On Sunday last the veteran men’s eight of Sudbury Rowing Club set off for London to take part in the Veterans Head of the River Race.
This annual race is run on the Thames over the famous Boat Race course, in reverse, and attracts the very best crews from across the country and around the world. This year over 260 crews took part from across Europe and even the United States. From this country Olympic medallists, Boat Race veterans and national champions mixed it with club rowers and even those who have recently started rowing. It is a chance for rowers to meet old friends, make new ones and challenge themselves on the biggest stage.
The Sudbury crew consisting of Andrew Blit, Mike Arnott, Adrian Ablitt, Pete Donovan, Tim Hysom, Stephen Nichols, Paul Adams and Lee Adams, coxed by Helen Sharp, very largely home-grown talent trained on the Stour, started at the head of their age category – leading off 32 crews. For the race there was a firm, cold headwind kicking the Thames up into choppy, lumpy waves quite unlike the river at home.
Stroked with purpose and determination by Lee the crew blasted off under Chiswick Bridge into the toughest of the conditions with Tideway Scullers (London) in hot pursuit. The race between the two crews lasted all the way round the long bend and up the following straight with crews and coxes trading stroke for stroke. Later in the race the Sudbury crew also encountered a crew allegedly stroked by one of the Gold Medallists from the Barcelona Games and a huge crew from Marin County, California who forced their way past opposite Fulham football ground.
Sudbury’s time was enough for 16th out of 32 in their category and the crew were 88th out of 262 crews in the entire race, not quite as good as last year but a brave effort considering the alien conditions.
Next year, even better….