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
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.
An extensive range of Sudbury rowers went to compete, from those attending their first regatta to seasoned veterans of many a campaign. First up were Sue Tickner and Paul Hamblett, racing above their class in Mixed Senior 3 doubles. In a fine, classy scull they dominated their opponents from Lea and won by 2 lengths. At the other end of the age spectrum were Andrew Blit and Mike Arnott in their first competitive outing for 11 months at Veteran D, average age 50-55. Having been given a 4 seconds start against their younger opponents they did well for the first half of the race, before lack of basic fitness caught up, nothing that a little training would not cure however.
Then Louisa Hayes and Joscelyn Ralph competed in their first race as a Mixed Novice Double and they turned in a competitive and racey performance albeit losing to a crew of Juniors from the home club. Lots to build on there. This race was closely followed by a match up between the gnarled and serious vetereans of Lea against the relative tyros of Sudbry in Veteran C fours. Against the odds the Sudbury crew of Blit, Keith Paxman, Rob Snelling and David Bull coxed by Michelle Cole held the local heros for 2/3s of the course before succumbing by half a length on the line.
Then Hamblett, last seen sculling with Tickner raced at Senior 2 (well above his ‘status’) against a local sculler. He was unfortunate enough to find an opponent who had been invited to attend national trials and after being competitive to half way had to concede 2nd best.
Now another Sudbury win – the Senior 4 coxed 4 of Johny Myers, John Brooks, Snelling and Dan Worricker again coxed by Cole were strong and powerful enough to win their event against local opposition. This was followed by a narrow Sudbury loss at Senior 3 fours, with Myers, Paxman, Snelling, Bull and Cole being rowed through by an experienced University of Kent crew who were one of the clas crews of the entire regatta.
Oli Mitchell and Sue Tickner were unlucky enough to face up to Lea opposition marginally too strong at Mixed Junior double scull but Mitchell with Woricker were comfortably triumphant in their Novice double scull event against opponents from Maidstone.
The Head of the River Race
25 March 2006
A wholly successful and enjoyable day for the mens Novice 8. With the high start position bequeathed by last years’ crew there was both a promise of a fast time (with the benefit of the stream) and the danger of being dominated by surrounding, experienced crews. The SRC crew excelled themselves by taking advantage of the conditions and holding off all but the most determined of their opponents. Their finish position of 291 is, we think, the highest achieved by a Sudbury Novice crew and was the 1st Club Novice 8 home.
March Vesta Veterans Head
26 March 2006
The Mixed Veteran 8 emerged from hibernation to triumph, once again, this time at Mixed Vet C. They rather turn the old adage on its head, the better they are the younger they get! It will be good to see this formation out more over the summer.
Bedford Small Boats Head
9 April 2006
A substantial contingent attended the spring Bedford fest. We had 55 racing seats with 21 competitors. It was, so far as I can recall, the Club’s most successful trip with 6 wins centred around 2 competitors. Paul COMFORTABLY won both Novice and S4 singles – his best time would have won S3, S2 and would have had him second at S1 by 1 second! Jenny dominated WJ16 1x. Jenny and Paul were, naturally, fastest Mixed Novice 2x, Jenny and Jess won Womens Novice 2x (and would also have won the WJ16 event) and Paul and Sam won Mens N2x from a PCRC crew with pretensions of glory. In addition our S1 pairs matrix was only beaten by one crew and it took very good Novice 3s to beat our Mens groupings (the fastest N 4+ would also have won S4) and our scratch S4 crew was a close up 3rd in its event. Claire and Sue just held off Alex and Sue in their needle match and everyone who attended got a lot out of it. Oli beat Dan when singling and Dan and Oli together were but 7 seconds slower than Sam and Paul. Especial thanks to Michelle and Anna for bravely going up and down the river all day coxing (even if it was for Maidenhead!) Thus, despite a cold and wet end to the day, a very useful event!
A large club contingent across a wide spectrum of boat types. It was good to see that Novice Ladies get racing again, looking stronger than they had at Maidstone. The Juniors once again formed the backbone to the squad with Jenny yet again excelling. The Novice men had storming races in their 4 and 8, close to the front of their field and Sam & Aidan yet again showed their silky skills in the pair. The Club is very grateful to Cooney for towing, once more and to Aidan and Sam for helping run the awayday.
Legs 2 and 3
February and March Respectively
Having put ourselves in contention for 4 events and it was, in the end, a little disappointing to come away with only the 1 sets of their new glass-bottomed tankards. Congratulations to the Novice Ladies who took the precaution of being so far in front after 2 legs that they could afford a significant mishap in leg 3 and still win by a good distance. A storming row from Jenny and Paul in Leg 2 put the mixed double in contention from an unlikely position and the Novice mens 8 were 10th in the entire event which is laudable in itself. They were perhaps unfortunate to find that Cambridge 99s group had progressed between legs 2 and 3 a great deal. It is also a demonstration that moving from macons to cleavers does not guarantee any change in speed.
A significant Club expedition. Despite Maidstone dropping out crews left right and centre owing to CLAIMED lack of opposition the Club fielded 20 athletes most competing twice or more. The average standard of our entrants was as high as I can remember (within each class) and it is encouraging, from a Captaincy point of view, to record that watching the post-match video (available from all good Hogsbjerg outlets) to note the consistency of SRC rowing ‘style’. The Club’s results reflected our aspirations too. Wins were recorded by Jenny at WJ15 1x (would also have won WJ16). Jenny and Sophie at WJ162x, Anna and Sue and WN2x (they were 2nd in their event also!), Keith, Rob, Dave and John M at N4+ (with the other 2 combinations 2nd and 3rd= in the same event on time) and Aidan and Trevor at S2 2-.
It is with huge sadness that Sudbury Rowing Club has to report the death of one of it’s members at the club’s 124th regatta this weekend.
Kenneth (Ken) Mills (58), long-standing member and trustee of Sudbury Rowing Club, collapsed at the end of his race at Sudbury Regatta on Saturday 7 August. He was attended to immediately by the St Johns Ambulance team and doctors on site, before being taken by ambulance to West Suffolk Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Family and fellow club members are shocked and saddened by this loss. Ken was a keen competitor and had raced at many regattas over the years, including Henley. He trained regularly both on and off the water, a fact which makes the news of his death even more difficult to bear.
The Chairman of Sudbury Rowing Club, Tricia McGrillen, said
“Ken was a faithful committee member, and Treasurer of the Club. We gain some comfort in knowing that he died taking part in a sport that he loved at the club he was dedicated to. This was an extremely sad day for us all, and Ken will be greatly missed, both for his contribution to the club and for his personality”.
In accordance with the wishes of his wife, who was also competing that day, the Club continued with their Regatta weekend.
Sam Hogsbjerg rowed at six in the King’s College ‘A’ eight which qualified in the Temple Challenge Cup. Their first race on Wednesday was against the US Naval Academy which had won the trip to Henley by winning the IRA’s (sort of American equivalent of BUSA) in lightweight eights. The US crew equalled the second fastest time of the day to win by 3¾ lengths.
Peter Gostling was stroke of Leander Club’s Ladies’ Challenge Plate eight. Their first race was on Friday against Christiania & Norske Roklub of Norway, which they won by two lengths to set up a semi-final against Boston University, who were the seeded crew in that half of the draw. In a close contest in which the lead changed hands a number of times, and the announcer had to resort to ever smaller fractions of boat-lengths to relay the margin, Leander held on to win by ¾L. That set up a final with Harvard, the US varsity heavyweight champions, who as the other seeded crew had a slightly more comfortable win over Grasshopper of Switzerland. In the final Leander had a two length lead at Fawley, half-way, but Harvard fought back, but to no avail as Leander recorded a popular home win by ¾L.
Well done to Peter – that’s his fird Henley medal!
We have ordered a second virus boat to support our beginner’s programme, plus some new blades to go with it. It should be delivered before the end of June. We have also placed an order for a new bank tub. The tub will be fixed to the landing stage enabling the rower to practice rowing in a stable vessel that doesn’t move. This investment will be very useful in speeding up the learning process for beginners, but also useful to refine/break the bad habits, of the more experienced rowers. We hope to have this in June too.
Iris course: With the recent ROSE course completed, the next course will be intermediate Rowing in Sudbury (IRIS) This is scheduled to run for 6 consecutive Sundays beginning the 5th September. Contact the captain if you want to go on the list.
The club had a successful weekend at St. Neots regatta over the weekend. The women’s 8+ confirmed their competitive season by winning the S3 event, and providing a good race in their S2 heat, losing to a mean-looking AK crew. Four of the Sudbury crew won their novice pot in this event (Liz, Dawn, Mel and Julie), which had 4 entries, in a convincing 1¾ length win over the Lea. The men’s senior 4 proved they can do it coxed as well as coxless by winning the S2 4+ event, also from the Lea, by 3ft in a close final in the 9 boat event, after winning their heats with some to spare. The other Sudbury entry was Robert Frost in a large Novice sculls field, who narrowly lost in a heat.
On the sunday the mixed four won the S2 4+ event, and Tony narrowly lost the final of Vet B 1x on very little sculling this season. Robert persevered through to the final of the Novice 1x event from a field of 12 but lost by half a length. A win musty be on the cards soon…