The Club's Results

Peterborough Summer Regatta, Summer 2009

1st men's VIII, Composite VIII with Vesta (IM2 8+)

1st men's VIII
in Black Prince
bow Will Laffan 2 Gonzalo Garcia
3 Peter Ford 4 Unknown
5 Unknown 6 John Kiely
7 James Strawson str Tom Coker

Coxed by: Emma SalgÄrd Cunha

Heats
Won by a couple of seats
Time: 3:03
Having met our 2 Vesta crew members, Chris Joynes and Nick Ireland, at about 10:30 we settled on a crew order and went out for a paddle on the river. After Strawson in particular had spent a few strokes throwing water towards the stern, we quickly ascertained that Vesta's C2s were much nicer, tho seemingly quite differently pitched, than our Crokers and quickly settled into quite a solid rhythm. The paddling I think exceeded most people's expectations, and the initially ropey ratework improved quickly; 801 seems not to do sound in the bows, so bow pair only knew we were doing bursts if I told them, or by noticing everyone else rowing a bit faster.
Chris initially seemed to be struggling a bit; he certainly seemed a bit shocked when I told him Coker has a tendency to go off starts at 50. We only found out during the day that he had only started rowing in November, which makes his performance in the races very impressive; I'm not sure any of our novices would have been able to contribute in the same way.

Anyway, to the actual race; all the controlled aggression we'd displayed during the practise starts disappeared and we all just attacked the water at random moments, causing us to lose a few seats immediately and more shortly after. By 250 we were about half a length down on Lea, and I think it may have got out to 3/4 of a length? The other two crews were well back, so both crews were going to be through to the final, it was just a question of pride/lanes. After various pushes, none of which were heard in the bows unless accompanied by a roar from James, we held their advance and started coming back; 3 tens (presumably...) in the last 250 started getting us really moving and we came through a surprised looking Lea to win by a couple of seats. (Peter)
Final
2nd by a length and a bit (4s)
Time: 3:01
Knowing we'd been together as a crew for a full 140 minutes longer, we were hoping for a more co-ordinated start and some semblance of a catch from 4. However our tideway contacts had informed us the quite nifty-looking Thames crew who won the other semi contained their 'big Henley guys' and had probably also met each other prior to 10:30 that morning. Much as rowing in 801 did bring back many fond memories, I am still worried that that boat was built out of bricks and mortar and I'm afraid nostalgia is no match for a shiny 'pacher (one of only a handful at P'boro, which ought to introduce a veteran category for shells). The final line-up was completed by some dodgy Peterborough composite (who we'd notice develop a fondness for the bank halfway down the world's straightest head course earlier in the day) as well as the already vanquished Lea 8.

It was certainly a faster start than before, and this time we didn't hand the Lea crew any real advantage out of the blocks. The rather well-drilled Thames boat got off to a flyer, which continued for pretty much the next 1000m meanwhile the Peterborough 8 lived up to its billing and proved, as we had suspected, steering wasn't its only deficiency. I can't say exactly how the rest of the race went as I was pretty busy killing myself. TC set rates I hadn't seen for a while and although Lea held us for a while, they eventually dropped back leaving us chasing the Thames 8 a length or so ahead. At the halfway mark, Strawson decided it was an appropriate moment to demonstrate you can turn the boat from the 7 seat, although only by doing a grizzly bear impression; to avert a navigational hiccup, the rest of the crew joined in, with the bows getting the gist of the mid-race push a few strokes later. The effort was pretty much flat out from the word go and predictably the wheels started to come off in the last quarter, by which time the result wasn't in any doubt. We claimed our respectable 2nd place in a less respectable time of 3:01, 4s behind Thames.

At least with this rate of improvement, while averaging an admirable 6 and a half outings per day, we can claim we would have won if the race had been held at 10:20 that night. I can only complain to Peterborough Rowing Club about the lack of floodlights, although on the other hand that might not be the best of ideas.

It was good fun to see everyone again, and shove my old and new rowing partners into an 8 fast enough to drag me along. Hope everyone enjoyed it. (Will L)

1. FaT/vesta
2. FaT/vesta


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