'twas a gloriously sunny early winter's day, and we headed off to Ely for the Small Boats Head, which for us meant IVs. It was wonderful to be able to get up at a civilised hour - we met at Queens at 9:30, having de-rigged yesterday - and set off for Ely with Quadcoque and Spare Rib on Queens' trailer, accompanied by some quite interesting fungus.
Our division was 12, but the start was at the end of a 5 km course, plus 1.5 km to the finish line, so we were supposed to be ready to boat by 11. Which proved to be no great trouble.
We can't quite remember why we've never done this race before. Perhaps its new.
I recall the Ely rigging-grounds from the Great Ouse Half Marathon, its a somewhat bizarre place: "Death Race 2000 meets Wind in the Willows" as a certain Mr P. Holland put it. Here he is supervising the riggers as they get down to work.
Ely only has a couple of landing stages, and only one for IVs really, so there's a bit of a queue, but they do try to manage your boating times. From there its 6.5 km downstream (but today, against the wind) to the start at Littleport. And its nearly but not quite dead straight. We mostly just "settled", not having rowed in this crew for a while, but threw in a couple of tolerable bursts of high rating - it takes us a while to stabalise. James pointed out a few landmarks along the way, but really the only one is the Lark at 2 km into the race. But, as it turned out, they also provided km signs (and somewhat unhelpfully a marshall at about 700 m from the finish who shouted "you've got a km to go").
At Littleport we sat around waiting for the start, and failed to pull into the landing stages, so I couldn't turn my GoPro on (motto: turn the thing on before you push off; still, one of the reasons for bringing it was to learn lessons like that). Some crews had clearly failed to boat on time, and the division was about 15 mins late.
We were a little nervous over the start line, and thinking it was at the bridge when actually it was someone earlier didn't help; but pretty soon we settled down and things were going well. With a tailwind we were hovering a little over 2:00 splits, but pleasingly they were stable, as was the rating at ~29. It felt a a bit fragile: hovering on the verge of not being sat enough to row well, needing attention from most of us to keep it stable, not leaving us quite enough free to really put oomph down. And it stayed like that for 5 km, which is quite good really. Through the race I was watching the sculler behind us: he gained on us off the start, then we held place, then he slowly slipped back after 3 km. In the end, we beat him by a second. But for a scull, it was impressive.
The full results are available from IOERC: we got 20:40, third in our division and eighth overall (my PB running time for 5 km is 20:38). The ladies came 42nd in 23:45.
Here we all are, afterwards, in the Ely club car park:
[Ian Foster, James Tidy, William Connolley, Dave Richards (Paul Holland underneath), Annie West, Meg Richards, Simon Emmings, Bailee Stratton and Anne Roberts.]
There was tea and there was cakes. And then we trundled back to Cambridge, for a drink in the last of the sunshine outside the Fort.
Update: us on the course:
from http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/33359327_XkFWdh#!i=2898477497&k=gHkTbtD, which is I think http://www.davidboughey.com/
And the ladies: