Wallingford Head 2002

Fired by the stories of SRC having a successful club day out at Maidstone, I thought I'd update people on what I was doing yesterday in my quest for rowing success with Oxford Brookes. Firstly though, well done to all. Forgive me not naming names but I haven't seen full results yet. Well done to those who won, good to hear it's more than the odd usual suspect. Pity there wasn't any competition for the W2- etc, and that Robert went all the way to take a cold swimming lesson! Perhaps this will serve as a lesson to those who don't take enough kit to do themeselves a favour and smarten up!

Shame about the event organisation, Maidstone has always been a useful small-boats event, but sounds a bit less attractive this time. Removing the cake shop! Sacrilige!

I plead absence from Maidstone due to competng elsewhere - it was Wallingford 4s & 8s head, reduced to no novices or S4s because of the strong stream, but contrary to instructions when we went afloat, it was held over the full 5+Km course, against the stream.

I was due to be sitting out the first div - annoying as I'd rather have done the first and then got on the road back - then I was in a S24+ until the coach realised there were 3 strokesiders so that didn't work, so I was on the bank again. Part of me wondered if that was because the coach knew I was good and wanted to look at other people, part of me wondered if it was because he'd already decided I wasn't very good!

Anyway, the Henley RC coach is an old mate of the Brookes coach, and HRC were a man down, so I rowed in their S3 8 at 4. It was ok - overtook 2 and pulled away from the 2 behind us. We were out in the stream a bit more than was strategically good though. Boat wasn't set up for me at all - feet high, gate low, no time or tools to adjust - so it was a bit awkward. That boat finished 5th in S3, 17th overall. They seemed pleased with it. Am becoming rent-a-strokesider!

In the afternoon division I was at 6 (!) in the Brookes E8+ (!). The S1 A crew in the morning consisted of their top active guys plus some low-pointers to creep into S1, the Elite boat was more of the guys with more points, and not so many of the cream of the squad. The cox knew the importance of the stream to the extend of us rowing through trees foolish enough to overhang the river, and we were heavily focussed on dropping Thames RC starting right behind us. I think he coxed the Junior worlds 8 last yr or year before, and kept us calm and focussed. We flew off, me worried by my creaking/loose oar-handle and wondering if I could do a "Leander at Henley" and row with just the loom if it broke....it didn't luckily.

The rate only DROPPED to 34 two or three times, and only for the odd stroke - not bad for 16min 27s in the 2nd div when we had all already rowed once! Most of the time it was at 35. I am having to relearn the boundary between "fast" and "rushed" as I think at Sudbury we would have definitely called that rushing! It was a bit frantic, but strong, and we were chaining every stroke, so not bad... was hanging on a bit by the end and everyone else admitted to having blown too... there was a lot of rower's cough after the finish, we had definitely pushed ourselves. Thought: if they do 16-17 minutes at 35 and call that head pace, what on earth are regattas going to be like?!?

It was worth it though as we won Elite 8's (so there is a pot waiting for me!, I'd left before the results came out) and were 3rd overall - there were fast IC and Brookes 8's ahead. Pleased with that. Brookes had 4 8's in top 5, with 3 including mine very close, so it was good for my future to be in amongst them...

Being realistic though there was 1 second splitting the Brookes E, S2 and S3 8's, which were all therefore quite similar speed. Our 8 comprised some good guys, and some guys with lots of points (not always the same thing!), but must be good for me that I was at 6 instead of 4 or 2....

Good to get blooded and come away with a pot. Think the coach is generally pleased with winning 9 divisions and having 4 8s in the top 5, but less pleased that IC took the headship. Apparently their boat was loaded with Junior World's guys from last year and they certainly looked tidier than our 8 felt.

Looks like it's honours even in the Trev v SRC pot-hunt! :-)

Trevor Chambers