Tuesday 13 November 2012

Vet’s Fours Head 2012

54720_10151163289905787_19433591_o [By Lorraine.]

Pic at start.
Somewhere else.
On facebook.

With the training done it was time to take lovely old Spare Rib down to a proper river - The Thames - for the Vet’s Fours Head. The race time was 1.30 so Anne, Joss, Alex and I set off at a leisurely 8.30 for our day trip to Town. It was a glorious Autumn day, blue skies and no wind as we headed into London to Tideway Scullers to pick up our number. Then off to Sons of the Thames Boatclub where we were boating from. Spare Rib was already there having gone down on the trailer the day before for the Fours Head. We met up with Robert, our cox, who had also been down in London coxing a City crew in the Fours Head the day before. With Spare Rib re-rigged we boated and set off up the Thames to our marshalling point on the Surrey bend. But there was a problem, the calls from our cox, harder on bowside followed by harder on stroke side becoming more and more frequent it quickly became apparent that we had no steering from the rudder. Were we going to have to scratch…racing 7km on the Thames with no rudder just wasn’t an option. Then everything suddenly got better, whatever Thames debris that was stuck on our rudder had obviously became unstuck. We managed to sidle up to a bowloader and get their cox to check our rudder who confirmed it was now clear, we could then “relax.” Although on the Thames with the flow you constantly have to tap just to stay in position. Before too long it was time for Division 4 to spin and out we went into the Thames and heading for the start at Chiswick Bridge…

And the race began. We were number 183 in the Master B category. As a rower the race itself passed in a manic blur. We were passed pretty much at the start by the winners of our category and by a couple of quads during the race, which is to be expected as they have eight blades and no cox! Robert kept us focussed with lots of encouraging calls. We kept a steady 30 strokes a minute and our splits averaged 1.40 - Thanks to the Thames stream!!! Coming under Hammersmith we heard Simon’s cheers “Come on Chesterton” which gave us a lift and then we knew we only had a Cam head course left to race! Then before we knew it Robert was calling for the last two minutes, we had a quad to hold off which we did and then it was wind it down and it was all over. Those of us in the bows were soaked through – thanks to Joss’s early catches and then we had the slow row back up to our boating point, coping with the chop and low flying geese. We were cold and wet but happy. We got the boat out of the water and then went into the Sons of the Thames bar for a well earned cup of tea. Then, de-rigging, boat-loading and home, via the CRA, to once again walk Spare Rib through the back streets of Cambridge safely into Peterhouse and home in time for Strictly!!!

Our time was 23.49 which was a three minute improvement on last year. We were 4th out of 5 in our category and 171st out of 199 boats to start, but were pleased with our performance and can’t wait to do it again. Rowing the Thames really is one of those must do experiences.

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