Masters National Championships - Nottingham - 12 June 2011

I thought we would be prepared for the Nat Champs this year, but we were not. Some of my best laid plans had come off the rails running up to the Regatta season: the novices redistributed themselves into mutually acceptable sub squads (ha - spot the management consultant); and the Vet E squad never really materialised. Only the vet Ds and small boat versions kept the faith except for notable except of one Henry Abraham (who will naturally get a whole blog devoted to him).

It took an extraordinary amount of blood, sweat, tears, lies, deception, sleight of hand and every trick I had in the book to reform the squads into what I had hoped and planned for 12 months ago.

So we brought to the eternally raining, cold and squally Champs, 8 crews:

Open D 8+
IM3 E 8+
Novice 8+
IM3 C 8+
IM3 E 4+
Novice 4+
Open F2x
Open F1x

In summary: we fought valiantly at Open, did rather well at IM3 and dragged defeat from the wide open and willing jaws of victory at Novice.

Open Events

The Vet D 8+ prep had been excellent all winter, and now ajudged as being grown up to play with adult toys (just), they got to use the club's shiny best boat - the Ray Long. Now we know why the seniors had been holding out on us: the Filippi is a lovely boat - it makes us look good. The seniors' reluctance was clear as the stretchers had been welded into their favourite positions, but we have a few engineers in our ranks and there is nothing that a blowtorch can't undo...

Adrenalin pushed us up to the dizzy heights of a 37 striding pace in the Heat which saw us just beat Bedford Star and Runcorn, but we were some 2 lengths behind a rather scary Quintin crew. We were exhausted. Gosh, the big boys play rough.

The potents were ominous as the much fancied Thames RC crew (who beat us by a length at Twickenham) came LAST in their Heat, and sure enough we trailed 5th in the Final (again just beating Runcorn) but only a length or so behind Broxbourne, Peterborough and a scary Warwick composite with 3 other clubs and a further 2 lengths behind Quintin.

And as it so often happens in Masters rowing, we came off the water with broad smiles as we knew we had done ourselves and the club much credit.

Robin and Tony in the vet F2x and Tony in the Vet F1x just came across very, very strong opposition whom they could not break. Masters Open at the Nat Champs is not for the faint of heart.

IM3 Events

The Vet I3 E 8+ was a scratch crew. There was much debate (some of it heated) as to whether it should race. The core of the Vet Es (the E 4+) had only recently reformed as a crew, and were going to the Champs to defend their title. It was argued that we could beef it up with some brawn from the Vet Ds and Novices, and that engine room would help redress the balance.

The plan almost worked, but they were beaten by a canvas by a Bedford Star crew, who had obviously been well drilled. Such is the difference between scratch and trained.

The Vet IM3 E 4+ then went on to defend their crown, but they are not ready yet (as John Clayton has told me many times in a few days), and lost by a couple of lengths.

The Vet IM3 C 4+, Graeme, Steve, Gerraint and Olly, who had won at our Small Boats Head and Twickenham were favourites in my mind, but not in theirs.
This is their second year together as a crew, and it shows. They are winning at Open events, so why not IM3 was my argument, and so it was that they handsomely beat Derby and Milton Keynes by two lengths in their 3 horse final to become National Champions!!

Hoorah and Huzzah!!

Their cox, Daniella, has won 3 trophies on the bounce in her first year, and is a Nat Champ to boot! Check out the big grin.

Novice Events

Having given the novices some major counselling and therapy sessions, I finally got them to reform into an Eight. All was not quite rosy, with Patrick deciding he would rather eat unwashed salads and ice formed from sewers in India rather than risk it in the Eight; and Marc and Trevor deciding that they would rather watch paint dry that day. So I drafted in a couple of ringers: Simon "no pots" de Maria, who somehow hasn't lost his cherry yet, and Dave "yet another one who claims to have rowed at Oxford" Emmanuel.

After a couple of "interesting" pre-race outings, the crew eagerly sought the coaches thoughts on where to improve. Somehow they swallowed the line: "look there's no hope chaps - you are just going to have to Beast it."

And Beast it they did - well seven and a half of them, as Spencer came off and mangled his seat at the Start. Somehow they kept ahead of their opposition (Walton) all the way to the finish, just being pipped in the last couple of strokes of the race. It was gutting to watch and they were totally gutted.



Finally, the lightweight Novice Four (Darren, Dave Prentice, Spencer and Jez and coxed by Andrea), had a chance to lose their cherry in their 2 horse race. By the halfway mark they were well up on Monmouth, and the coach was already typing a lengthy and overdramatic write up, when Dave P crabbed as only a Novice can, stopped the boat completely and a grateful Monmouth swanned by to win.

Ugh. Well chaps, as one of their number said... "s**t happens."

Big thanks to all 22 rowers, 3 coxes (including Tim who provided the whole squad with much amusement on the way up) and Thor for the pics. In a funny way, I think we all enjoyed it, despite the really, really awful weather.

ps - James won in a composite Medway/Monmouthian Vet Open B 4x. Well done youngster, try rowing for us once in a while.

Sue & Roger Mobbs Rowing Tour of Japan

Sue & Roger are currently on a month long FISA rowing tour of Japan.

Check out the first Video here:

Twickenham Regatta - 2011

6 crews from the Veteran and the Women squads and a token Senior when to Twickenham for their first regatta of the year.

Despite the course being slightly longer than what we are used to (1.25k), the decided advantage of the Middlesex bend which only one of our crews benefitted from, and the plethora of big name London clubs to compete against; we got stuck in with elan.

The ladies had 3 races: an IM3 4x, a Vet 4x and a Novice 4+, and 6 rowers...  Lots of complicated doubling up and exhausted oarswomen.  Nary a heat was won, but I am told that the Novice 4+ was a close affair, and we now have a starting point for the squad which has come out of the doldrums.

The Vet D Eight, comprehensively beat Twickenham in the heat.  At the finish, they wished us luck in a very wry fashion for our final against Thames RC (as in: "you don't stand a chance").  The core of this crew came 6th out of 204 at the Head of the River (we came 61st).  So we were actually reasonably satisfied with our 1.25 length loss. holding them off for much of the race until we entered the unfamiliar territory of >1k, and their superior fitness/training/whatever kicked in.

The Vet C 4+ had a bye to the final, and met Itchen (yeah, I've never heard of them either), who had beaten Lea in the heat.  Itchen were Vet B, so our lads had a 6 second head start which was totally squandered as the stroke man crabbed on the the first draw.  It took many strokes to get back into rythmn, and the comment "this is a bl**dy disaster," was heard from somewhere near the bows.

Still, they are strong (if elderly) Vet C crew, the engine room of the Vet D 8 and have rowed together for 2 years.  It showed and they cruised to a 2 length victory. 


Well done to Graeme Hodgkinson, Gerraint Evans, Steve Bickers, Olly Barton, and cox, Daniella James (in her first ever Regatta).  Unfortunately, in all the hurly burly, no-one thought to take any pictures!

Finally, Lewin (our solitary Senior) took part in a 3 heat Novice 1x event, and found out how difficult it is.  He got through to final beating his opponents from Oxford Academicals and Auriol Kensington easily, before submitting easily to a sculler from... Tideway Scullers.  Well done, at least that oppo won't bother you no more!

Next Stop.  The Veteran Nat Champs in Nottingham.