Inaugural SRC Spring Head to Head

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!
View photos.

Women’s Quad takes on the Thames

The women’s quad headed to the choppy waters of the Thames for the Vets Head on Sunday, brimming with confidence after a successful pot-filled summer. Comprising of the same personnel who had competed at Fours head exactly one year previously (plus cox) it was the culmination of a year of blood, sweat and tears whilst learning the art of sculling. The day started brightly with the predicted 40mph winds not materialising and even more surprisingly some sunshine. With a highly professional rigging session behind them (and with no tape measure in sight) the quad set off for the row to the start. A determined row to the start ensued with the four scullers focused on the task ahead of them and the cox realising that the river looks different when you’re going forwards. Luckily a race plan had been meticulously created and studied in the few previously. Nothing would deter this crew from their moment. And then disaster struck…

Whilst in the marshalling area before the start line a crew who were late to the start came bearing down. Despite the shouts from many around the boats collided leaving theSudburycrew without a rudder and with a 3inch gash in the boat. Was this the end? Was the race over before it had even begun? No,Sudburywould not be denied and after landing at TSS the crew sped into action. Race desk was alerted, hammers and vices were employed with the amount of effort that only pure adrenaline could bring, gaffer tape was used to cover the gaping hole and hole the rudder in place and finally, the boat was rowable. And so to the start line.

Rejoining the waiting boats in the line for the start, there was no time for anymore preparation. The race was back on. After winding for the start line the crew settled in the kind of rhythm this crew is renowned for. Working hard in the conditions, the first men’s crew of the day was overcome. Driving past the landmarks, the crew soon came across Hammersmith (with a perfect line under the second lamppost J) where they were met with a wall of wind. Whereas the river before had been not too different from what we enjoy on theStour, here it turned into a battle against the elements. But waves crashing over the bows and boat-stopping gusts were not enough to overcome the determination of these women. With every stroke, they clawed their way towards the finish line and overtook another men’s quad in the process. Pressed on by the cheers from the Putney boathouse, a final wind for the line came to get them over the finish line.

The women’s quad had overcome adversity in every form to get over that line and finished in a respectable 112th overall and 2nd in their category. A fine day for all.

Heroic Efforts from Sudbury’s Veteran Four

The sun rose over the hills on the morning of Sunday 9th November, the day of the Vets Fours Head of the River, a 4 1/4 mile epic along the mighty Thames. Four highly trained, muscled rowers embarked on the long drive to London. Time and time again they visualised their race, counting out each stroke together.

Eventually they arrived. Their support team quickly rigged their vessel up. There was a debate concerning the river conditions and optimum setup, Bow Blit recommending 0.4 degrees of negative pitch camber, but Three man Spencer and Stroke Paxman instead prefering 1mm extra on the forward backstay. After completing a quick 15k warm up on the erg, they were ready to launch. They strode powerfully towards to water, boat held aloft. In one practised manouve the launched it into the raging waters of the Thames and hopped aboard.

Their row to the start was hampered by the gushing flow, but the crew drove through the water like a knife through butter. There was a short wait at the start before the race commenced, and the crew passed the time by leaping out of the boat and swimming to the far side of the river.

Soon the race began, and the four shot through Chiswick bridge like the space shuttle lifting off from its launch pad. Stroke man Paxman took the crew to rate 65 for the first 50 strokes, before striding out at a steady 45 strokes per minute. Soon they powered up behind their first crew. After numerous shouts which their victims chose to ignore, the decision was taken to row them over. Four of Sudburys finest stamped on them, and left them swimming in their wake. Bow man Blit provided a continual commentary of the carnage left behind, and a running total of crews overtaken. Unfortunately he got bored after overtake number 174, so the final number is unknown.

Soon the crew shot under Hammersmith bridge. The wind and waves increased, and the crew grinned with joy and excitement. Lead by young two man Arnott, they began to lay down even bigger puddles as they swept over the breakers. By now, there were no crews in sight, and the race was surely theirs, but Arnott bellowed for them to push on, again and again. Soon the finish approached, and Stroke Paxman began to wind the rate up, hitting 80 along the final mile.

All in all, a successful day for Sudbury’s heroic foursome.

Sunday Sessions

We will now be running two sessions on Sunday mornings.

  • Session 1: 09.00 – 10.30
  • Session 2: 11.00 – 12.30

We realise that Sundays have been getting very busy over the last few weeks. We hope that by running two sessions, and by knowing who is going to be turning up, we will be able to schedule the use of boats and be able to get you out on the water in a planned manner.

In order to try and organise crews and allocate boats in advance we would like you to submit your availability for the sessions, please use the availability website or email your co-ordinator to avoid dissapointment.

Annual Dinner

The annual dinner on Saturday 25 October was once again held at the Bull Hotel, Long Melford. Successfully organised by Rob Frost we enjoyed good food and company (some of us even spotted a ‘bloke off the telly’!) and celebrated our rowing year.

After some speeches from Tricia (Chairman) and Mike (Captain 2007/08) looking back over our sucessess and memorable events (good and bad) the traditonal SRC awards ceremony began.

And the winners were…

  • Stour Shield – David Wasse
  • Senior Award – jointly to the Ladies Quad (Rosemary, Sally, Katherine & Sarah) & Paul Hamblet
  • Junior Award – Jocelyn Ralph

The rest of the evening was spent dancing the night away to the live band!

2008/09 Committee

In the AGM held 23 October the following were voted into the committee positions:

  • Chairman – Tricia McGrillen
  • Secretary – Mike Arnott
  • Treasurer – Sally Fereday
  • Captain – Sarah Watts
  • Vice Captain (Ladies) – Katherine Cass
  • Vice Captain (Mens) – Charles Howard
  • Vice Captain (Juniors & Beginners) – Tony Hogsbjerg
  • Boatman & Maintenance – Tony Moule
  • Facilities – Jenny Spencer
  • Social & Publicity – Helen Taylor
  • Safety Officer – Trevor Chambers
  • Welfare Officer – Mike Arnott
  • Regatta Sponsorship – David Wasse
  • Regatta Secretary – tbc
  • Regatta Dragons – tbc

Sudbury Competes at The Head of the River Fours

It was a fresh, clear day. A very fresh day as we met at the Club at 7 am to do our final load to leave for Hammersmith. Pete G took a Management Role supervising the brave efforts of the Small People and Aidan. Our three boats, all their equipment and even the trestles were loaded and we left but two minutes late. A fine sense of anticipation was present for the three crews consisting of:

  • Paul, Sam, Pete O and Pete G – S2 4x
  • Aidan, Rob F, Johny M, Keith coxed by Michelle – S2 4+
  • Charles, Trevor, Rob S, David coxed by Jenny

Arriving at Hammersmith we found we could park right on the Furnivall Gardens grass without intervention from council staff and were as happy as pigs in clover, our own patch of lawn with all of our athletes present – David being slightly betrayed by the wittily titled ‘One’ Railway (One hellofa Railway perhaps) and Johny manfully Saving the People of Essex From Themselves (current score 17 burnt out cars).

We rigged up in an organised way and were the first Club to collect numbers from Furnivall only to find that, horror of horrors, the ‘empacher slot’ was missing from the Cresswell. What to do? Rob S and I considered some low performance improve involving random bits of plastic, duck tape and some very long screws but found ourselves stymied by a lack of a good knife. Fortunately Broxbourne came to our rescue and not for the first time. Rob Alexander has a magical toolbox (and it’s not just his Lizzie who says so) and he has always had whatever we need in it. I gave him a big kiss and we were sorted.

Our crews were admirably disciplined, organised, focused and were able to brief, stretch and get boated with an ideal lack of hurry. Good to see.. The support crew took the opportunity to take tea and I glimpsed Juergen Grobbler boating his crews. He looked concerned. Quite right too.

Conditions on the top of the tide were bobbly but the wind was behind the ebb tide for the race, the stream was strong, the sky was absolutely clear and crews reported that it was positively warm above the start, almost ideal racing conditions. From the 2nd lamppost from the South pier of Hammersmith bridge and next to the Marshall the race came towards the middle of the race hell for leather. Even the first 2 crews were at it hammer and tongs, side by side, fighting for bragging rights and for the centre of the stream. The Marshall was busy from the first moment “Leander, move to starboard. Move to starboard now Leander”. A call to give way that you don’t hear often and probably why Juergen was looking worried.

The Sudbury crews fought the good fight – the quad looked smooth and relaxed coming under Hammersmith but reported that they had been more upset by the relatively lively water than they had hoped. The Senior 2 crew spent the entire course tussling with crews and particularly enjoyed the second half of the race, side by side with one set of opponents. The Senior 3 boys rowed as hard as you would expect and as well as they could given the various things that had affected their performance.

As they went under the bridge I heard on the marshal’s radio that three crews were being investigated for being of different gender than their entry forms had stated. Not something that could happen to our chaps I think. And on the way back I bumped into, no was almost run over by Matthew Pinsent pushing a pushchair (his?) – wonder if he wants a return to rowing, I know a club that would be ideal…

I took some photographs – hope that I shall be able to do the same for future events…..

Peterborough Summer Regatta

Peterborough’s summer event is traditionally both hard to win and to enter. This year they managed to squeeze in about 380 competing crews each day but had still had to turn back more than 200 entries of which a proportion were ours. Again I am grateful to David for putting together as much as he could.

Our sweep-oared crews did not fare that well with Senior 3 8s on both days reaching repechages but no more. The S3 4 of Sant, Paxman, Wijnberg and Bull fared a lot better on the Sunday than the Saturday at least being ‘in the mix’ up to the Semi. Our WS 4 4+ was unfortunately disqualified owing to events outside their control and I am in correspondence with the regatta over this. We are all grateful to Sue for doing so much coxing in miserable conditions.

Our scullers were somewhat stronger. Paul Hamblett raced well to reach the final of S3 on the Saturday though the distance proved just too short for him in the end, the winner being someone he had beaten over 2,000m earlier in the year. Sue Tickner raced at WJ16 and was unfortunate enough to come up against Bream of Peterborough but she did beat at least one girl who had been faster than her earlier in the year.

The S3 2x of Paul and Sam came together really well on Sunday. Having survived the battle of the hangovers early in the morning they progressed with greater and greater strength to win the final and lose their Novice status. Congratulations go to the boys.

‘The Best Little Regatta in the World’

As you would expect there were many competitors from the ‘home’ club at this event. It was good to see old friends such as Jess Dixon and Pete Gostling back in the saddle. I am very grateful to David Bull for organising crews and collating the forms. Successes for the day (ignoring those members rowing for other crews) were the Mens Sprint 8 (Moule, Hamblett, Bull, Ord, Howard, Chambers, Hogsbjerg, Gostling, coxed by Spencer), Mixed Senior 2 4 (Tickner, Spencer, Hamblett, Hogsbjerg coxed by Cole), Veteran Novice 4 (Wasse, Chandrasekharan, Smith, Millbank coxed by Jones), S2 2x (Hamblett, Ord), WJ 2x (Tickner, Dixon), Mixed N 2x (Woricker, Kiff), N1x (Woricker), WJ 1x (Spencer), WJ16 1x (Tickner). Of these the most pleasing to me were the win for Dan at Novice single – it’s been a while coming and he has worked hard for it – and the Mixed Novice Double – Sophie being back in a boat is one thing but sculling so well and winning a competitive event was really good to see.

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