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.

A Sunny and Successful Weekend at St Neots Regatta

Many competitive crews from SRC at this event. The mens squads came together to field both an S3 and S2 8 on both days, though with mixed fortunes. The Saturday S2 crew beat Cygnet to progress to their final in which they met Star crew whose quality eventually proved too good. Sunday’s version of S2 was just 2 feet to slow to win the last race of the day. At S3 the crews did not fare quite as well – Saturday’s crew under-performing (by their own account) in losing to Leicester and Sunday’s 8 suffering a comically effective crab whilst leading a semi against eventual event winners Star.

Sunday also saw the debut of Helen and Louisa as a Womens Novice Double scull who were perhaps unlucky enough to face the eventual winners, Newark, in their first race. Our other double scull for the weekend consisted of serial winners Paul and Jenny at Mixed S4. The standard here was really pretty good and the Final proved a very tight affair with the Simoco/Magdalene combo leading by feet until 2 strokes from the finish line where a spectacular crab castled them, allowing the SRC crew to fly past and win by 1.5 lengths.

Jenny competed at WS4 in a 5 boat field. This was an appropriate level of competition for her and her opponents gave her a good fight in each round, but Jenny eventually won her final, and her 1st Senior point, by 1 length.

Our other entrants at this regatta, Dan and Oli, faced fields of 12 and 13 respectively. At it turned out each of Dan’s races was close and well-fought, with Dan losing only by a few seconds in the Final (and to the Captain of Broxbourne RC, who then went on to win S4 1x on the Sunday – why did he not attend our regatta??) . Oli’s progress was altogether more serene and it was a great pleasure to see him romp home in the Final by 4 lengths.

Jenny Spencer Wins National Championships

Attended by Paul Hamblett, competing in Open Lightweight Single Sculls and Jenny Spencer in Womens Junior 15 Single sculls. With 36 entrants Paul’s event was the largest in the Championship and provided a proper test of his progress this season. Having been narrowly beaten into second in his opening race Paul progressed from the Repechage into the Semi-Final on Sunday morning. The standard on the Sunday of National Championships is necessarily high and fifth place in the semi is a really good achievement.

Jenny was challenged to half way in her first round but made sure of progressing straight to the Final on Sunday by winning comfortably. The Final was a properly competitive event with nine seconds covering the field at half way, and only twelve at 1,500 metres. The fast starting Preston of Durham ARC was leading from Jenny by five seconds at 1,000m but Jenny’s power pushed her to the front, leading by two seconds at 1,500m and going on to win by five seconds in the end. This is a great achievement both for Jenny and for her Coach, Tony Moule.

Big Pots from Bedford Quarts Regatta

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.

Richmond Regatta: Late Victory is Highlight of Sunny Day

On Saturday Sudbury RC sent a party of of competitive crews to the lovely 18th Century parkland of Richmond for their traditional regatta. Races run down a broad 1,200 m sweep of Father Thames round a tightening bend to finish in front of the lawn at Petersham Gardens. It was a wonderful English mid-summers’ day with unbroken sunshine beating down on the crews and the passing pleasure boats.

First Sudbury racer was Sue Tickner competing with the adults for the first time at Womens Novice Single sculls. In her first round she faced an experienced competitor from Mortlake Anglian & Alpha Boat Club. Tickner started well and was leading by half way. Unfortunately she could not hold on her advantage in the closing stages of an exciting race. Her opponent went on to win the final with great comfort so we can expect Tickner to do well at her next event.

Next on the course was the Mens 8 of Paul Sant, Jeremy Rose, William Wijnberg, John Brooks, Rob Snelling, Keith Paxman, Andrew Blit and David Bull coxed by Jenny Spencer. The oppositon were a crew of big boys from Thames Rowing Club, one of the historic bastions of the sport. Both crews rowed with an aggressive, sharp style with Thames gradually pulling away to win. They went on to win the event, proving their class.

Jenny Spencer was next to race in her single scull. Now promoted to Womens Senior 3 this was a big step up for the Club’s star 15 year old. In her first race she sculled past her opponent, destroying her in the 2nd half of the race. Her opponent in the final – a lady from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst – was a much tougher proposition. This was one of the races of the day with the girls never getting more than one boat length apart. The Umpire for the race was kept very busy with both scullers straying from the racing line and towards each other. The Finish Judge’s verdict of a win by 2 feet to the Sandhurst sculler was disappointing but another big step in Spencer’s racing career.

The final Sudbury crew of the day was a four drawn from the rowers from the earlier 8 of Sant, Paxman, Snelling and Bull coxed by Tickner. By coincindence their opposition in the Final was four from the Thames RC crew that we had raced in the morning – revenge was on the menu if it could be achieved. In another dramatic race the Sudbury crew held on to the fast start of their opposition and then, gradually wearing them down rowed through them. Tickner steered the ideal course, forcing Thames to take the longest route round the final bend and the Sudbury crew won by 1 1/2 lengths. It was a great way to close off a sunny regatta of competition.

Peterborough Spring Regatta: More Success for SRC

A substantial contingent from Surdbury RC attended the two day Regatta on the purpose built lake at Peterborough last weekend. For some this was their first taste of multi-lane racing where others were coming straight from training camp or back from injury. This is another major regional event that attracts crews from as far afield as York, Manchester, Birmingham and Southampton and is another stiff challenge for our local athletes.

The Saturday Regatta is raced over the full Kilometre of the lake and Sudbury had competitors in 6 events. The mens squad who had competed at Leicester and Bedford were represented by an 8 consisting of Russell Smith, John Brooks, Paul Sant, Johny Myers, Rob Snelling, Keith Paxman, Andrew Blit and David Bull coxed by Michelle Cole and a 4 of Sant, Paxman, Snelling and Bull again coxed by Cole. The 8s event was pretty ‘hot’ with Jesus College, Cambridge and University of Warwick eventually finishing first and second. The Sudbury crew were not quite on that pace but were sufficiently strong to beat the local Peterborough City 8 on their home water. The 4 had more success though cutting it fine in their first race, needing to finish 2nd they were beaten by .3 of a second by Wolfson College, Cambridge but held off St.Ives R.C. by .2 to qualify for the semi final. In that event they improved their performance to qualify comfortably for the final where they once again found Wolfson just too good on the day.

Paul Hamblett, fresh from training camp in France, entered both Novice and Senior 3 single sculls. Hamblett is targetting the extra large Tankard available to the Novice winner of Bedford Quarts Regatta in July and is, accordingly, treating events before then as preparation. His sculling throughout the day was classy and smooth and his comfort in achieving 2nd place in each event entered is a token of his promise for the summer.

Sudbury’s other competitors were Sophie Kiff and Jenny Spencer at Womens Junior 16 double sculls and Spencer in Womens Novice single sculls. Kiff is just returning from a wrist injury and naturallly found the event taxing and their opponents, from St.Neots RC, had recently come 2nd at the National Schools Regatta and are a year older than Kiff and Spencer. But the Sudbury crew’s style is so smooth and effective that the pushed their opponents hard to the line. Spencer was entering her first ‘Senior’ event and had been apprehensive beforehand. She need not have worried as over the 3 races of the event she carried all before her comfortably dominating and winning her Novice pot.

The Sunday Regatta is a ‘Sprint’ event run over 500 metres with breathless, harum scarum racing the order of the day. A similar range of competitive crews were entered by Sudbury and the racing was tight and hard.

The Mens 8 of Hamblett, Brooks, Sant, Myers, Snelling, Paxman, Blit and Bull were coxed by Daniel Woricker and had a really fast day. In their first race they hung on to the tails of University of Birmingham but were more than 3 secoonds faster than the crews from Peterborough and Cambridge 99 RC, year long rivals. The final was won by the Birmingham crew with Sudbury this time recording a 6 second verdict over Peterborough. The crew split onto two 4s with Sant, Brooks, Myers and Bull, coxed by Woricker reaching the semi-final at Senior 4 but losing out there to University of York and a Veteran crew of Blit, Paxman, Snelling and Bull coxed by Woricker meeting decades old rivals from Peterborough. Beaten again after a really tight race but we will get them next time!

Kiff and Spencer raced again, this time in their own Womens Junior 15 category and were clearly faster and smoother than their opponents in both rounds, winning the final with grace and ease. Spencer, too, raced as a Junior on the Sunday and was, also triumphant even though the competition led by a girl from Rob Roy Boat Club was strong and determined.

So, all in all, a successful weekend for Sudbury RC, with 3 wins from 11 entries. The mens group was headed by collegiate crews but only by one other ‘Club’, Hamblett is on course to triumph at Bedford and Kiff and Spencer brought home the trophies. The next event for the Club will be Richmond Regatta on June 24th where we hope to pick up more prizes.

Playing with the Big Boys at Bedford Amateur Regatta

This regatta claims to be the biggest river regatta in the world and the largest event for 8s and 4s in the country. It was certainly very busy with races every 2 minutes from 8.30 in the morning to 7.30 at night between competitors from as far afield as York, Liverpool and Bristol. Even Sir Steven Redgrave was there (with his daughter) coaching a crew from Liverpool Victoria – a Channel 5 project to see if they can bring a group of disaffected urban youth up to Henley Royal Regatta standard..

Sudbury had entered an 8 of Russell Smith, Andrew Blit, Paul Sant, Johny Myers, Rob Snelling, Charles Howard and David Bull coxed by Mike Arnott (a triumph of experience over size) – a crew similar to those triumphant at Leicester the previous week. Competition at Bedford was bound to be tougher but the draw pitted the crew against local rivals Cambridge 99 Rowing Club in the first round.

Racing between the 2 outfits had been intense over the winter with Cambridge anxious to redress the balance, presently 2-1 in favour of the Sudbury boys. Their cox attempted to keep her crew relaxed by telling very bad jokes as the boats were waiting to get on the start line – unfortunately it was a tactic that misfired as the Cambridge crew crabbed disastrously, twice, in the first 15 strokes of the race to hand a decisive advantage to the Sudbury crew who waltzed away to win by 1 length without having to row at their best.

In the 2nd round SRC faced Radley School – a crew who had been training together for 3 or more years. After a lightning start from the schoolboys Sudbury held on to their opponents to half way, when the superior basic speed of the youngsters told. It was a determined row by Sudbury and there is no disgrace in losing to a crew from one of the leading rowing schools – the same thing happened to Sir Steve’s crew

Sudbury Triumphant in Distant Leicester

This was a relatively small expedition to this new destination for the Club. It is certainly a long way to go to race but the event is very well run, friendly. The regatta is held on the historic ‘Mile Straight’ of the Grand Union Canal in the centre of the town and the Club facilities are palatial (in a modern style)

SRC entered a Novice 4 and a Senior 4 8 hoping to meet (and beat) appropriate opposition. Following a few late withdrawals and call ups the four consisted of John Myers, Keith Paxman, Rob Snelling and David Bull coxed, bravely, by Oli Mitchell. Their first round opponents proved the most dangerous – Merchant Taylors School fielding a crew of small but technically very competent boys. Eventually Sudbury’s power told and they pulled away to win by 2 lengths. Some ‘exciting’ steering was a feature of the semi-final against de Montfort University A crew with the Race Committee turning down the students’ protests on the grounds that they had been beaten too early on in the race for it to have made any difference. The final was against a crew of very substantial gentlemen from Peterborough City RC. A great deal of power was evident in the first half of the race before the superior technique and fitness of the Sudbury crew broke their opponents to achieve a notable regatta win.

The 8 consisted of Myers, Paxman, Snelling and Bull joined by Andrew Blit, John Brooks, Tony Hogsbjerg and Charles Howard. For this event the Club ‘borrowed’ a cox from Merchant Taylors School, Taff Lewis, a welshman. The opposition came from the home club and included former Sudbury rower Andy Watson so competition was bound to be intense. Both crews had strong starts with Sudbury taking a small advantage. At about half way Lewis called for a push and a powerful burst by the Sudbury crew took them away from Leicester to win by over a length.

These wins entitles the Club to the Kirby & West Victor Ludorum for Senior events, an award based on the number of wins and the size of boat over the day.

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