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