As previously reported, Star Masters squad sent several boats to Henley Masters’ Regatta held on the Fawley stretch of the Royal Regatta course on 13th and 14th July. The club performed well, winning gold in the E8s category in a highly competitive field, and reaching the finals in F4+, WMC2x and C4+ categories.
Henley Masters’ Regatta may not have the glamour, crowds or caché of its Royal cousin, but for the crews that come in from around the world, it’s every bit as important. In a season that’s seen superb results for the squad, Henley did not disappoint.
Masters Men E Eights: Winners
Dominic Hawes writes: “When the draw was published, The E8 category immediately stood out as one of the more competitive with Brit Masters winners LRC, Abingdon, Crabtree and Broxbourne all being well-known contenders. The draw’s dark horse was an entry from Australia’s North Shore Rowing Club.
“With a bye in the heats round, our first competitor was Abingdon RC and we knew their boat had been getting faster all season. Despite near perfect conditions, a nervy and weak start saw us yield a quarter length in the first three strokes. By the tenth and striking 40, we’d reversed the deficit and gained a half-length of our own. We settled into our stride at 34/35 strokes a minute and focused on length and relaxation. By the 500m point, we had clear 1 ½ length lead when our stroke, David Sogan, relaxed the rate and took control of the race. We finished comfortably ahead in a good time of 3.13.
In the semi-final, we lined up in a slight headwind against the mighty London Rowing Club. Known for their technical prowess, ability and speed London would push us as hard as any club. Three weeks before Henley, LRC had won the E8 category at British Rowing National Masters -this was not a boat to be taken lightly. Kevan Armstrong briefed the crew before we boated and we all agreed to the kind of race plan a competitor like London warrants. With a much stronger start and striking 42 in the spin, we again managed to pull a small lead in the first fifteen strokes. Catherine Upex managed tight lanes and a slight stroke side pull off the start admirably. Settling at 36, we gradually ground out a lead. At the halfway point, London rallied but made no real impression. We crossed the line a length ahead in a time of 3.16 having rowed 115 strokes to London’s 124. Length beats rate. We produced our best row to date in the boat.
Broxbourne RC’s E8 worked its way through the other side of the competition laying down similarly competitive times. With stronger winds on day two, we rowed to the start scenting blood but not expecting the final to be a gimme. The race plan was respectful but aggressive and, while the crew never really settled as well as against London, we executed well. A similarly strong start in the low 40s settled to 36 to the 500m point by which time the race was under control. David Sogan relaxed the rate thereafter and we focused on length to take us home. A victory by 1 ½ lengths in a time of… well… who cares. We won!
The crew was coxed by Catherine Upex and included: David Sogan, Kevan Armstrong, David Gowing, Dom Hawes, Ivan Higgins, Richard White (Bedford Rowing Club), Andrew Thompson and Steve Colliver.
Kevan Armstrong led the crew and commented: “We’ve been working hard on improving boat speed all year. Henley gave us a chance to prove that the volume of training and attention to detail committed by the squad has not been wasted. Our boats are definitely moving a lot faster with a much more relaxed rowing style. Any master that’s interested in moving boats faster and is willing to commit to training should join us. Next year we’re setting our sights even higher.”
Men’s Masters F Coxed Fours: Finalists
David Taylor writes: “The F4+ boat, Colin Hunt, Simon Lamb, Trevor Barton, Dave Taylor and coxed by Jill Edgeley had a good regatta. On Friday morning they beat Tideway Scullers in a close race, winning by 3 feet. The semi-final in the afternoon was a better row and a comfortable win over Marlow by 2 lengths. The final on Saturday was against a strong crew from Grosvenor rowing club. Both crews had good starts but Grosvenor gradually pulled away during the middle of the race. Star came back at the finish but was beaten by just over 1 length.”
Men’s Masters C Coxed Fours: Finalists
Dom Hawes writes: “All we had to do to reach the final was show up after two crews scratched from this unpopular category. Our foe was Potomac rowing club from Washington DC about whom we knew very little. Received wisdom tells us “only quick crews travel halfway around the world”. We knew we’d be up against it.
“Potomac was lighting fast off the start. We had an uneasy spin and with boats so close that blades were nearly clashing, our start was less than good. We settled into a stride, but never really found the easy length we’d pursued in training. At the 500m point, we were ¾ of a length down, but it felt like we were gaining. 200m from the finish, Potomac turned on the turbo and our tanks were empty so we couldn’t respond. We ran out of legs and lost by two and a bit lengths to a crew we’re keen to race again… soon.”
The crew was coxed by Cathy Johnson (Bedford Rowing Club) and comprised: Steve Colliver, Dom Hawes, David Gowing and Chris Callow.
Women’s Masters C Double Sculls: Finalists
Rachel Armstrong and Lisa Boggis won their semi-final against Milton Keynes very comfortably and faced this years’ national masters winners, Strathclyde, who had won by 12sec at Nottingham in the final. The race tactic was to put enormous pressure on Strathclyde early on in the race and try to stay in touch. The Star double led at 600m and with just 300 meters to go the crews were level. Small advantages make big differences and the better equipped Strathclyde pushed home their advantage in the closing stages by lifting their pace to win a truly hard-fought race.
Kevan Armstrong was immensely proud of how the women went about it. “How do you beat a crew that’s 12 secs faster than you?” He said. “Your only chance is to nail the start, then put more than you ought into it for as long as you can!!
“At 600m they had a chance. If they had been measured, the race would have been lost by stroke 20. With spot-on equipment, they may well have nicked an extra half-length and that might just have been enough to crack a technically less than perfect Strathclyde.”
Men’s Masters F Eights
David Taylor writes: “The Star F8 despite few training outings with the final racing crew leading up to Henley, had a good race against Reading, who were the eventual winners and a long-established crew. Star was fortunate to get a bye into the semi-final on Saturday morning. The outcome was a win for Reading by 1.25 lengths in a time of 3.29. This was exactly the same result as the other semi-final.
The crew consisted of Colin Hunt, Trevor Barton, Steve Sangster, Simon Lamb, Chris Wisbey (BRC), Iain Blackley, Dave Taylor, Andy Lynn. Cox Ian Darnell (BRC).”
Men’s Masters F Single Sculls
Lester Waugh had a steady start in his Class F1 quarter-final, being a length down at 400 metres to the British National Masters Singles Champion. By 650m the gap was down to half a length with a close finish in prospect. However, an unkind launch wash nudged Lester’s boat to stroke side resulting in him clipping the barrier and handing victory to Adey (Walton RC) by two lengths.