Monday, 4 April 2011

Vesta Vets Head 2011

Sunday dawned bright and clear for the Vesta Vets Head 2011. Well, it did so after we'd been burning down the M11 for about an hour, since we'd had to get up well before dawn. Simon, Ralph and I went down together, having met up with James H, Andy and Ollie at Queens. The rest of our fine crew were to meet us in London. Before we left Queens, I counted the riggers and seats again in my boot, not wishing to "do a Press". The boat itself we'd waved off on Friday night, so it sat on a trailer all Saturday (ahem). Despite getting a teensy bit lost in London once we came off the M4 (a mixture of my driving and Ralph's "old school" navigating: no GPS, just bits of paper) we arrived in good time, easily found a parking spot, and the boat and the crew. Simon and Amy were to "bank party" us, doing stuff like taking away the wellies and helping with the blades. And cheering from the bridge :-).

As you see from Simon's pic (ripped from the copy on Amy's blog) it is a busy scene far removed from the quiet Cam, though not nearly as busy as the HORR the day before (see here for our 2010 entry). Also fortunately James T decided to hustle us into the water as about the second to boat, so we missed all the hurry and the crush.

We had time for a relaxed paddle up to the start, then a spin and paddle down with the stream a little, which was useful to get a feel for rowing-with-the-stream, since it is far stronger than we're used to. The wind was slight, conditions good. Spin and head back for the start, more crews around now. About half an hour of faff keeping on station as the crews around closed in; Press just near us.

And then the off; the thing embedded here (assuming it is working) is the GPS track from my watch. So we all get to see and carp at James's line, though it looks OK to me. If you know a way to compare it to the "one true line" do let me know. The splits, as measured by my watch, are awesome: around 3:05 per km to start with (i.e. just over 1:30 per 500m), falling to 3:10 then 3:15 at the end. However, those are speed-over-ground and include the stream, so they are meaningless, except insofar as they tell you how fast the stream was. James was reporting splits of 1:45 falling to 1:50 I think, so the stream was making a difference of about :15. So the stream was running at 0.64 m/s, if my maths has come out right. Does that sound right?

The row itself was quite uneventful. We were together, we were fit enough to stop getting ragged, we rowed solidly all the way at about 29 I think. We got overtaken twice: once by a bunch of Italians (but I like to think that if they had come all this way over, they were probably pretty good. We saw them in Vesta boathouse afterwards: they even had rucksacks made up specially for the occasion and had Nick Lee standard of kit), and once by someone else. It rather reminded me of a recent article in "Rowing and Regatta": with head racing, you've got no idea how well you've done during the race, or indeed afterwards, until much later when the results come out.

vets-head-xls DSCN1761-oops Which brings me on to the results: our time was 21:21 and our place was 67th (of 204). James T had taken a flying guess and aimed for "top 20" but clearly we were some way away from that. I got all nerdy and drew a pic in Excel (it took me ages to work out how to do selections) of time against finish position, colour coded by class. We're the big blue dot. It is the familair S-shaped curve, but apart from that I'm not really sure it says anything useful.

I won't overload this post with toooo many pix, because I'm ripping them off Amy, who has more and better. Go look at her post.

But I can't resist one last mystery pic, on the left: what it this, and what is missing ;-?

After the row, and de-rigging and splitting the boat, we retired to Vesta for a well earned bit of food and drink, and a stand on the balcony in the sun watching the world go by. Then home time: the drive back (in our case, via Hammersmith, to retrieve Simon's splendid banner) wasn't too painful (unless you were Andy stuck on the Sarth Circular). Re-rigging the boat at 6 finished off the day, leaving me free to collapse in a heap on the living room floor at about 9.

And lastly, here we all are (again, pic from Simon):

Left to Right: Mr L Bin; Tom Watt; William Dulyea; Mr Oliver Crabb, Esquire; Dr Andrew Southgate; James "Curvaceous" Tidy; Dr James Howard; Dr William "Please learn not to smile like that" Connolley; Chris Wood; Ralph "Distant" Hancock.

And just after lastly... a pic from BigBlade embedded here with permission:

[Update: we get a mention in "Regatta", which Amy spotted: "Sixty-seventh placed Chesterton RC may not have won [the Vets Head] but they were the technical wizards of the race, leaving a GPS track of the route they steered, their splits, and even working out the speed of the stream" - Rowing and Regatta magazine May 2011.]


* Amy's view
* My pix on flickr (or will be, when I upload them)
* Simon's pix on facebook
* Full results

1 comment:

  1. If I might have a minor carp with the line: The stream goes around the outside of the bends not straight down the middle of the river. I'd say we were slightly inside the line at Chiswick Pier and way inside the line around Fulham flats - I reckon the best stream would be found the other side of the T H and A of Thames (zoomed until the 0.5 mile scale shows). However, in James defence we were driven inside by the boat that passed us half a mile downstream of Hammersmith Bridge and anyway he did a hell of a lot better than I would have done!