The Club's Results
Great River Race, Summer 2005
A 22 mile head race from Ham in West London to Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs, attracting traditional and modern fixed seat rowing boats and paddle craft.
Sat 17th September
The official results published by the organisers, The Great River Race, can be found here. At the bottom of this page there is a link to Cambridge weather. Club members, please go here to add (or correct) results, crews or race reports.
Basically some bright spark decided about 15 years ago that there should be a race for traditional boats on the Thames. So they created this - a 22 mile race from Richmond to Greenwich. In keeping with the "traditional" theme, it was decided that crews should carry both a cox and a passenger, and boats should be fixed seat. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that Atlantic Rowing boats were somehow traditional - and thus we entered.
The race is run on a handicap system: each boat is "scientifically" measured to find out how fast it should go, and boats are therefore set off at such a time that everybody should finish exactly together. So the first boat (a comedy half barrel effort) had a handicap of 0; with a handicap of +3 we set off 3 minutes later, and a hour and a half later, the really swift boats with a handicap of ~90 got going.
Pulling nearly a tonne of boat is reasonably hard work, although we're pretty used to it by now. To do so for 3.5 hours without using your legs is something akin to cruel and unusual punishment. We set off with high hopes, but in retrospect I don't think we'd realised quite how hard it would be!
Nevertheless, starting 6th in the field, we got into a good aggressive rhythm for the first half hour or so, completely ditched two of the other three Atlantic boats, overtook the boats in front of us, and opened out a gap of about 100m over the third Atlantic boat and a smaller skiff. We had noticed that the other Atlantic boat had read the rules better than us, and their cox and passenger were switching with the rowers at regular intervals. Our suggestions that Bron and Sophie got on the oars didn't meet with much enthusiasm... Nevertheless we were gradually pulling away from them and were feeling good coming down the boat race course. Yay us.
Sadly around Chiswick Eyot we found that we were rapidly losing ground, at which point we realised we were pulling a large tree that was stuck in our rudder. By the time we had noticed and removed it, the two crews near us had come past and were about 100m ahead. We spent the next half hour or so absolutely pulling our guts out trying to get back on terms, but it wasn't to be. It became clear that their rotations were going to mean they could stay ahead of us.
After a while of rowing in complete isolation, around halfway we found that other boats were coming up on us - only a few at first, but increasingly many as time went on. What had become a long hard slog was transformed into a long hard slog with fun stuff to look at - all the difference in the world. We kept pushing ourselves as much as we could, and eventually crossed the line in 3:39:33 - a pretty creditable effort. The faster Atlantic boat beat us by 21 mins, which we've decided is not that much given that they only rowed half the race each.
As an event, it was all pretty cool, and in a more suitable boat we would be well up for doing this again - if Mr Blackburn can get hold of one of the 1829 boatrace boats (which start pretty much last), it could be one long overtaking party!
Lastly, we have to thank Bron and Sophie for making the effort to come along, and to those people who gave us a shout from the bank - it really made a difference. Bring on a proper length race (but let us use our legs!)
1. Passing Richmond Bridge
2. Just past Waterloo B...
3. Just past Waterloo B...