Barnes and Mortlake Regatta 2013
The club had a good day at Borne last year, and the 2013 event has turned out well for us too. In a post-Olympic flood of enthusiasm it's been hard to get an entry accepted, so for many of us, this was the first regatta of the season.
First up for the club was your correspondent in MasC/D 1x, making a rare regatta appearance. Hopes of an easy first round were quickly dashed by De Maria of Putney Town who refused to give up and maintained an overlap right the way down the course. The verdict was just three quarters of a length, and it felt like less.
Still struggling with oxygen debt I landed at Mortlake Alpha and Anglian Rowing Club in time to see our IM2 4- in a forget-to-breath-out close finish with Thames Rowing Club. The men in red, black and white got it by a foot - the turn of the bend towards Middlesex favouring them as the line approached.
Revenge came swiftly though as our other IM2 4- crushed them in the next round by four lengths. Things didn't go quite so well in the IM3 4+ race where we were squeezed out by Walton.
Last year's category winners Faith and Anna were not racing this year, leaving Lju to represent Sons single scullers. All I know about her IM3 race is the terse Twitter feed two lengths verdict. I did see her other race at novice where she narrowly lost to an accomplished looking sculler. It's never easy in a single but Lju's first win can't be far away.
And so to my MasD 1x final against Grylls of MA&A. I tried a race-pace burst paddling up to the course from Hammersmith but felt so tired after the previous round I didn't bother with any others. In fact, sitting on the start I'd pretty much thought myself into the loser's position, a state of mind not improved by an awful wobble on the very first stroke. Luckily a decent wind brought me back on terms, with the boats level for stroke after stroke. In a mind-wiping effort I remember thinking that I had two artificial legs, both of which had blown oil seals. Only towards the end did the bow ball of the Empacher slowly recede. I continued to row at race pace past Chiswick Pier, unable to understand that I'd crossed the line. It was great to get a pot up at MA&A and it would be churlish not to acknowledge the friendly efficiency of all the volunteers there. It's a well-run regatta Borne and everyone I spoke to, including my opponents, were really nice.
Something had to go wrong eventually of course, so I managed to lose my pot struggling to empty a flooded footwell back at the Sons pontoon. A combination of wind on tide and a sailing regatta had churned up some of the worst water I've ever seen.
Into these sea-like conditions I could see Sam and Drago paddling off for their IM2 2x final, waves slapping over their double. In a way, as rower coaches, they put themselves on the line by competing together but never missed a beat coming in three lengths ahead of a Thames RC crew. It was Sam's second win of the day.
All in all a really enjoyable day and a promising indicator for the men's squad.