‘The Hungary Caterpillars’!

World Rowing Masters Regatta, Lake Velence, Hungary.

On Thursday 5th September, a small group of Sudbury members, led by Jeremy Milbank, and supported by a generous donation from St. James’s Place Partnership, set off on a short trek across Europe.

Towing a trailer full of assorted boats, they caught the overnight ferry from Harwich to The Hook of Holland, then on through The Netherlands, Germany, Austria and finally Hungary, arriving at Lake Velence on Sunday afternoon. Despite the challenges of parking something the length of an articulated lorry in your average hotel car park, the journey was uneventful, and the boats arrived safe and sound.

Stephen Nichols said, over 5000 entries were received, from 52 countries, and as they all started arriving it was great to see so many rowers from so many clubs all coming together. As well as the smaller entries, like ours, there were some enormous trailers from Germany and Italy, and all overflowing with the latest equipment.

On the Tuesday, other members of the club started to arrive, in preparation for the first day’s racing on Wednesday and at this point, the Sudbury rowers had to relocate into the capital, Budapest, about 50Km to the North, as all of the local accommodation had been fully booked for the event. Earlier in the year, one of the one of the members had been tasked with finding them all a Castle to stay in, and so he did ! However, it turned out not to be ‘the’ Castle!

On Wednesday, the racing started, with Tracy Muir and Teresa Moriarty competing in the Women’s MasD 2x, where they were beaten by a field of crews from France, Russia and Germany. On Thursday, Sean Moriarty and Jeremy Milbank competed as a Men’s MasF 2x, finishing 6th in a field of 8 crews from the UK, South America, South Africa, Germany, Norway and Australia, a truly global affair.

The following day, a fresh contingent of Sudbury rowers had flown in, and there were four races scheduled. First off was the Men’s Coxed IV, of Sarah Stirling (cox), Lee Adams, Tim Hysom, Stephen Nichols and Paul Adams, competing in the MasD category. The race started well for the IV, and they were just second to the Croatians at halfway, closely followed by two German crews. One of the German crews pushed through into second place by the 750m mark, and Sudbury were then in a three way battle for third place. In the end, and after a photo finish, the Sudbury crew were eventually placed fourth by just 0.2 seconds from the third placed Germans. Although disappointed, Sudbury were pleased to have beaten both of the other UK entries in their heat.

Next up was the Men’s MasE 1x of Sean Moriarty, who unfortunately came last in his heat against another impressive international field, and then the Women’s MasE 2x of Tracy Muir and Teresa Moriarty, who were 7th in their heat. The same result was also had by Sarah Stirling in her heat of the Women’s MasD 1x.

Saturday was the last day of single gender competition, and the club had five races to contest. First to boat was Tim Wallace, in the Men’s MasB 1x, who, despite a spirited effort, finished last in his heat. However, Sarah Stirling, competing in Women’s MasE 1x, was able to overcome half of her field to finish fourth in her heat. A great result against international opposition. Next to race were Sean Moriarty and Jeremy Milbank, this time as Men’s MasE 2x, but despite having a closer race than previously, they too finished in last place. The Men’s MasC 4+ also raced again, but this time were unable to establish a foothold in the race, and also finished last in their heat. Last up was Kate Wallace, in Women’s MasB 1x, who came in 6th out of 7.

Sunday was ‘Mixed’ day, when all mixed gender crews compete, and Sudbury had four races in all. The MasE 2x of Sean Moriarty and Sarah Stirling finished fifth in their closely fought heat, and the MasD 4x of Teresa Moriarty, Jeremy Milbank, Sean Moriarty and Sarah Stirling finished last of six in their race. However, the real action of the morning involved the MasA/B 2x of Tim Wallace and Poppy Grosch. They competed first as a MasA 2x, and finished fourth in their heat, in a time of 3:49. Their next race was scheduled for only 20 minutes later, and because of the way the event is run, this meant they had to immediately turn round, and join the crews heading directly back to the start line. Once there, they competed again, in the MasB 2x event, and although they finished in sixth place, their time was 3:48, one second faster, and less than a second off of fourth place. A great effort.

With the racing over and the jet setters headed home, the trailer was reloaded and they made the long journey home, finally arriving back in Sudbury two weeks after they had set out. Stephen Nichols said ‘A long time away and a lot of miles travelled, but we all had a great time, meeting rowers from all over the world and thoroughly enjoying the hospitality of the Hungarians’.

Köszönöm, and viszlát!