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 preferring 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 manoeuvre 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 Sudbury’s 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.

Rob Frost