Shrewbury Regatta 2014

The last time I competed at Shrewsbury Regatta was when I lost my novices way back in 2009.

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On the Saturday the course is 1000m and had a single event to compete in, Masters C 2x. I’d not been in a boat for 2 weeks, or a double for about 6 months and had never rowed in a double with my partner. These facts did not bode well. It didn’t go well either. We were lucky to not capsize if I’m honest. Steering was a problem as we just couldn’t get our stroke side blades out of the water because we were constantly being pushed over by the high wind. Our opposition were sheltered from it on the other side of the river, but I’m sure they were feeling the effects of the weather. We felt it more because we weren’t balanced to start with. We eventually paddled over the finish some time after our opposition. It was probably the worst I’ve ever sculled and I was very embarrassed by my performance.


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Sunday sees the course reduced to 600m, again I had a single event to compete in. This time Masters C/D/E 4x-. It was a straight final against a Masters E crew. Masters rules meant that they were given a 9 second head start, which over a 600m course seems like an eternity. After a false start and us receiving an official warning, our opposition were set off and the long countdown began. We stuck to the start we used at Leicester regatta as it seems to work well for us. The boat speed picked up quickly and we soon got in to a good rhythm. I sat at the 3 position just behind the stroke man, constantly making calls out to help him get to a good rhythm and keep it.

I’ve always seen the 3 seat as a crucial seat. When I’m sat there I make it my job to stroke the boat along with the stroke man, I can reign him in when things get rushed and stop the other guys rushing him in. So, that’s what I did. It’s also my job to calm the stroke man down when things get a bit sloppy, which they tend to do in the latter stages of a race!

Anyway, we had a good rhythm, the boat was moving well and we were balanced, for the most part. I glanced over my left shoulder and saw a boat, we’d only taken around 20 or so strokes, so I looked again and it was our opposition. We’d eaten up their head start in no time at all and were rowing through them. We got maybe half a length up and they picked it up, trying to pull us back. But we were really into a good groove at this point. I kept making calls to the stroke man to keep the length and rhythm we had. No one else could hear me! Not that it matters as they’ll follow the rhythm stroke is setting. We pulled ahead and stretched out a lead of 2-3 lengths by the time we crossed the finish line. Job done.

I was quite surprised by how heavy I was breathing as it didn’t feel that hard during the race. That’s a sign of a good row. It feels good, even easy right up until you stop rowing, then it hits you like a brick wall!

I was still buzzing from the adrenaline 20 minutes after we’d got the boat off the water!

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For anyone wondering what the numbers mean …

  • 2x = double scull
  • 4x- = quad coxless scull

 

Leicester Regatta 2014

On Sunday 27th April 2014 I competed at Leicester Regatta, which was surprisingly easy to get to. Parking was fairly close by, being only a 5 minute walk away.

I had 2 events, the first being a Masters Quad. We never quite got the boat sat right on the paddle up to the start, and that continued during the race. We were, however, at a disadvantage from the word go. In master rowing there is a rather bizarre rule where the older crews are given a head start. I can understand the reasoning behind it, just not the execution of it. Masters crews are categorised by the average age of the crew, so with us being slightly younger we had to start 5 seconds after our opposition. The problem I have with it being done at the start is that we are immediately in our opponents wash, which makes everything that much more difficult.

Anyway, we pulled a little bit of the deficit back, but not enough. We lost by 2 lengths.

The next event was an IM3 quad. We fared much better in that, as we were both starting at the same time. We’ve been training as a coxless/coxed 4 for the last couple of weeks, so this was the first time in a while that we’d rowed together in a quad. The paddle up to the start was much better, although to me it still didn’t feel quite right. We agreed on our start strategy, and it worked great. Our start was really smooth, and we got the boat up to speed within 5 or 6 strokes. We were level with our opposition for the start and when we lengthened out, pulled away from them with every stroke. Towards the latter third of the course we started to get a bit messy, so I made a few calls to the stroke man (I was at 3) and we crossed the finish line 3 lengths ahead. Job done, on to the final, which I’d forgot about and was privately celebrating getting another point!!

In the final we weren’t quite as clean or as powerful and were down from a couple of strokes in. We were up against a much stronger crew and ended up losing “easily”.

Despite losing there are a lot of positive to take away from that. The main one is that we were racing against students in the IM3 event, literally half our age. And we got into the final, so I’m really very pleased with how we did. Also, it’s the start of the season and we can only get better.

So, I’m looking forward to a good season of sculling and sweep oar rowing.

Ross Regatta 2009

On the 31st of August I raced at Ross Regatta in a coxed 4 and a coxless quad. Having survived the previous evenings antics, ending up in a shot drinking spree and then bearing witness to some drunken streaking, I was lucky in that my races weren’t until later on in the day!

We got through to the final, but lost by a length or thereabouts despite a big final push for the line. The coxed four didn’t go so well and we lost in our first heat.

All things considered a good weekend, and quite encouraging that we managed to win our first race at Intermediate 1 level and came so close to an event win.

Gloucester Regatta 2009

On the 29th of August I travelled down to Ross-on-Wye to join my team mates who had been taking part in the Dragon Boat racing that day. I didn’t partake myself, I was only going there for the rowing/sculling.

On arriving at the campsite, I was quickly told that we might not have a race the following day. I was not too pleased to be hearing that! So, a call was made to Gloucester to let them know what one of our crew had pulled out and that we didn’t have enough people to make up a crew. We were very kindly offered the services of one of the Gloucester rowing club members. So, we were back on.

Since Gloucester is only a short 30 minute drive from Ross, we all camped over at Ross and were planning to drive over for our races on the Sunday. What we didn’t count on was a 9:05 am heat in our open IM3 eight. That meant we had to get up at 6:30am!!

So, with our scratch crew, we set off in our borrowed eight with our cox wearing a borrowed life jacket. How prepared were we!!

It actually went reasonably well, the boat did sit down to bow side a bit too often though.

We had quite a good start really, gaining half a length straight away. We then increased that lead gradually throughout the race and won our heat comfortably, if not a little messily!

The final didn’t follow the same pattern, while it was a close race I don’t think our opposition were ever in with a chance of losing it.

Stourport Regatta 2009

On the 15th & 16th of August I competed at Stourport Regatta. This was another first for me, as I now had my own tent to live in for the weekend. My chosen abode is a Vango Swift 300. It’s a 3 man tent with a lobby area, so it’s very comfortable. I can’t stand up in it, but there is plenty of room to get changed in there. It’s one of these popup tents, so literally takes seconds to pop up, and a couple of minutes in total to pitch fully. Combined with my ReadyBed (a sleeping bag with built in airbed) I was very comfy for the whole weekend.

  

The weather reports for the weekend were a bit mixed, ranging from cloudy and rainy to blistering heat. Well, it turned out to be the latter, which while nice and dry; Poses another problem of trying to avoid getting burnt to a crisp!

On to the racing….

The coxless quad was again the only event I competed in. This time just the one event each day, which turned out to only be one race on each day. For our race on Saturday we had a bye into the final, which turned out to be against Birmingham University. This was the crew that had won the gold medal at this years National Championships. Armed with that knowledge I became even more nervous than usual.

While our start wasn’t the best we’d ever done, we had an overlap with them after the first 5 strokes. But, that was the last we saw of them until we crossed the finish line, and they were already turned around waiting to get off the water. The verdict was – easily. Not a good result for us, but I think we all knew we didn’t really stand much of a chance. So, we treated it a bit like doing a good training piece, and in those terms it was a good row. Still, a bit embarresing though.

For our race on Sunday we again had a bye in to the final. Quite a relaxed weekend really! As it happened it turned into a straight final, as the semi was to include the previous days winners. But, they chose not to race. So, we were in a straight final against Worcester RC. We had a bit of a wait, as the race was scheduled for just after 4pm. I even managed to fall asleep on the riverside, it was a nice sunny day after all plus I was feeling quite chilled out.

Anyway, our race came and we boated along with our opposition. After what seemed like an eternity, to get the other dozen or so races out of the way before ours could start we lined up ready. Feeling pretty confident as I’d had a look at our opposition and they didn’t seem quite together as a crew. We got a pretty good start, getting the boat up to speed quicker than we usually do in race situations. Because we have a very old boat, it’s very heavy, so we’re usually at a disadvantage off the start and usually have a length or two to make up after the start. This time however, we didn’t. We were level. That kind of threw us all a bit. But, we kept our heads and got into our rhythm, beginning to push away from our opposition. The Sunday course is very short at Stourport, it’s 450m but feels much quicker despite being upstream; So I was told. So, we weren’t hanging about and were giving it all we had. The boat was moving okay, not as well as we’ve done in training pieces. But, we had a 2-3 length lead by the time we got to the last 150m. Kenny called for a push, later he told me he did that for fear of us being passed in the dying stages of the race. So, he made the call even though we were ahead. We responded, and it got a little messy but we soon sorted it out. Meanwhile, our opposition were making their push for the line. I think because they were already behind and had a fair bit of ground (water) to make up they panicked a bit. Their number 3 man caught a crab which slowed them down quite a lot. Seeing that I backed off the power a bit, knowing we had it in the bag. I think the other guys in the crew also did that, and we cruised over the line; Still putting a bit of a squeeze on, but not pushing it so hard that it got messy. Basically, just keeping it clean and smooth.

So, I now had 3 points and another pot to put on my shelf. Awesome!!

Apparently, every single person from Trent Rowing Club who competed at Stourport Regatta came away with a pot. I’m told it’s our best ever away regatta, with a total of 9 wins. Not earth shattering, but pretty good for such a small club.

The official photographer for the regatta has a service where we can get all our club photos onto a CD for only £30. So, we got him to take a few Team Trent photos on the Sunday just before we left for the journey home. Once I get a copy of the CD I’ll add some photos to this post.

Trophy Shelf- Teddies courtesy of Sue!

Photos arrived some time back but I’ve just got round to putting them on here

Drive

Catch

Mens IM2 4x Crew

Bewdley Regatta 2009

On the 25th and 26th of July I competed at Bewdley regatta. Again, concentrating on the coxless quad, but this time in 2 events per day. Unfortunately, we didn’t come away with any pots although we did get through to all the finals. I can’t remember which category we competed twice in, but we did compete in Intermediate 1,2 and 3 in varying crew combinations.

Although we came away without any pots we did have close races and were encouraged by how close to the Intermediate 1 crew we were.

We had good weather on the Saturday, very hot at time. But Sunday turned into a downpour for most of the day.

Bewdley Regatta 2009 – Boat Pairing

Burton Regatta 2009

This year for my home regatta I switched from during sweep oar to only competing in sculling events. I’ve been consistently rowing as part of a crew in a coxless quad this season. We’ve come close to winning events a few times recently, usually losing out by just a few feet. Concentrating on just the one event this year, the coxless quad, made for a much more relaxing day!

Our straight final in the Intermediate 3 event was against Warrington RC. I don’t actually remember much about the race apart from the last 200 metres. We were neck and neck and it felt like we were gradually falling behind. Kenny, our bow man made a call for a push for the line. We all responded instantly picked up the boat speed and pushing past them for a win by a third of a length. I actually had my first experience of tunnel vision in a rowing boat in that final push. We all just seemed to get in sync together and really pushed as hard as we possible could. I remember my legs being quite painful after the exertion. We were all completely spent as we crossed the finish line. I don’t remember hearing anything other than my own splashes, I don’t remember thinking of anything else other than boat speed. Then I heard the bell, looked over at our opposition and I honestly couldn’t tell who’d got it. Apparently it went an all out sprint for the line from both crews, quite exciting I was told later on. We didn’t actually find out that we’d won until after we’d got our boat back to the trailer.

So, I now have two sculling points. Although I didn’t feel like I’d really earned the last one as it was a straight final. Still, those are the rules.

    Burton Regatta 2009 – Boating

Burton Regatta 2009 – Paddling to the start

Burton Regatta 2009 – Sprint for the finish

Burton Regatta 2009 – Pots

Unfortunately, we didn’t win on the Sunday. So just the one point for the weekend. I missed out, yet again, on a regatta burger because by the time I’d helper get the quad back to the club the burger stall had packed up for the day.

Loughborough Regatta 2009

On the 13th of July (the day before my holiday) I went up to the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham for the 2009 Loughborough Regatta.

I had just one event this time, the coxless quad in the Intermediate 3 category. Because of the brilliant facilities at the NWSC it was a straight final even with 6 entries. We were actually given an official warning for turning up late, but then so were 3 other crews. I think the officials were getting a bit bored up there at the start!

Anyway, prior to this regatta we’d all been training in this boat pretty regularly so were hopeful of doing well.

Unfortunately the bow man missed his first 2 strokes, which put us down a length on most of the other crews. Once we got into it and hit our race pace we soon rowed through them and reeled in the leading crews. We were in 3rd place with an overlap on the 2nd placed crew with 500 metres to go (of the 1000m course). I think due to lack of fitness and high rate training we slacked off the power for a couple hundred metres and the 1st and 2nd placed crews pulled away from us, but the 4th, 5th and 6th placed crews were still falling behind. We made a push in the last 250m to the finish and did start to come back on the 2 leading crews but it was too little too late. We crossed the line in a respectable time of 3:39.4.

In all a good effort, which we will obviously have to build upon. More higher rater training on the water and more fitness training are in order.

Northwich Regatta 2009

On the 25th May I travelled up to Northwich with my girlfriend in tow. Her first regatta since last year’s home regatta at Burton. I was in 2 crews, a coxed 4 (Intermediate 2) and a coxless quad (Intermediate 3).

We’d only been out as a crew training twice before the regatta, the first session was terrible and it wasn’t looking too good. But we all seemed to click in the second session, so things were looking up. That upbeat feeling continued into out heat which we won by 2/3rds of a length in a very closely fought race to put ourselves into the final. We all knew we’d need to improve a lot in order to win the event. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and we lost by a length in another closely fought race. It was all a bit messy and we did well to get it together to put a big push on towards the finish line, another 15 or 20 strokes and we would have gone through our opposition from Pengwern Boat Club of Shrewsbury.

I had higher hopes for the coxless quad as that is more of a regular fixture during training. As it turned out we were beaten in our heat. I suspect if we weren’t kept waiting at the start by our opposition for over an hour we would probably have won. The competitors are sent up to the start line in batches, our opposition missed their slot despite us telling them we were going up to the start. I was really annoyed by that, I have to say I’ll not be too eager to go to that regatta again. Justice was served in the end as they lost in the final to a crew of ankle biters!! 😉

It was a really enjoyable day, just marred a bit by the crap we had to endure with the quad.

Shrewsbury Regatta 2009 (Losing my novices)

Hoorah! I did it, I finally lost my novices, well for sculling anyway. At Shrewsbury Regatta on Saturday 9th May 2008 in the Novice Double Sculls event I finally did it 🙂

¼ Final

Our first race, the ¼ final, was against Rex BC (Miller/Wilson). During our paddle up to the start line the boat wasn’t sitting particularly well with quite a few worrying wobbles coming up to the catch. I was really nervous with it being my first race of the season, and also the first time I’d ever competed in a double. The race itself wasn’t much better than the paddle to the start if I’m honest. There were quite a few moments where we had very bad balance, it was a case of winning with brute strength rather than any finesse. If my memory serves me correctly, we started off pretty evenly for the first 10 strokes or so. After that we quickly gained a 2 length lead and held it there until near the finish line where we got caught up on one of the bouys and lost it altogether! We quickly regained our composure and after 3 or 4 strokes got back in to it. I put on as much power as I dared to get our lead back. During our “rest stop” our opposition gained a length on us, but as soon as we got back into our rhythm we started pulling away again. We finished about a 1½ lengths up.

  

Semi-Final

Our semi-final was against RGSAO WorcesterBC (Johnson/Middlebrough). A change of boat for this race, as our usual boat sustained some damage. So unfortunately, a slight delay for our opposition while were got our new boat set up. During the paddle up to the start the boat sat really well, I think in part due to the gates being higher and also to us having been on the water already. This was a really close race all the way, I think the lead changed hands a few times but we managed to come out on top by 3 feet at the finish line.

  

Final

Our opposition in the final was Guildford RC (Manton/Sadler). Same boat for this race, but a change of lane. I was nervous enough without that! This was now my 3rd final (including the 2 I got to during the Burton Regatta last year). So, I was very determined not to be labelled a “choker”. Since we were in the far lane now, we had the disadvantage of starting behind because of the stagger required to compensate for the bend in the river. Our plan was to keep it clean and smooth and to avoid “ragging” it. We stuck to our plan throughout the whole race. By the time we’d reached the bridge we’d reeled them in and were neck-and-neck. Because we’d gained the 2 length stagger gradually we were moving the boat well, so we just kept on doing what we were doing. Keeping it clean and smooth allows the boat to run quicker and also give us a bit of spare energy towards the finish. As we got to within 200 metres of the finish line, I could see our opponents pulling back, so I put a little bit more of a squeeze on the drive while still keeping it clean and we pulled away a little more. In the background I could here other members of Trent RC chanting …

Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …

Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony …

I couldn’t help but smile, so I must have been pretty relaxed. Anyway, we crossed the line 1/3 of a length ahead, so the pot was ours. Awesome! We were both completely exhausted, but still managed a hearty 3 cheers for our opposition who put up a good fight and gave us a really close race.

  

The Spoils

As you may (or may not) have noticed I wasn’t racing with Rob, as he has decided to quit rowing. A shame as he has a lot to offer the club in terms of teaching people how to row and how to improve their technique. He helped me immensly and I don’t think I would have won my novices without the one-on-one coaching he gave me.