A fine day for a paddle: Head of the River Fours 2006

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 3 boats, all their equipment and even the trestles were loaded and we left but 2 minutes late. A fine sense of anticipation was present for the 3 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 Marshallwas 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 2nd 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 Marshall’s radio that 3 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 push chair (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…..

Author
Andrew Blit
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