Star Club and Composites Take On Tideway In Vesta Masters’ Head
Three Eights and a quad scull featuring Star rowers travelled to London in the early hours of 25th March to tackle the Tideway. Less than 24 hours after Cambridge’s clean sweep in the Boat Race, our crews rowed the course in reverse and did our name proud. With one win and strong placings for the other crews, it’s clear that winter training has paid off and the masters’ squad looks forward to the regatta season with gusto.
Open Masters 4x – Star Club/Peterborough City RC/Leicester BC/Upper Thames RC Composite
Winners of the Open Masters Quad Pennant and 20th overall
Chris Callow reports: The Vets Head of the River had not been an event we had intended on racing given that traditionally it’s an event for Masters Eights. For the first time in its history, the Organising Committee decided to open up the event to Masters Quads, however with our stoke man already committed to racing in the Peterborough City RC Masters E Eight we were unable to enter. Having made this decision, some weeks later I received an email from the Organising Committee Chairman asking if we were going to enter, so we re-considered our options. The conclusion we reached was that we’d only race with a substitute stroke man onboard if a certain individual in the name of Thomas Carter from Upper Thames RC was available to race. Without too much hesitation Thomas agreed to race, so we then found ourselves with our entry in and only three weeks till race day!
“On Sunday 25th March, with a lack of sleep due to the clocks going forward, we were London bound to take on the Vets Head of the River over the 6,800m Boat Race course. Having had a quick pre-race paddle on the course going through our warm up, we proceeded to the marshalling area where we ended up sitting for over an hour before we raced! The joys of starting near to the back of the start order…… We knew before we raced that there would be a fair amount of overtaking of crews with the responsibility of steering falling to me in the bow seat, but we were ready for this and knew what we had to do.
“At 11:35 it was time for us to turn onto the course and proceed to the start line. Paddling steady state through Chiswick Bridge the GO call came where we stepped up onto a rate of 38 through the line setting a committed rhythm to draw down onto. After a minute of paddling the rhythm call came and we settled onto our race rate of 32/33.
“Only a couple of minutes into the race we found ourselves fast approaching the Masters A quad from Furnivall RC who started ahead of us and a further two women’s eights, with Barnes Bridge looming. We managed to overtake all three crews before the bridge without our pace or rhythm being affected.
“Now entering the long stretch from Barnes to Hammersmith, this period of the race was about maintaining our pace (splits 1:30-1:38), making technical calls to ensure we all maintain our focus and looking to extend away from our opposition behind. A further two crews were passed before Hammersmith Bridge and with perfect racing conditions and the course nearing its final 2000m we were ready to step on at Hammersmith.
“The call came and we re-established a rhythm of 33 looking for quick hands and sharp catches. At this point we knew we were moving fast but knowing we had to maintain to the finish line if we wanted a chance of winning. Coming into the final straight along the Embankment, three calls for home with the rate peaking at 38, but nothing left in the tank, the finish line came and we had given our all for each other.
“Now the long paddle back to Barnes Bridge to disembark where we eventually made it back 3hrs after boating! After boat loading, debrief and a cuppa we learnt that we managed to pull of the win in the Open Masters Quad event and finish 20th overall out of 200+ starters. A great way to sign-off our Head season, with focus now turning to the Regatta season in just over a month.”
Star/Bedford Masters D VIII
Kevan Armstrong reports: “The weather and water conditions at tideway couldn’t have been much better. The overall preparation for the race had been a bit patchy, but since the late addition of Will Todd, the boat had been feeling pretty good in training. We had opted to try and achieve a higher rate at Tideway.
“We started at 36 and soon settled at 33 moving to 32. The first ten minutes of the race went pretty well overtaking an Italian crew who offered little resistance. I think we had some launch wash between the eyot and Hammersmith bridge which left us struggling a little to regain composure.
“After Harrods we were battling to overtake Vesta who were sticking to their water pretty rigidly, eventually overtaking them and another crew on the run into the finish. We were disappointed, however, to be caught by Henley/Upper Thames the eventual winners of our category shortly before the finish.
“4th in D and 29th overall was sort of par for the course. With largish gaps ahead and some tight bunching behind, we were grateful that the crews from Trent Head were still behind us in the finish order. A roller coaster winter.”
Star Club Masters E VIII
David Taylor reports: “Good conditions on the Tideway this year with light winds and mainly calm water meant that the event ran smoothly.
“With alarm clocks going off at 4am it was a very early start, compounded by the Spring clock change. However, after a pre-race cup of tea at Putney Town Rowing Club, the Masters E crew stroked by Colin Hunt had a good solid row, ably coxed by Jill Edgeley in her usual calm, efficient manner.
“The boat overtook three crews on the course, including one that was reluctant to move aside and caught a Molesey crew starting just ahead of them at the finish. The end result of 9th out of a very large entry of 29 crews was a respectable one given the quality of the field. After a welcome lunch at the Ship in Mortlake it was early evening before the boats arrived back. A long but enjoyable day.”