Today saw the inaugural showing of the SRC Spring Head to Head and Sprint races. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that the members descended on the clubhouse at 7.30 to debate over the draw and harass the draw-master in order to lodge their requests for changes!
The crews started to boat at 8.00 for the first division which was run in normal SRC Head to Head style over 2500m, including a quick spin at the weir end of the river. Marshalls were placed at strategic locations along the river in order to keep an eye on any wandering steering and timekeepers were drafted in to provide each crew with their results. A few last minute crew and cox changes were made and the crews were keen to get racing.
Suitably shattered but elated the crews returned to the clubhouse to refuel with tea, coffee, burgers, hotdogs, bacon rolls and cake (this is a healthy sport honest!) and soon the times and video footage were available for scrutiny.
All too soon it was time for division 2 of the day, this time the races would run over our regatta course of 650m with a free start. The marshalls and umpires were on hand to ensure the stagger and any starting advantage were fair to the crews and our umpire in training (Woody) got a taste of what is too come in August when we run this again for real!
For most of our juniors and novice rowers, this was their first experience of a sprint racing start with another crew alongside them. The concentration could be seen on everyone’s faces as they were called forward to row and the umpire called “Ready?….Attention…. Go!”
There were no Oxford & Cambridge blade clashes but the rivalry between the novice mens four and novice ladies four saw the men head towards the bank in their first 10 strokes, only to chase down the ladies and beat them on the line. Our novice coxes also showed their competence and control over their crews. Even the one or two trips into the banks did not phase them and they pushed their crews all the way to the line.
On returning to the clubhouse there was time for more food and video watching, some crews taking advantage of this to plan their race in the next division. All too soon it was time to find the blades and hit the water once more. Division 3 start time was delayed by equipment malfunction in the junior boys quad, but once fixed the boats came down the meadow in quick succession.
The day resulted in smiles all round (and not a capsize in sight!), we fielded a range of crews in combinations new and old and for many this was their first race – lets hope this experience has shown them what could be in store over the summer and their next races will result in some silverware!