On Sunday a large contingent from Sudbury RC made the expedition to Bedford Quarts Regatta on Sunday. This is a regular highlight of our calendar as the racing is always intense and the prizes, if they can be won, are engraved two pint pots, double the size of any others. It was good to see a wider range of athletes from the Club attending than earlier in the year and with plenty of positive racing there was much to enjoy.
The races are run in the heart of the town from the old iron bridge to the front of Bedford Rowing Club. It was a breezy day with the wind getting quite strong in the afternoon, with crews racing on the far, Embankment, side being particularly affected by strong gusts of headwind.
First out of the blocks was a newly formed womens crew of Beth Williams, Emily Hooton, Julie Cox, Helen Taylor and Louisa Hayes. The girls are forming a self-contained unit in which 4 of them row and one of them coxes, racing in the Club’s newest coxed four, the Ken Mills. As this was their first event they travelled more in hope than in expectation and it was all the more encouraging to see them row so well in the first round at Novice, with Taylor coxing, and beat their rivals from City of Cambridge. Their second round opponents proved stronger but the Sudbury girls were by no means off the pace. The ladies also raced at Senior 4 also, with Hayes in the cox’s seat. Being a step up in class this was always going to prove more difficult, but to their credit the Sudbury crew were heading their opponents from St Neots at half way before lack of experience told in the end. A very honorable start to their season.
With far more experience Jenny Spencer and Paul Hamblett, competing respectively at Womens Senior 4 and Mens Novice single sculls, were there to win. Spencer had flown back from a school trip to Strasbourg the night before but, despite weariness, was comfortable in charge of the early rounds of her event. Unfortunately, in the final she found her opponent, who had made the long trip from Shoreham, just too strong, losing by 1 3/4 lengths.
For Hamblett this was the One to Win: the event he had been aiming for all Spring. Having cruised through the earlier rounds he was particularly unfortunate to be drawn on the Embankment station at the height of the afternoon gale. Having been quite a long way down with 150 metres to go Hamblett raised his rate of striking again and again but could not quite get his nose in front, the final verdict being three feet between the two scullers – the closest of the day. A great disappointment for Paul, but surely he will go on and win big elsewhere this summer.
Also single sculling was Sue Tickner. Tickner has put in a lot of hard work on home water and, racing at Womens Junior 16 was completely in her element. In her semi final she beat a competitor from the elite Rob Roy club in Cambridge but was unlucky, again in the outside lane, to lose by 1 1/2 lengths in the final
Spencer and Tickner joined forces to race Womens Junior 16 double sculls. In the final they were pitted against two girls from Staines Boat Club, but in the outside, windier, lane. Having gone off hard and fast the Staines girls continued to attack the Sudbury crew but Tickner and Spencer held on to win another nail-biter by 1/2 L. More pots for the girls’ collection, and big ones!
Tickner also raced with Hamblett at Mixed Senior three double sculls. Having won in this combination earlier in the year the prospect of racing a much older double from the home club, Bedford, held no fears. After an even start the aggressive all-action style of the Sudbury scullers wore down the more relaxed looking Bedford crew going on to win their event by a relative comfortable 1 L. It was good to see Paul get something out of his long day.
Finally we come to Sudbury RC’s biggest boat of the day, the Mens 8. The Club fielded two combinations for this event. At Senior 3 the crew was John Myers, Keith Paxman, Paul Sant, John Brooks, Rob Snelling, David Bull, Andrew Blit and Sam Hogsbjerg, coxed by Tickner and at the lower status of Senior 4 Sant, Brooks, Will Wijnberg, Myers, Snelling, Paxman, Blit and Bull coxed by Spencer.
The Senior 3 eight semi was a matter of drama. It was hard for 8s, being 20 metres long, to stay straight in the wind and the Umpire unfortunately started the race between Sudbury and a crew from Cantabrigians RC with the boats pointing towards each other. Inevitably, after four strokes the crews came together amidst much clashing of blades. Although the boats did pull apart the Umpire had decided to stop the race, though this message did not get through to the rowers who carried on to race the entire distance only to find that they had to go back and do it all again. The second start was clean and the race hard with Cantabrigians on the inside making the most of the relatively sheltered water to win by 3/4 L over a disappointed Sudbury crew.
The men, therefore, had a wrong to rectify in the Senior 4 event and having seen off a crew from City of Cambridge RC in their semi were up against a combined crew of Simoco RC and Kings Cambridge in the final. The Sudbury crew led every stroke of the distance to win by 1 L. Another win for this keen group.
All in all the Club entered nine events at the regatta, were involved in 6 finals and won 3 of them which is a strong showing by a Junior Club mixing it with the big boys.