This weekend just gone (13th-14th July 2013) I competed at the Burton Regatta.
Team Trent all met at the club at 7am (well most of us did, some didn’t quite get there on time) for a pre-race paddle. As I wasn’t racing until late afternoon I didn’t actually get to go for a paddle with the rest of my crews. So, I helped paddle a quad up to the regatta field, one at bow/stroke and nobody in the middle!
The Burton regatta isn’t held near the club due to lack of space, so it’s 1.4km (approx) up river.
Things did not get off to the best start for me as I slipped on the grass bank at the club while getting the launch out. I was actually quite lucky to not break my leg as I slipped and went under the launch which then fell on my leg just above the knee. I escaped with a shallow cut a couple of inches long. It was a bit sore, but thankfully it didn’t impede my performances.
I had 2 events on the Saturday, both quads.
My first race was at 16:25 in the Masters C Coxless Quad Scull (MasC.4x-) against North Staffs. I wasn’t confident that we’d do well in this one, but I was proven wrong. It took us a while to get lined up at the start on account of the flow of the river pushing the crew on the Stapenhill side around a bit. The Saturday start is from stake boats, so it’s a bit fiddly! My memory of this has faded a little in the 2½ weeks since we raced. I do remember getting soaked through! I was at 3 (sitting behind stroke), both the guy at stroke and 2 are known “splashers” and I got the brunt of it. Still, it was nice and refreshing as the whole weekend was an absolute scorcher, weather wise. We won fairly easily by a length or two. So, my first win in a long time. But, no extra sculling point. The rules for masters are that you can only win a point if you don’t already have any.
My second (and last) race was at 17:15 in the Open Intermediate 2 Coxless Quad Sculls (IM2.4x-). We had a bye into the final, which turned out to be against Bradford. Again, I wasn’t sure how we’d perform. One of our crew had to pull out due to a back injury, so we roped someone else in from another club and we weren’t sure how we’d do as he’d only been in a quad a couple of times. But, about 30 minutes before race time the substitute was changed for a better sculler from Team Trent, things were looking up. The paddle up to the start was promising, we were moving well. Again, it was fiddly at the start getting both crews lined up. Pretty much as soon as we set off, things got aggressive on the steering front! There was a lot of “move over” shouts from both bow-men, we clashed blades about halfway down the course. They took a lead on us, we pulled it back and pulled away, they came back again. Like I said, *VERY* competitive. Coming in to the last 50 metres or so they were up by almost a length and I was shouting “GO” at the top of my lungs for 4 or 5 strokes and we had a massive surge and started to eat up the gap, then it got really interesting! We were clashing blades and riggers! But, I kept on rowing for all I was worth, my legs felt like lumps of lead I was gasping for air but I kept going. That is, until we got so tangled up neither crews could row any more! We crossed the line all tangled up and I was positive we’d won, as was the other crew and everyone else in my crew. We appealed immediately as they’d rowed into our water and (rightly so) we’d held our ground. The verdict came in just as we were landing, Bradford by 3 feet! No-one could quite believe it. With one person left in the boat we could still get a re-row. (The rule is if the whole crew is out we’ve accepted the verdict)
It seems the only people who thought we’d lost were the officials. So, we had a re-row on our hands. The first I’ve ever done, and not the thing I wanted to hear after my legs had just turned to jelly! We paddled straight back up to the start, turned around and we were off again. Unfortunately we didn’t have much left and lost by a couple of lengths.
So, because of slight changes in times of the races, I ended up rowing three 1100m sprints back-to-back. With the benefit of hindsight the IM2 was an awesome race to be a part of, so agonisingly close to a win. But, it felt good to be right up there in the mix rather than lagging behind by a number of lengths.
Sunday is a shorter sprint regatta over a distance of 700m. Again I had 2 events, both quads. I am becoming something of a quad specialist!
My first race was at 13:36 in the semi-final of the Open Intermediate 3 Coxless Quad Sculls (IM3.4x-) against Burton Leander (our neighbouring club). Apparently they were all about the start, going off hard and controlling the race from the front. Armed with that knowledge we practised a few starts beyond the start line (it’s not allowed on the course). We were moving well and agreed on a good stroke pattern for the start. As it’s a shorter distance it’s a free start, so the 2 crews have to get level and then we’re set off. We powered away from the start and I knew we’d won by the time I’d taken the 3rd stroke. We were a couple of lengths up within 50 metres from the start and we kept pulling away to win easily. If I were to guess I’d say we’d got somewhere around 5 lengths on them by the time we crossed the finish line. We were through to a Trent-Trent final!
The other event for Sunday was another Masters C quad, in the same crew as the day before. I remember this race, again for the thorough soaking I got all the way down the course. Which was actually very refreshing as it was even hotter than the previous day. I’d take a guess that it was hitting 30C. We were racing a crew from Ancholme rowing club, and they were having issues lining up at the start. We were eventually set off and I knew we had them from the 2nd stroke! I looked across and they were almost tipping in! Lots of shouting and very messy, they recovered and staged a comeback halfway down the course, but we were always in control. All this despite the boat being a bit wobbly and very very splashy. But we kept our heads, kept the boat upright and crossed the finish line several lengths ahead.
So, on to the final of the IM3.4x-, a Trent-Trent final no less. A fairly relaxed affair ….. on the surface! But I needed to win this one! We were pretty much the last race of the day, so the only people left cheering us on from the river bank were the local clubs! The paddle up the the start was good and we put some firm pressure on the way there to try things out. We were confident of a win.
We powered off the start, even quicker than previous races. We had them off the start again, up by a length within 15 strokes. We kept the pressure on and had a massive pickup with about 100 metres to go. It’s always easier to do that when you can see the other crew! The boat was really flying and we won easily.
So, my haul for the weekend was 3 medals. It should have been 4, but there you go. Perhaps if we’d moved over a touch in our IM2 race on Saturday instead of holding our ground we’d have won as we were destroying them in that final sprint. But, you live and learn.
Overall, an awesome weekend of racing made extra special by being cheered on by my little boy as I won a few races!
(photos to follow)