Sons has traditionally been a small club with an 'include all' philosophy. Much of the competitive men's and women's squad crews coming through our annual 'Learn to Row', run by Andrew Maunder.
2012 was an unprecedented year - successes by Team GB in the rowing events, created huge interest from individuals wanting to learn how to row. As a result, Sons ran two courses to meet the demand. 2013 was also feeling the effects of the Olympic legacy, prompting Sons again to run two courses, something we'd never done before.
We were delighted when we were invited to put a squad forward, comprising our 2012 and 2013 learn to row members, to compete in the All-Party Parliamentary Rowing Group (APPRG) boat race. The race has been going for some years, but previously the entry was restricted to a few Putney clubs and some juniors. This year the invitation was extended to all the local clubs to submit crews comprising of development crews inspired by the Olympics.
Sons entry was accepted and our eight was drawn against London Rowing Club. The crew was to comprise of four members from the 2012 Learn to Row course, and four from the 2013 Learn to Row course, with Peter Horton coxing.
However, as with all events, there was added drama: One of the crew from the 2012 course was unable to row, and Ben's partner who was due some weeks after 12th June gave birth several weeks earlier. Luckily we were able to line up subs to fill their seats.
Due to the 2012 and 2013 intakes being in different coaching squads, there were limited opportunities to train together as the racing crew. In the end we managed the Sunday before race day, with a pre-race outing before rowing the boat to the trailer for towing to Vauxhall.
The boat was rigged down a back street, with the crew carrying it under a railway bridge and stopping four lanes of traffic to launch on a commercial slipway alongside MI6. The race course was between Tate Britain and Millbank Tower, a stretch of river none of the crew had rowed on before, which is renowned for being difficult due to commercial traffic.
When it was Sons turn to race, the crew lined up against London Rowing Club. The crew got a very good start despite the taxing conditions and were immediately half a length up, allowing the crew to relax and enjoy the rowing.
They remained calm when they hit rough water passing under Lambeth Bridge, coping well with the conditions, and were eventually able to win the race.
he crew span and landed on the specially constructed pontoon by the House of Lords, where they enjoyed a champagne reception and afternoon tea on the House of Lords terrace - in very wet rowing kit...
After the medal presentations, the Sons' 8+ boated and rowed back to the club, taking advantage of the glorious weather.
This was a phenomenal opportunity for the club, and greatly enjoyed by all who took part. The success and strength of the Learn to Row courses lies with Andrew Maunder, who has been running them for several years.