess the only gripe is that our original entries were seriously cut back, through lack of competition. This meant Lou and Clare not getting any races and Paula just getting the one. Although I understand this is lack of other crews, how about closing entries a few days earlier, notifying the clubs that have had crews rejected and allowing them to rejig and resubmit crews into categories where there is competition? This way, our crews get a race and the host club gets more money – surely a “win-win”?

Bedford Quarts 2011

July 20, 2011

Another good day out at Bedford saw us come away with another three wins. These were nicely spread out with the Men winning the IM3 4x-, the Women the IM2 4+ and the Juniors (making a welcome return) winning the IM3 2x-. Some very close races, both in winning and losing and most crews at least making it through the first round.

J15 2x-
In their first race outside of Milton Keynes, Phillip and Alex acquitted themselves extremely well, winning their first race (against Star Club) with an “easily” verdict. In the next round they faced a strong (and eventual winning) boat from Northampton and lost by a similar verdict.

IM3 2x-
Two of the “Juniors” were out in this category, John and Ryan. After a first round row over, they faced Globe in the semi-final. An assured row saw them win by 3 1/2 lengths to put them into the final against Poplar Blackwall & District. This looked like a tough draw as this crew, although not the most technical, were huge. Indeed, the final turned out to be a really hard race, pretty much neck and neck for much of the course, but John and Ryan’s technique and power paid off and the came through to win by 1/3 length. Very nice to see the Juniors racing again and even better to kick it off with a win.

IM3 1x
Next up was Ryan, racing in a single. Up against stiff opposition from Star Club and with limited racing experience in a single, he went out in the first round, losing by 2 1/2 lengths

J15 1x
Another of the inexperienced juniors, Alex in his first race in a single was no match for a BMS sculler and he lost by 3 lengths

WJ14 2x-
Lainy and Roisin put up a good race against a Dame Alice double and pushed them hard all the way, but lost out by just 1 1/2 lengths.

WJ14 1x
A heart breaking result for Lainy in her single. Having fought hard against the Sudbury girl all down the course she lost out by just one foot! Can’t get much closer than that over a 600m course; a tough result and a horrid way to lose.

This was all from the juniors – one win and some very encouraging races from the others, especially poor Lainy. Still, a good sign and hopefully a pointer of greater things to come.

So to the senior crews…

W.IM3 4x-
A slightly different line up to that at East Midlands, with Lou swapping in for the absent Karen with Paula, Alice and Clare making up the crew. With the crew still being fairly new to sculling and with Clare still learning the art of steering, not surprisingly they lost out in their first race to Star Club, by 3 lengths.

Mas CDE 2-
Pierre-Yves and Steve swapped sculling blades for sweep and were out in the pair. Racing as a Masters C crew, their first opponents were a “D” crew from Star Club;this meant Steve and Pierre-Yves starting six seconds behind. From an absolutely storming start, the two of them pulled back the handicap start within the first couple of hundred meters and were then able to “sit” on the Star boat for a comfortable finish, 3/4 length clear. The final was the same handicap, this time against a Peterborough boat. This was to be a much harder race, with our guys pulling back the handicap fairly quickly but then fighting neck and neck down the course. Coming towards the end, Steve was cutting the line fine to gain a slight edge but, unfortunately, cut it a bit to close to Monkey Island and clipped the bank. This lost them precious seconds and the Peterborough boat pushed over the line to win by a length and a half. A real case of “what might have been” especially as we heard the Peterborough crew rowing back say that they’d have lost had Steve and Pierre-Yves not clipped.

IM3 4x-
For the first round our crew (of Mike, Josh, Nelson and Tom) faced a Northampton boat. With this being a new combination and Tom steering his first quad race, it could have gone any way. As it happens, the first round was a fairly comfortable run, beating Northampton by three lengths. Into the final, they were against a Medway Towns crew who had comprehensively beaten Star Club in their first race, so this looked like a tough draw. So it proved – there was nothing to choose between the two crews all down the course, with the lead swapping back and forth. Come the finish line, neither crew knew who had won – not surprisingly as the verdict was a win for MK by a mere three feet! Not a bad way for Tom and Nelson to de-novice either.

Mas BC 4+
For a pleasant change, we found we were the older crew in this event and had a five second handicap in our favour – I think this is the first time I’ve had this! This was a reprise of our National Masters boat, but with Pierre-Yves and I swapping sides to try and improve the balance and power. This certainly worked off the start with a really good, strong hard push away. Despite the quickest five seconds I’ve ever heard, we had enough to keep the Sudbury boat behind us, being able to (just) match their pushes. All down the course they were eating into our lead and by the time we crossed the line, although we thought we’d done enough, we weren’t sure and had to call over to the finish marshal to get confirmation – we’d won by a canvas.

The final was a bit of a shock – we’d seen in the draw that our opponents, X-Press, were again a “B” crew to our “C” and expected a similar head start. However, on the start line the start umpire called that we were both “C” and so there would be no handicap – a bit of a psychological blow, certainly for me! Anyhow, although we put in another really good start, so did X-Press and we were soon trailing , albeit just slightly. They proved to be just that bit quicker than us though and gradually eked out a lead, to finish a length clear. Despite this, we felt this was a good race, and maybe the exertions from Steve and Pierre-Yves in the pair and our having to fight through the first round (X-Press had a bye to the final) may have just made the difference.

A word for our cox here – David came all the way over to Bedford just to cox our boat, having no races of his own. He did a first class job and coxed really well – thank you, it was really appreciated!

W.IM2 4+
Although this crew hadn’t actually raced together, they had all raced in various combinations in the past and looked a strong boat. It comprised Charlene, back from a rest, with Lindy, Jo and Paula backing her up. From the start they pushed away from St Neots and just eased away from there. Already a couple of lengths clear approaching the finish, the St Neots boat also clipped Monkey Island (quite an achievement for a bow loader cox!) making it into a comfortable 3 1/2 lengths win.

Nice for the girls, especially given that they were lugging an 85 kilo cox down the course (Benn is not what you’d call natural coxing material) but a shame that again they pick up racing points off of a straight final that they’ve won easily.

IM2 4+
A second race of the day for Mike, John and Josh with Benn in his first outing. This was a straight final, against Peterborough, with our crew unable to get ahead and finishing some 1 1/4 lengths adrift.

Mas CD 2x-
Originally planned to be a racing début for Roger (at 70+!) he unfortunately twinged his back the previous day. Needing another “Master” to fill in and finding the rest of us “old boys” were in clashing events, Paula very gamely agreed to sit in with Benn. As this was their first outingever, they were up against two huge Norwich guys AND they had the handicap against them, the result wasn’t overly surprising! A good paddle nonetheless, although the “easily” verdict wasn’t unexpected.

My thoughts…
Not quite sure what went wrong with the weather – maybe the sacrifice wasn’t enough this time – as it was grey, cool and occasionally wet. Still, despite this it was another well run event, although (unusually for Bedford) there were a couple of glitches, mainly having to stop racing to sort out the marker buoys.

My biggest worry is that, yet again, entries seemed well down; this manifested itself in a number of ways. First, we had a couple of crews scratched with no competition, second, most of the races were straight finals and lastly the usual steady flow of races we normally see at Bedford was a bit staccato. I really think someone at British Rowing needs to start looking at this as, if this trend continues, we’ll start losing events off the calendar as they become non-viable (unless that is the intention?). Although there may be a financial aspect to this the general consensus seems to be the points regime is scaring people from entering races.

The biggest shame is that this is the last “Quarts” event – I guess the cost of these has become excessive but no more will we race for those magnificent 2-pint pots. Tragically, I never won one – made all the worse by wife and daughter celebrating their gallons, having won their fourth Quarts pot today.

Star Head 2010

November 21, 2010

Another Head Race, another four wins for the club. The ladies continued their impressive run of form, taking wins at IM3 and Masters C coxed fours, with us “Masters” chipping in with two wins, one for Pierre-Yves and Tim at “B” and the other for the Quad at “C”.

W.IM2 4+
Only two boats in this category, with our ladies falling to St. Neots by just four seconds. As this is really a Masters C crew, a very impressive, solid performance by Charlene, Paula, Lou and Karen, with impeccable coxing (by yours truly). St. Neots ate into us off the start and although we held them through the middle of the race and put in a really strong last 500, were unable to get this back. Maybe a lesson that we need to push harder and faster off the start, as the strength was really there at the end.

Masters B 2x-
Pierre-Yves and Tim out again, looking more impressive each time. They powered through this race and won deservedly.

Novice 2x-
Benn and Gwen reprising their multi-national crew again but not quite as successfully as last time out.

W.IM3 4+
Another new line up, this time with Liz, Sam, Helen J and Ash, coxed by Charlene. Showing the flexibility and depth of the women’s squad, this boat powered through to win by over 30 seconds from three other crews.

Masters C 4x-
Moving on from our performance last week on the Tideway, we put out probably our best row to date. The four of us (me, Simon, Tim and Pierre-Yves) put in a very fast start (rating around 35) to put distance between us and Boston (our only competition, who were following us) and then a couple of really good, strong pushes, especially past Bedford RC, saw us ease away to win by 34 seconds.

IM3 4+
Benn and Gwen swapped sculling blades for sweep in this boat, with Iain and Nelson making up the crew, with Charlene jumping out of the W.IM3 4+ boat to cox. Benn set a fast rate, which the novices in the boat struggled to match, trading speed for power and they finished 27 seconds adrift of the winning Sudbury boat

W. Masters C 4+
With Clare swapping in for Charlene, and Paula moving to Stroke, this boat raced to win the category, beating the nearest Star Club boat by 16 seconds

W.IM1 2x-
After the confusion around this entry, initially making Jo think she’d been entered only to find it was meant to be Liz’s sister and then her not getting her BR license in time, this wound up with a completely new crew of Sam and Liz. When I said to Liz that I was surprised to see Sam sculling, her reply was that Sam was even more surprised. Considering this was only Sam’s fourth time out in a scull, to finish just 16 seconds adrift of the winning Cambridge 99 double was truly spectacular

Novice 4+
Benn swapped out for Rob M compared to the IM3 boat. To his mortification, the Novice boat then went and posted a time 8 seconds faster; this seems to have been a case of lowering the rate allowed the novice men to put more power down.

Masters D 1x
As my sole aims in this race were to finish the same way up as I’d started and avoid hitting anything large and immovable (memories of my last attempt at steering Bedford can be seen here), posting a time of 9:25 wasn’t all that bad. Spending most of my race looking round for the bridges probably slowed me a lot, but that’s the first one over and done with. Third out of three, 35 seconds adrift, but at least I kept dry!

First time we’ve attended Star Head and it may well be the last.

The marshals seem to have taken up the bad temper and rudeness that was absent from the Tideway last week and made it a thoroughly unpleasant event. We were subjected to a stream of aggressive, unwarranted (and frequently contradictory) shouting from marshals who seemed 1) to have it in for MK in particular and 2) allow Star Club crews to do whatever they wanted. Not nice. We weren’t alone in this view, having chatted to a coach from another nearby club and the one friendly marshal (who came from Bedford RC).

There was a total lack of communication between marshals, leading to one great occasion when one marshal told us to spin, followed by another screaming at us “Milton Keynes, what do you think you are doing!”. Another, when we are spinning quickly at the finish area, with boats either side, to have some muppet shout at us to hurry up. The start marshal – “get your bow in” – “why are you letting your stern out?” (law of physics?) – while a Star boat sits slap bang in the middle of the river – we were not happy. The best was being shouted at to get our boat out of the centre of the river – seconds after passing the finish line, with no one coming down the river. Being shouted at to get our boat out when Star crews were sitting at the pontoon adjusting feet, swapping blades and, unbelievably, pinning numbers on was just ridiculous.

It spoilt what should have been a really nice event – contrast this to the recent Bedford event, which was slick, run on time and friendly. Why should we put up with this kind of abuse?

St Neots Regatta 2010

July 24, 2010

A combination of factors lead to a disappointing turn out for this year’s St. Neots Regatta. With many club members away or with other commitments, and one boat being scrubbed through lack of competition, we were down to just four boats on Saturday and five on Sunday. Despite no wins on Saturday, Jo and Liz reprised their success at Bedford and won the W.IM2 2x- on Sunday

Saturday – 1,000m

IM3 4x-
We put in a new line up of Tom R, Tim, Steve and I (with Pierre-Yves away), rowing at IM3 rather than Masters C. Despite a lack of practise in this combination, our first round went very well. We put in a cracking start, which put us clear on Maidstone. Round the corner they pulled back a bit, having the inside lane, but we held on and pushed away, finishing a length and three-quarters clear. This put us into the final, pitching us against a Boston crew. They matched us off the start and made use of the inside of the bend to pull away. Despite a hard row, we couldn’t close on them and they took the win by a length.

IM3 1x-
Tim was up against a sculler from Doncaster Schools who looked to be far more experienced, even if younger. Although having the inside line, Tim was down coming into the straight and was unable to reel him.

Masters D 2x-
Steve and I out in our usual double – a good start saw us heading Abingdon into the corner. Despite a strong push from them, we maintained a small lead to about 750m. Then (certainly for me, don’t know about Steve!) the effort from the Quad started to tell and they pushed past us to finish a length clear.

Women’s IM2 2x-
Liz and Jo reprising their double from Bedford, albeit with less success… This being the first time out at St Neots for Liz, they steered an “interesting” course which led them into Leeds’ lane. Although they were clear and didn’t impede Leeds (who had pushed them across in the first place), Leeds lodged a protest which was upheld, leading to the girls being disqualified. Very unfortunate, especially as the umpire said he’d have ordered a re-row if it had been the final rather than disqualifying them.

Sunday – 500m

W.Nov 2x-
A first race (and only third outing) from Yemin and Lou as a Novice double. This shows a lot of potential as they stuck with their opponents all down the course until a slight steering glitch cost them time. An encouraging début to finish three lengths down.

W.IM2 4+
Given the lack of preparation for this crew (they were discussing seating plans and who was stroking first thing in the morning) they performed brilliantly. Another new combination, this time with Lindy, Paula, Karen and Lou coxed by Liz, they pulled off a great start in their heat and then sat on the Bedford crew all the way to the finish, winning by one and a half lengths. This saw them into the final, against a very good Peterborough crew; level off the start, the Peterborough ladies pushed through to finish three quarters of a length down.

Mst D 2x-
Steve and I in our usual combination – for some reason, we fluffed our start and this gave the Maidstone crew a half length lead at least. Although we were pleased with our row, we weren’t able to haul back anything and they finished three quarters of a length up (and then went on to win the event).

Mixed IM3 2x-
On a personal level, this was really pleasing – not often you get to race seriously with your daughter! Having done this event for a bit of fun at our regatta, Jo and I decided to give it a serious go at St. Neots. Partly, this was based on an expectation of there being a handful of crews; wrong! This was a tough event with a dozen crews entered. We pulled a Lincoln boat in the first round and shall we say youth triumphed over experience as we trailed in a length and a half down. However, we were pleased with the row and we weren’t that far off the pace.

W.IM2 2x-
Jo and Liz were determined to put yesterday’s disappointment behind them and they did so in style. A first round win over the RAF by two lengths was followed by a semi-final victory over Leeds by a length. This put them into the final, almost inevitably against the Leeds crew who they raced and were disqualified against the previous day. Despite not having one of their better starts, the two powered through and pushed away from the Leeds boat to finish three quarters of a length up and win the category

Disappointing turn out from the club, especially compared to previous years and slim pickings on Saturday. More than made up for by a well deserved victory for the W.IM2 2x- although this now puts them up to the lofty heights of IM1!

Again, a really well run event, Saturday bang on time and Sunday running early. Well done to St Neots RC for this. A lot of discussion in the crews about how they scheduled events – I personally liked it but others weren’t convinced. What they did was to schedule heats, semis and finals for each event as closely as possible. This meant fairly small gaps (45 minutes or so) between races but all crews had the same recovery time so no-one got an advantage and it removed the problem of clashes later in the day.

Couple of intriguing happenings on the Sunday as well – first, the Northampton double that managed to completely snap a blade – during their race. It seemed that bow hit a “buoy” (i.e. a milk carton) and this was enough the shear a carbon fibre oar in two, impressive.

Second was the St Neots quad that arrived at the finish without their bow man, who’d appeared a few minutes earlier on the safety launch, dripping wet and with his blades. What happened and how they managed to navigate the quad with no steers person are two of life’s great mysteries…

Photos (from both days) on line at the fotopic site

Results are available at the St. Neots RC site

St Neots Head 2009

October 5, 2009

The first Head race of the winter saw yet another great performance by the ladies, with the WIM2 4+ taking the honours. Despite three of the crew suffering from heavy colds and rowing at IM2 for the first time, their strength and technique was enough to take the win by five seconds over the nearest crew. Considering this was a St Neots boat on their own water that contained some GB Juniors, this was a seriously impressive result. Maybe people will finally take notice and stop being surprised at being beaten by MK?

The other two boats out didn’t fare as well, the second WIM2 4+ boat being a bit off the pace and Steve and Clare making their racing début in a double had a few steering problems that put them well down the field.

Results on line here, and photos now up at MKRC Fotopic site

No other boats today as no competition for the Quad or Steve and I. Closest I got to racing was coxing the second ladies boat; now I know why my kids get so grumpy when they’re not competing but just watching…

St. Neots Regatta 2009

August 1, 2009

I guess it shows how far we have progressed, especially the Women’s squad, that coming away from St. Neots without a single win feels really disappointing. There were some very good races and close finishes across both days plus a really good social evening on the Saturday but not a successful week-end overall.

First crew out was the Womens IM3 4+. This was a slight change from Bedford with Yemin replacing Charlene (both availability and points!) and they went out (most surprisingly!) in the first round to the Broxbourne crew they had beaten the previous week. Broxbourne went on to win the event – typically, ours was the closest race they had all day. Next up was John Cunningham – no, not JC in person but the boat, racing with a Mixed IM2 8+. Despite a TOTAL lack of practice they gave Lea a hard row, losing by just one and a third lengths over the 1K course. Some very interesting comments from the marshals about it being unusual to see John’s name on anything other than a bar tab….

Following this was the biggest mismatch of the day. Having entered our Vet C quad and agreed to switch to IM3 if no competition, we were not impressed by finding we were racing instead at IM2. The race would have been a walk over for Star even if we hadn’t had two boat stopping crabs. Our annoyance at this was then compounded by not being entered at IM3 on Sunday although there was opposition. The whole draw process was a complete joke – wake up SNRC and join the 21st century and use OARA! As it was, we might as well have not raced it was so one sided.

Final race of the day was Steve and I in the Vet D 2x. Racing against the losing finalists from Henley Vets was always going to be a tall order but we were pleased with our row, even though we lost by a couple of lengths.

Following the day’s racing we retired for a few beers and a barbie (one of dozens, despite the insistence that no clubs were to have a barbie – there was a haze of smoke hanging over the field!)

So to the 500m sprints on Sunday. The first boat out was the Womens Novice 4+. Despite being drawn against Barnes Bridge Ladies, their opposition was Doncaster. Apparently, the event was re-drawn as one crew had scratched the previous evening, so we were moved – only for another crew to scratch leaving us disadvantaged. And I thought draws were fixed and if a crew scratched that was your good fortune. Anyhow, our novice women rowed a stormer, despite being off line at the start, to come through for a win. Next up was (can’t figure this out) Barnes Bridge Ladies. A real disappointment here, as one of the crew caught a boat stopper when they were leading comfortably, handing the race to BBL on a plate. A real pity as they looked well on top and who knows where they would have finished.

Second crew of the day was a Mixed Quad, with Steve and I being joined by Clare and Bex. Seeing as we had never rowed as a crew before, losing to Doncaster by a length wasn’t bad!

Next up was what was described by the race commentator as the Women’s Blue Riband event – the IM3 8+. Really, really nice to see us able to put out a ladies eight – and a very strong one at that. They had Maidstone Invicta in the first round and once they settled and got the power on, rowed through the other crew for a comfortable win. The final saw an epic race, again with Barnes Bridge Ladies. Steve and I had a grandstand view of the finish of this one, having just boated for our Vet D 2x race. The boats were pretty level over the last 100m, with both crews clearly giving it everything. BBL had just enough though, pipping our crew by just a third of a length. Credit to the BBL crew, they had only de-noviced the previous day and look like a class act – very gracious in victory as well.

Steve and I had a re-run of the previous day’s race, against the same Peterborough pair. Whatever the reason, it just didn’t come together and we wound up losing by a bigger margin over 500m than over 1000m the previous day! Oh well…

Photos on-line at MKRC Photo site but no results from SNRC yet.

We do like St Neots week-end but this year was, I’m sorry to say, an organisational shambles. Our Novice 4+ was “missed” from the Saturday draw, the quad bumped to IM2 without consultation and dropped from IM3 on Sunday and many of our boats just dropped completely. By the way, we are still waiting for a refund on these events – as a small club, we can’t afford to subsidise big clubs like SNRC and will have to think long and hard about racing there next year.