I will try not to bore you with an overabundance of detail, but we got through a lot of racing over the two days.
The conditions overall were ideal (pace a touch of rain early Saturday). The important thing was a nice tail wind, which strengthened over the day (both days). It suited the technically adept, and helped us to a couple of remarkable results.
Due to holidays, few of our juniors were able to compete, the majority of the entries coming from the masters squad. Nevertheless, Josh Rhodes (despite being somewhat under the weather with a bad throat) contested J13 singles against Dan Glover of Stourport on both days. On form, Josh is a close match for Dan, but it was not to be. To make things worse, Josh drew Dan in both his first rounds, giving Dan his closest racing of both days, but not close enough, alas. A similar fate awaited Gracie Green in W.J13 singles, who also raced both days, and also drew her own nemesis (Molly Clarke...of Stourport) in both of her first rounds. Molly beat all her opponents over the weekend easily, and Gracie was no exception.
The remaining juniors raced only on Sunday: Milly Payne (J16 singles) lost her bye to the final by three lengths (closer than the last time she met that opponent – but not much consolation), and David Phillips won his straight final in J12 (racing a female opponent, it must be said, but she was a more experienced racer, and after a bad start David had to exert himself and scull well to win by 2.5 lengths). This was a first win for David, and a significant one for the club, as it was the win that broke our last year’s record (more later).
The senior squad was represented on Saturday by Rob Thornton (Vice Captain) in IM3 singles. Rob won his first round easily, and then produced a cracking row in the final. His oppo was a younger, larger chap from Quintin (a tideway club that traditionally comes to Stourport for a bit of fun). Rob was led off the start, but realised his oppo wasn’t getting away. He pegged him back steadily (bless the tailwind), and for the first time discovered an ability to sprint at the finish, giving him a one length verdict. A splendid farewell to IM3, a classification that has dogged Rob for several years now, and a race to be remembered.
Seniors on Sunday were the Payne sisters. Sophie and Milly raced in IM1 doubles, losing by half a length in the first round to the eventual winners (the Paynes ran them closer than the final – verdict one length). Sophie also raced in SEN (senior) singles (a quick lesson in senior class divisions: Novice; IM3; IM2; IM1; SEN; ELI – this last is elite – so Sophie is getting up there for class). Alas, Sophie’s oppo from Pengwern was pretty hot, and beat her by four lengths.
This leaves the masters, most of whom raced the same events both days. Gillian and Stuart continued their run of victories in the mixed E double, winning both days, as did Gillian Harriet and Sue, rowing in a composite C eight with Loughborough. The three added Emily Quinton (of Loughborough) to make a C four which raced both days, losing by a third of a length to Bewdley on Saturday, and winning by three feet against Worcester on Sunday. The men’s four fared similarly, beating Worcester on Saturday by a length and a half, and losing to Hereford one and a quarter the next day.
I raced both days in masters singles, on Saturday racing as E, and on Sunday as D. After the wins I had in F’s at Bewdley (too easy), I decided to up the ante, and enter lower age groups. So Saturday I had a straight final with McMahon of Grosvenor, a fellow F, but as I had entered as E he was given a nine second lead (over 1100 metres). I caught him up. On Sunday my heat was against Barnett of Stourport, a D, so we started level, and I won by two lengths. The final was against a C (Kirby of Burton Leander), so I was given four seconds head start, which I sorely needed. He gained on me steadily thoughout, but I held him off to win by four feet. The best race I’ve had in the single since losing to Rob by a foot in the 2014 Closing Races.
As it happens, I appear to have dodged a bullet not entering F’s. I persuaded Graham to enter in his single for a lark, but he did not have much fun. He lost his heat to Vick from Liverpool, who was then trounced by Mitchell, an E rowing for Wycliffe College. Research threw up a win by this chap at Henley Town and Visors Regatta in IM1 singles five years ago (he would have been a D then). So he’s pretty quick.
And finally, Graham and I raced the double as E, and beat a D double from Upton (we took the head start, and subsequently wished we hadn’t – they never came back at us).
So eleven wins total, and Gillian (once again) lead the field, taking home five pots for the weekend’s work.