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Two Solid Wins For Star Rowers at Head of the Trent

Seven crews with Star Rowers advanced up the A1 last Sunday to tackle 5,700m of gruelling race and two scored impressive wins. Star Club’s senior mens coxless four won division three in a time of 18:49, easily beating City of Sheffield (20:10) into second place in B1.4- and Chris Callow’s Star/ Peterborough/ Leicester Quad won Mas.A/B/C.4x in a course time of 20:03. Five other crews battled the conditions and may not have come away with prizes, but carried the Star name proudly over the finishing line.

Cold weather and tough conditions seem to have been a feature of recent race reports and this one’s no exception. I was in one of the boats and I can tell you, it was tough! Many lessons were learned and spurs earned and the Masters crews now focus on the Vesta head at the end of March and the senior men start to look towards the summer season.

Photos are on Ben Rodford’s Photoshelter site and Star Clubs are in Division 1 and Division 3. Race reports from the crews are below – I hope you enjoy them!



Mens Senior Coxless Four

The winning team reports: “Nottingham head of the Trent was one of the last major head races for the senior men, before we move onto the summer season racing. Setting high standards, we knew we’d only be content with the best result, a resounding victory in band 1 4- category.

“Despite the tough conditions on the day, the plan was executed across the challenging course, punching out the rhythm we had targeted: negotiating all of the bridges successfully (just!); with the entry named in honour of the clubs illustrious president David Dixon; the fastest time in division 3, as well as the fastest four of the day by a minute and 22 seconds.

Job done. The Star Club mens 4- is Ally Satchwill, Michael Ruta, Lloyd Mulkerrins and Thomas Durrant.”

Masters A/B/C Quad Sculls (Composite Star/Peterborough/Leicester)

A clear win and the 2nd fastest small boat time in Div 1.

Womens J18 Quad Sculls

Catherine Upex reports: “With the boy’s squad out of action due to injury, it was up to the girl’s quad to bring home a meaningful result from Nottingham Head. The 5.7km course, as well as windy conditions and the cold, racing against other experienced and established boats, was to be the biggest challenge that the relatively newly-formed crew had faced yet. However all four girls, though nervous, boated with high spirits, determined to keep moral up.

“In the end the girls had a race to be proud of. Millie Wardley at stroke, maintained a lively rhythm throughout, spurring the crew on with a series of boosting calls. Despite some difficulty, Catherine Upex at bow, negotiated the bends of the course, ensuring the boat took the fastest route down. Abi Nwang and Hannah Hawkins, the middle pair, displayed excellent endurance, perfectly living up to their role as the “engine” of the boat. All four girls rowed a consistent race and powered through the course, all agreeing at the end that 5.7km isn’t that far after all!

“The quad ended up in third place, behind Warrington and Nottingham and were pleased to beat rivals Bedford Modern School by three seconds – a small but satisfying victory.”

Womens Masters E Eight

Liz Appleton reports: “Resilience and persistence were needed both on and off the water when it came to Sunday’s race at Masters of Trentside. The Masters Women were starting to think that their opportunity to race in the Women’s Masters D/E eights event would be scuppered when two last minute subs were needed – one for regular stroke Julie Clarke who’d been struck by ‘flu and another for the kind volunteer to tow the trailer. But thanks to the efforts of Captain Janet Williams and subs Alison Winder and Mike Harris, the show was back on the road.

cold at the start“The crew arrived at Trentside at 8.00 am in sub-zero conditions, ready for the first division at 10.00 am. With Julie incapacitated, Rhonda Lawrence moved into the stroke seat and led the crew of Jo French, Liz Appleton, Lynne Taylor, Alison Winder, Janet Williams, Karen Fulford and Bernie Smith up to the start. Before the race, the wind seemed relatively light… though the row to the start seemed suspiciously easy given that it was supposedly against a strong stream. Once the crew turned ready to race they realised the full extent of the challenge that faced them, as they battled into what seemed a relentless wall of wind and waves.

“Doughty Rhonda nevertheless led the crew over at an unfailing 30 strokes per mins, the crew urged on by the eloquence of Sarah Russell in the cox’s seat. This line-up had had its first outing together just the day before, but nevertheless formed a cohesive unit, moving well together in the challenging conditions. The crew achieved an adjusted time of 23 minutes 21 seconds, just 15 seconds behind Bradford ARC’s Masters D crew. The category winners were, however, York RC, a very classy Masters D crew already known to some of us from previous occasions, who achieved an impressive time of 22.06.

“Our big shout out on this occasion goes to the hero of the day, Mike Harris, who stepped in at the very last minute to take the trailer up to Nottingham for us. Thank you Mike, we couldn’t have got there without you. And big thanks too to Sarah for agreeing to cox this race. Sarah is arguably the most experienced rower in our squad, so it was a privilege to have her in the cox’s seat, drawing upon her experience to say the things that would keep us going.

“The Master’s Women’s next event will be the big one, Vesta Veteran’s Head of the River Race on Sunday 25th March. Our experience on the Trent provided a very valuable lesson in terms of the technique that will needed on the Tideway, especially if we encounter the difficult combination of a fast stream and head wind.”

Mens Masters D Eight (composite Star/Bedford)

A challenging row, hampered by crews ahead. No silverware from Trent, but dogged resolve to keep improving.

Mens Masters E Eight

David Gowing reports: “The men’s Masters E VIII, defending their title from last year, had the bit between their teeth with the stroke pair of Colin Hunt and Trevor Barton setting off at an initial rate of 36, lengthening to 33, which they maintained down the opening straight where the Star crew made ground on the surrounding opposition.

“It was the crew’s first race in “Nigel Brewer,” which provided a stable platform and seemed to be running well. But, when it encountered the long sweeping meanders along the Victoria embankment, Jill Edgeley in the cox’s seat found her steering constrained by the boat’s diminutive rudder and had to call on Dave Taylor and Andy Crook, rowing strokeside in the bows to drag the boat through a 180 degree turn.

“Jill kept her cool as blades swept past the concrete plinth of a bridge with four to five inches to spare. The pressure then turned to Andy Lynn and Dom Hawes as the bow-side counterparts to pull the boat around an even longer corner in the opposite direction with only limited assistance from the rudder.

“The final 2k was mercifully straight, allowing the engine room of Simon Lamb and David Gowing to take back the main work, overtaking two other crews as the finish loomed. The rate had been maintained at 33 throughout, building to 34 for the final push and the line was safely crossed with high hopes of success. However, the results revealed Star to be placed third with the three leading crews having finished within 4 seconds of one another and the honours went to a Grosvenor VIII from Chester. The crew already look forward to next-year’s re-match, armed with a larger rudder!”

Mens Masters E Eight (composite Bedford/Star)

With five Star rowers featuring in the composite E boat and this being only its second competitive outing, hopes for a good progressive performance were high. Sadly, the boat hit a rogue piece of flotsam on the row down to the start and was hit by technical issues on the race back. A gate malfunction under the suspension bridge was deftly repaired on the move, but the lost time couldn’t be recouped. Star rowers were: Andy Chillingsworth, David Cestaro, Mark Fulford, Bob Whiteman and Chris Higham.

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