Bewdley Regatta – Saturday and Sunday 23rd & 24th July 2016

The gap in our regatta schedule caused by the cancellation of the Burton weekend (soggy regatta field) was filled by Bewdley, which took place two weeks later.  Bewdley lived up to it’s reputaion for barely controlled chaos (I was told off by a competing coach for turning up at boat pairing on time, but without checking that our opposition was ready to boat – the regatta organisation leaves it up to individual crews to organise their races, and no one is ever disqualified for being late on the start.)  That said, once one actually got on the water to race, the standard of competition was very high, particulary in the junior events.

And so to the first day: In W.J13 singles Gracie Green went out for her first race and lost to one Molly Clark of Stourport, who defeated Gracie without much trouble (although Gracie was undaunted, her first words on coming back to the dock being “I want to do that again!”).  Ms. Clark later went on to win the final against our Lucy James (who had been given a bye) in much the same fashion, alas.

Other first round dismissals included Milly Payne (J16 singles), Tom Ellershaw and Joe Leckie (J15 doubles),and Ethan Campbell-O’Connor (J14 singles).  The one ray of light was Josh Rhodes, who won his straight final of J13 singles without much trouble.

In senior events honours were a bit more even, with James Doleman losing his straight final of Elite singles (by a foot! as I understand – and please note this was the only Elite event of either day), but Sophie Payne winning her straight final of IM1 singles by a good margin (well done Sophie).

In the Masters events we fared better, with only the men’s C four (Paul Beaman, Gary Beviss, Dan Levy, Stuart Grant and Nick Pritchard as cox) going out in their first round, but then Gillian Lockhart and Stuart (again) won both heat and final of the mixed E doubles, and I won a straight final of F singles.  This left us with four wins for the day’s work.

On Sunday:  Another tough day for the juniors, with a long series of first round losses: Will Doleman (J14 singles), Josh Rhodes (J13 singles), Lucy James (J13 singles), Kate Doleman (J17 singles), Tom and Joe (J15 doubles), Milly Payne (J16 singles), Josh and Will (J14 doubles), and Beth Rowbottom (J13 singles).  It should noted that although this was Beth’s first race, she was not far behind and looked like she belonged in the competition – a good showing.  Jack Hobbs, also racing for the first time, got through his first round by dint of the other chap not showing up (off poorly), and then won his semi final (well done!).  Alas, he then met the chap who had beaten Josh in the first round (another good junior from Stourport), but Jack sculled well to the finish and did not disgrace us.  Another first timer was David Phillips, who had to hang around for ages (see regatta organisation note above) for his straight final in J12 singles.  He sculled well, but lost to a lad from Ross, who had just won a straight final as stroke of a J13 quad (Juniors are allowed to race up a year).  So well done David, no shame in losing that one, again, like Beth, not a by a large margin.  To finish the roll call of firsts (and lasts, alas), we had the first appearance of the women’s J13 quad (Hannah Munns, Elli Meynell, Gracie Green, Poppy Brown, and Jack Hobbs cox) who lost a straight final to a very experienced crew (four wins this season?) from, you guessed it, Stourport.  Despite a scrambled start, the verdict was only a length and a half, which was very good going for a first time out.  We hope for more to come from this group.

So not much joy in Mudville in the junior section, who I think were put out of rhythmn by the Burton cancellation.  But a lot of good experience gained, and grounds for much hope in the future.

In the status events (i.e. Senior) we had three entries: Sophie and Milly in IM2 doubles, who lost their straight final to a more experienced double by two lengths, and then stonking straight final in mixed IM2 doubles with James and Kate (verdict half a length – a tough row, James splashing water about after the finish in celebration), and then James produced a quite stunning turnaround in a replay of Elite singles, soundly beating the chap from the previous day (Penny of Ross), and hereby hangs a tale.  As with all the Dolemans, James has his own blades, but unlike the others his blades do not bear the name ‘Doleman’ in large letters on the shaft, neither are they painted in club colours.  So when it came time to boat, he was unable to locate his blades among the sevety-odd sets on display at the dock.  Taking his sister’s blades (which he could identify), he sculled up to the start line, despite the blades not being correctly rigged for him.  Here is where it gets heroic.  His father (Paul), locates James’ blades, runs with them up to the start (Sunday is a short course, thank goodness), and wades into the river to exchange blades.  And then James wins! (more splashing)  Soon to be a Major Motion Picture!  

And finally, to the Masters section: Gillian and Stuart won heat and final (again) in the mixed double; then Gillian (again), Harriet Buckle, Sue Cope, and Emily Quinton (a chum from Loughborough), and Nick Pritchard as cox won heat and final in C fours; and I won the F singles (again).

So five wins from Sunday, and over the weekend a total of nine.  It should be noted that Gillian led the medal table with three, then James, Stuart and I with two each.  It would be nice to see the wins spread out a bit more, but that is a minor complaint.

It spotted with rain on the Sunday, but the weather overall was good.  If anything, Saturday was too hot, and the loan of the pop-up gazebo by Rob (who was unable to be present) was heaven sent.  I must mention the sterling work done by Paul Beaman (who rode shotgun with me on the Saturday trailer run down, and then spent the day helping folk on and off the water) and the same efforts over the two days by Vice Captain Sophie Payne, and the invaluable help by the many parents (particularly with the quad).  To quote the Bard: “for all our Thankes.”

Yours,   Lewis