27 amazing athletes, 6 superb crews and 2 golds for Star Club (for the second year running!!)
by Holly Keats
The water was high but the spirits were higher for Star’s senior ladies’ squad as they competed at Fuller’s Fours head in two quads. The rain held off for most of the day and boating from Putney Town Rowing Club offered a challengingly precarious entry to the river Thames down some very steep steps to enter the water. With over 400 crews racing, and each being sent off individually there was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait to get to the start line.
The first Star quad through the start saw Ellie Sadler in the stroke seat, backed up by Lexie Titterington and Freya Parry in the middle, and headed up by Ellie Bennewith in bow. This crew set off hard, with a mixture of experience in the boat – they executed their race plan, they overtook four crews higher up the order to finish in 9th in the 4x category.
The second quad saw one of the squad’s newest recruits, Rachel Coowar at stroke, supported by Becca Thompson and Holly Keats in the grunt seats and navigated by Ellie Feltham at bow. The quad crossed the start line and were immediately pursued by two strong Cantabs quads who they held off past the first bridge. With the wind picking up as they rounded the bend towards Hammersmith Bridge, the quad continued to gain on a crew from Durham. Having passed them, the last 50m saw a battle to the finish line between Star and a women’s 4+ from Agecroft, with blades clashing and muscles burning, Star bested them by 0.9 of a second to secure 15th place in the 4x category.
A fantastic effort from a squad which has put the hours in the gym and on the water and turned it into something positive. This race is a mark in the sand for the squad to build on, and could not have been achieved without the coaching and ceaseless support from Dave Kempsell, Ian Donald and Georgia Gowing.
Although here ends the race report, it should be noted that the rowing did not end at the finish line, with the women putting in the valiant work of then rowing back up the full length of the course, against the tide, to take the boats out. 21 minutes down and an hour back up the river tested all of them, but 8 women clambered back up the steep steps, and it was done.
What a squad!
by sue lamb
The Women’s Masters entered a coxed quad into Fours Head. This is a mixed age category for scullers of mixed ability to gain experience on Tideway. Jo French, Sue Lamb and cox Janet Williams joined forces with two ladies from Cantabs for the race. We were the last boat to race in the event (crew 215) and missed having boats to push off and a stream to help, but we were very fortunate with the weather. We came third in our category out of four boats.
G4+ by colin hunt
The G4+ has been training hard for this event, with race pace 6k pieces, along with 4k technical pieces, to make sure that we are moving together at all stages of the stroke. So we were confident we would do well.
We were placed at the end of the G4+ entries, so we knew that to win we would need to do some over taking. This is always where you risk losing time if the crews don’t give way, as you lose stream in getting around them.
Our instruction to the cox, was not to overload us with information. Just tell us when we are about to overtake a crew and only give us rate calls if we drop below 31. Thankfully, we didn’t need any rate calls! We went off well, but it did take about 2k to get as long and lose as we have in training. This was probably down to the 45 minutes or so wait time at the start – one of the disadvantages of starting so far down the event – you wait longer and you lose a lot of the benefit from the stream.
We powered past our opposition, Weybridge and Lea, quite early on. By Barnes Bridge we had also overtaken several F4 crews that started in front of us, along with some W C 4x crews. We kept our shape and length through Chiswick and managed a slight increase in rate to empty the tanks through to the finish.
We met our goals:
- Win our category
- Beat all other clubs at the younger ‘F’ category
- Finish within 45 seconds of our Star club ‘F’ crew. We finished only 34 seconds behind.
Bonus was to beat Abingdon, our rivals at ‘F’ category in previous years. Despite rowing in an older crew category, we actually managed to increase our margin of victory over them by 10 seconds!
I would also like to give my thanks to Sara from BRC who coxed us so well on the day and all those cold mornings up to the event. Without her, we could not have competed.
F4+ by david sogan
Conditions were near perfect with just a light breeze and flat water. It was raced on the flood tide and, due to the quantity of water still flowing down, there was very little stream. Just as we reached the start, our coxbox packed up, so we made plans for messages to be relayed from the cox to Lenny, our bow man, to the rest of the crew.
Our start position was at the head of the Men’s F coxed fours and behind Women’s A & B coxed fours.
We settled into a good rhythm from the off and overtook our first crew by Harrods and a second crew just before Hammersmith Bridge. Ben, our cox, steered a perfect line through the bridge, taking a slightly tighter line than usual due to the lack of stream. The crew settled at about rate 30 and soon caught up further crews. Lenny gave some great calls, urging the crew to overtake quickly and push on. Just past Chiswick Eyot, a Reading crew didn’t get out of our way and we had a brief clash of blades. Again, Ben did a fantastic job of threading us through a number of slower crews largely without incident and without losing speed. The crew pushed on at Barnes Bridge, taking a tight line and passing more crews. By now we could see we had moved a good distance away from the other F4+ crews behind us. A series of pushes were called by Lenny at Chiswick Bridge, Quintin and 20 strokes out and the crew finished at rate 32.
Despite the issue with the cox box, we won the F4+ event by 49 seconds and also beat all but one of the D4+ and E4+ crews.