Six of the Sons Mens Masters entered the Scullers Head this year. This has been one of the toughest events in the rowing calendar since it was rescheduled from April to December. The 2017 race was no exception. Early starters had little help from a slack flood tide over the course from the Mile Post to Chiswick Staithe. Later starters had to endure a numbingly cold wait before racing and were still showing the effects as they passed Sons. Congratulations to Mirko for finishing first and fastest of the Sons scullers in a time of 19m44s. And also to Pete, Greg, Dave, Tim and Bruno for rising to the challenge: four miles flat out in a single is very demanding both mentally and physically.
Seals have been visiting the Tideway since the river was cleaned up and oxygenated in the 1980s. This one was enjoying the sun on the sailors' pontoon on 17 November 2017.
Mirko, Dave, Tomaso and Pete retained the MMasA.4- pennant at the Veteran Fours Head, finishing fifth overall behind four quads. The crew has been short of training this year – too many weddings, too few ergos - but they looked good value for their win over opposition from Thames and Warsaw.
The race ran on the ebb tide as usual but finished at Ranelagh so as to avoid the tunnel works below Putney. No veterans were complaining about the shortened course: the Pairs Head finish at Harrods would have been quite sufficient for most of us. Racing conditions were excellent with early drizzle clearing before the race started and flat water apart from launch washes. The club entered six crews in all. The WMasA.4+ almost matched the MMasA.4- achievement but finished just 7 seconds off the pennant for their division. The older crews were outshone on this occasion by the youngsters but generally rowed or sculled well enough to enjoy the day.
The Learn to Row course graduates made their competitive debut at the Upper Thames Autumn Head in Henley on 29 October 2017. They were joined by some very special guests from the senior crews (ahem, ringers) who generously donated their time – and bodies – to ensure the newbies didn’t miss out on their first race.
Despite numerous head count and administrative challenges, when the men’s and women’s teams reached their respective starts they were fully focussed on completing the 3km in good time to show off what they’ve learnt since they first hit the water back in July. With no other Novice 8 teams participating this year, neither team was able to match the opposition times. However - both teams had a cracking day, learning so much and experiencing first-hand the satisfaction of racing other teams.
It’s safe to say that we’ve got the bug, and are now proudly showing off our aches, pains and blisters in preparation for the next opportunity to represent SONS in head competition.
Six Sons crews raced in the Pairs Head on 14 October, mostly in double sculls. Les and Brad were the fastest of our men in 14:54, Mel and Colleen were the fastest of our women in 16:40.
The race committee had unwisely decided to use the new performance ranking indicators to divide the entries into divisions. This cunning plan did not go well but nobody let that spoil the race. The water was pleasantly flat for the Tideway and a stiff tailwind helped the less fit to keep the rating up from Mortlake to Harrods. The Sons crews generally did well against those that they would regard as peers.
Eight of the mens masters squad travelled to Lake Bled to compete in the 2017 World Rowing Masters Regatta. (With help much appreciated from two TSS rowers, Hilary and a Thames cox.) Results were disappointing due to a combination of strong competition and unsuitable hired boats. That apart, the regatta was a fine experience with eight lane racing in a spectacularly good location and ample opportunities for socialising. It was a suitable finale to a long and demanding season for the mens masters.
What a fun day racing on the river Lea - clashes with blades and riverboats guaranteed.
Nine races, nine crews and four pots! A stellar effort from Sons to kick start the 2017/2018 season.
W.IM2.4x Ruth, Sanne, Coops, Jenny
Mx.MasC.2x Dave Smith and Coops (winner)
Mx.MasC.2x Drago and Darlings
MasD.1x Dave Smith (winner)
Senior Women's crews:
Mx.IM2.4+ Emily, Georgie, V, George, Darlings
W.IM3.4+ Emily, Georgie, V, Laura, Eleanor (winner)
W.IM2.2x Georgie and George
W.NOV.2x Darlings and V (winner)
W.NOV.2x Laura and Eleanor
Special mention to Eleanor taking home a pot in her first race with Sons, Dave Smith continuing his winning form in the single, and finally to Laura and her brownies which were a big hit after boat loading.
From all accounts the river racing over 600m was well worth the trip to N/E London. See you next Autumn, Lea!
Members turned out in force for a boat christening in honour of Colin Price, the club president. Colin rowed for Furnivall SC in the 1970s in a number of successful club crews. He moved to Sons in 1981 with a group from FSC and set about revitalising the club. Les, naming his double, shared a few anecdotes from those days and explained how important Colin's boundless energy and enthusiasm had been for him personally and the club as a whole. Mel had arranged a fine barbecue, the sun was shining, many old members had come along to reminisce, the Becky M was rechristened after refurbishment and a good time was had by all.
The first rule of the Voga Longa, is that no one puts in a write up about the Voga Longa. As a result we never really know what happens out there in Venice. The bare facts appear to be that five from our women's masters squad were invited last year, and liked it so much that they all went again in 2017. Guarded verbal accounts hint at a long distance tour of Venice in an atmosphere of aquatic carnival. Specific details, detailing a group rendition of the song from the Cornetto ad, for example, have not been supplied, leading us to conclude that what happens in Venice stays in Venice. In fact, pretty much all we have is this photo.
When Henley Royal Regatta comes to an end, the booms stay out a little longer for the increasingly well-attended masters' event which uses a shortened course of around 1000 meters. With no doubling up allowed, Sons of the Thames Rowing Club put out a quad in MasE4x, Stephen replacing Ed in the line up that lost in the final last year to a Howarth/Hollingworth Lake Composite. After a bye in the first round, Stephen, Les, Brad and Bruce came up against Norwich Rowing Club whose crew included Audinis, the current national champion at Mas E 1x. Our quartet sculled tidily and sustained a split time of around 1:50 per 500m, but Norwich went faster with a final verdict to them of three lengths. The Hammersmith crew took some comfort to see that Norwich beat Peterborough in the final by a greater margin of five lengths.
Henley Masters seems to have been an enjoyable regatta though. As Les comments, "The 1000m boomed course from Temple Island to Upper Thames is excellent. The sun was shining this year, the wind was barely stirring the trees and the water was good."
All Sons of the Thames crews reached their finals at the British Masters on 10 June, Brad and Tim taking bronze in MasE.2x. This was a great result for Tim who joined the club late last year, sculling right over left which is how he learnt as a boy. He adapted to the more conventional left over right pattern surprisingly quickly and paired well with Brad who currently holds the Mas E 2x Pennant in the Pairs Head.
A strong and gusty cross-head wind made conditions difficult at Holme Pierrepont and impaired the quality of racing. The wind shadow in lane 1 was worth a five year age handicap in masters rowing terms. All four Sons crews progressed serenely through the elimination rounds despite the conditions. Brad and Tim sculled with length and power in the final of MasE.2x and looked good value for their bronze medal in a strong field. The MasA.2x, MasE.4x and MasC.4x raced respectably in their finals but fell short of the medal positions. Mirko and Tommy endured particularly bad luck with lane allocations and had the misfortune to be fourth placed in two events.
The veterans won MasE/F quadruple sculls in bank holiday sunshine at Twickenham, with only Dave remaining from the combination that won the same event in 2016. The regatta will be remembered mainly for the unusually high tide that flooded the trailer park and boating area in late afternoon. The jazz band played on as the water rose in the enclosure, the umpires continued to shout into their megaphones, the crews continued to race. Bruce, Andrew, Les and David had secured their quad win before the excitement with two age handicap races, reeling in MasF opposition. The MasE double scull and Mxd MasE double scull were both knocked out by eventual winners Bewl Bridge. All in all a good day for the Sons of the Thames Rowing Club veterans.
Brad and Les won MasE.2x at Borne at Chiswick Regatta on 6 May. The regatta ran smoothly despite a stiff crosswind, a credit to officials who were both competent and remarkably relaxed. Perhaps they spike the umpires' tea at the morning briefing? The race itself was uneventful: the TSS and Ardingly doubles sculled tidily but conditions suited the big Sons crew.
Les was too modest to mention that the winning margin was three lengths. Some might have expected no less of the Pennant holders in MasE2x in the Pairs Head of the River Race, but expectation can weigh a boat down. Ed
Wallingford Mens 4- Challenge: great to race at Eton Dorney, however wind did not cooperate, so race program shortened with only a time trial. Sons of the Thames Rowing Club were also represented by the senior women who won a heat before the event went to time trials.
Sons vets squad is always keen to compete at the local early season regattas, as preparation for the GB Masters Championships in June, but often we find we have no opposition to take on (or perhaps they're just too scared to enter...). This was the case at Hammersmith Regatta this year, but we tried again at Chiswick Regatta: I even entered three events, despite the rule allowing a maximum of two events per competitor, in an attempt to get some racing. Sure enough, there was no opposition for us in the quad, but happily I did have races in the double and the single.
The single was up first: my opponent in a straight final at Masters D was Bridger from Tideway Scullers. I looked up past Scullers Head results (as you do), and discovered that Mr Bridger was consistently 15 to 20 seconds faster than me over the Scullers Head course. However, 1000m is very different from 7000m, my training and fitness have been going well, and I have a nice new boat and a fast start, so I thought I might have a chance. My main concern was my first stroke: it is very hit and miss, particularly in a tail wind, and I didn't want to end up like the Oxford women in the Boat Race... However, I managed not to fluff it too badly, and stormed off at 42 strokes per minute, settling to a powerful 34. To my surprise I was about half a length ahead off the start, and was able to keep the power on effectively with my legs through 40 strokes, 50 strokes, 60 strokes. I always like to count strokes as it keeps my mind off the pain, and tells me fairly accurately how far through the race I am! I knew the race would be about 120 strokes, and I found I was gaining more ground on Mr Bridger. I got to 2 lengths ahead, and my legs and lungs were starting to burn, so at about 90 strokes I eased off a little in case I needed to save something for the end of the race, but I was in control by now, and cruised through to the finish maintaining my 2 length lead.
Result! Any win is good, but it was satisfying to feel that my training programme has been working: I was pleased to be able to maintain my form over the full 1000m.
Later in the day was the Masters E double, with Bruce steering and me stroking. This time we were in a 3-boat straight final, against Tideway Scullers again, and a Hillingdon/Bentham composite. Racing three abreast on the Tideway is inherently unfair, as the crew in the middle clearly has the advantage of the stream, but we just had to accept being on the Middlesex station. We went flying off the start at over 40 again, and with a tailwind we settled at 36. This was perhaps a little high: we had adjusted the gearing on our blades one notch anyway because of the tailwind, and maybe we needed even heavier gearing. In any case, we were working hard, but not winning this one off the start. The three crews were battling side by side for most of the race, with the expected umpire's warnings, and we were just preparing ourselves to push on and try and edge ahead when we got a stern umpire's warning and had to steer hard to get back on the right line. That cost us a bit of momentum, and we ran out of time to claw it back, eventually losing by three-quarters of a length to TSS, who beat the other crew by only a foot.
Still, one nice shiny pot to show for the day's efforts was a good return as far as I was concerned, and gives me confidence for the upcoming season.
Well done on your win Dave, and thanks for supplying some words to feed the Google beast. Ed
A brisk wind threw up an awkward chop for Hammersmith Amateur Regatta, but not nearly so bad as the sea-like conditions of the 2016 event. Sons of the Thames entrants included a WIM3 8, a WIM3 4+, two IM3 1x, one 1M3 2x, and a NM4+.
Our Masters entries were rejected - leading to a private match between our MasE 4- and a Thames Trademen's crew. The crews scored a win each, but factor in the age bonus for E v D and we reckon victory was ours.
Back at the regatta, our WIM3 4+ opened the batting for Sons with an easy victory over Team Keene. Pete then had a dead heat with a Furnivall sculler in IM3 1x. Anyone who's heard the dreaded single klaxon blast at the finish of a close singles race (er... me, for example) will recognise how the adrenalin rush of an imminent re-row curdles with burned-out muscles to produce a uniquely unpleasant sensation. So all credit to Pete for winning the re-row "easily". Although that may not have been the adverb he would have selected while racing down the course.
Next up, our novice four were unlucky to get an AK crew that looked to be of IM3 standard and it was no surprise to see the green and purples win the event. None-the-less, it felt good to see our guys, who've been rowing less than a year, giving it everything and managing well in choppy conditions. As they continue to improve, their day will come. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that the style of wearing the AIO backwards does not catch on.
Immediately afterwards we saw a ferociously competitive race between our IM3 2x and a Vesta crew. The verdict was 3/4 of a length to Sons of the Thames, but as the boats passed under Hammersmith Bridge, it looked closer.
Completing an excellent pre-lunch sequence our WIM3 8+ crew cruised away from a Furnivall unit to win by many lengths.
Mirko then lost to a Thames sculler in his single, and after the very hard race in the double a little earlier who can blame him? After his re-row, Pete may have been less than fresh, going out to another Thames sculler in IM3 1x.
The WIM3 B 4+ then got us back to winning ways with an emphatic victory over Kings College BC. Come the final, they scored an easy win over Team Keane to win the event. With the women's eight also winning - by three lengths over Putney Town - it was a good day for the club. The women's squad seem to be entering the regatta season with the best form in some years. So well done to all of them.
After the cancellation of the HORR the day before, Sunday 26th March turned out nice. With the race on the flood tide, we assembled below Harrods Depository with enough glare to wonder where last season's sun cream had got to.
In long-established tradition, our Mas D crew hadn't had a single practice outing, and this time it showed. We were chased all the way down the course by a Bewl Bridge crew who gained through our rough patches. Keeping them just astern was all we could do. A result of 15th in category and 83rd overall was no worse than we deserved.
Other Sons crews included our W.MasA women who raced to a respectable 4th position in a category that included a very quick Agecroft crew. And in W.MasC, some technically accomplished rowers who don't all have time for serious fitness training, finished 9th in category.
So no bright honours to shout about, but an enjoyable day out on the river. And with higher wind speeds forcing more frequent cancellations of Tideway head races, it felt good to be able to participate in a big race in our own back yard.
Women are already well represented in rowing, and that looks set to increase. Next Olympics there will be an equal number of events for women; positive implications for women's rowing in the US, and perhaps globally, stem from Title IX; and in a week or two we'll be seeing women in the Boat Race again. Certainly, at Sons, the women have a strong, active squad, so a good backdrop to the Women's Head of the River Race 2017. That and a summery kind of day in early spring.
Starting at 54, the crew had to contend with the Cambridge University B storming up from behind them early in the race. Presumably, this crew was full of rowers making a claim for the Blue Boat and weren't there to make up the numbers. A finish at 114, and under 21 minutes, for our girls, was a decent result that reflects continued work over the winter months. It's good to see the core of last year's Henley crew still racing, and some new faces as well. Last comment, as a weary crew paddled back from Putney, goes to Step: #thesegirlscanbutnowtheyreabittiredthanksverymuch.
There's only annual race that gets the whole club involved, and that's the Dewar Shield. Sunday, 12th February saw all of our six eights on the water racing on the flood tide from Hammersmith to Mortlake. A resurgent Auriol and Kensington won the shield last year, and they were always going to be hard to beat. Their mens' Henley crew of 2016 seem to have retired from competitive racing, but returned as a formidable "vets" crew. Our own vets squad was missing four regulars through absence and injury but still managed to put out a crew that finished sixth in 11.41 - as against the day's fastest time of 11.12 set by Sons M1. M3 crewed by novices from our learn to row course, posted a respectable 12.28 in ninth place.
Amongst the women's crews, Furnivall posted the fastest time of 11.52, emphasising their traditional strength in women's rowing. AK were close behind with 12.00 but Sons crews took third, fourth and seventh places showing strength in depth.
The result, announced by Colin in an absurdly packed Linden House bar was, AK: 27, Sons: 25 and FSC 22. It's been noted that if scored using the established system for this event, the result was even closer - AK 45, Sons 44 and FSC 39. So not a bad result - just one place better for one crew could have won us the competition.
Big thanks are due to the volunteers from all three clubs that made the event possible, particularly Mel as host club organiser.
Mirko, Dave, Tomaso and Pete won their pennant at the Veteran Fours Head, holding off strong opposition from City of Cambridge and Las Vegas Institute of Sport. It was a fine day for a head race, sunny with just enough breeze over the flood tide to bother those unaccustomed to the Tideway. Six Sons crews got to the start line despite boat damage, work pressure and crew illness. (Thanks to Anna for subbing in as a launch driver at the last minute.) The sculling crews all avoided humiliation and the sweep crews raced well: the WMasC4+ were 3rd in their division, the MMasC4- 2nd and the MMasA4- 1st.