City make an impact at FISA world masters

The City of Cambridge Rowing Club last weekend sent a crack rowing squad to Vienna to compete in the World Masters (Veteran) Rowing Competition. This prestigeous event attracts around five thousand competitors from around the world, with very high standards.



vienna5We, the Vet-A Team, jetted out (with much muttering of "I ain't getting on no plane, fool!") the night before being due to compete. Having hired boats, and a race first thing in the morning, this meant no time to set up the boats (there wasn't anywhere to test a configuration and you weren't meant to be changing anything other than the footplates anyway).

Upon arrival, we accosted Grumpy Fat German Lance to find our boat - an Empacher copy by the name of Starline - not really a good omen! It had no cox box wires (bow loader!), and the rudder wired up the wrong way (and the rudder wires not long enough to change over). Ah well, it'll be fine. We thought...

Upon getting in the boat, we found it reasonbly nice if a little heavy, but not having rowed in it, or with the oars before, just different.

At the start, we waited nervously, eyeing the competition in their national kits. Erk! The umpire read the roll call - I love being called 'Great Britain'! Attention.

Beep! We're off to a good start, possibly winning. Little bit of weaving, BA in the bow (James) relaying instructions from Amy (Hannah). Bit of a wiggle, and haven't really settled, and, er, are we meant to be in this lane? We battled to stay in the race, but even with BA relaying as much information as he could from Amy, it wasn't the same as a cox box (it was almost as if he had something better to be doing with his breath than talk...).

We snaked up the course, and found ourselves 3/4 of a length down off the leaders nearing the end. Beep! It's over, and we'd come 4th. Bum. Next time, bring your own boat... Time of 3:31.27

Next up were Murdoc's (Me) and Hannibal's (Steve) single races, seperated by 3 minutes, Hannibal up first.

Hannibal, with cigar firmly clamped in his mouth, got off to a good start, but due to the intense competition and the hire boat, he found himself down in 6th place. With a steely determination, he came up with a plan to come back at least one place from there. Working hard and fast, he pushed past the opposition to come back finish in 5th! I love it when a plan comes together! Time of 4:01.69

I, Murdoc, floating in my oversized (100kg) tanker, missed the start due to a lack of role call, and a super quick "AttentionBeep!" Still, not to be phased I pushed back into contention for 2nd, with the first place German out in the clear. Within the last 200m, the German was going to win, and I was slightly behind the next 5, and pushed hard for the line, catching up. Finishing altogether (within 1 & 1/2 seconds), I didn't know where I'd come. 2nd? No, 3rd? 4th? 5th? No. 6th. Bum. Time of 3:48.27

So, after a light night on the town, the A-Team were back to cause some damage the next day. The wind had turned from a gentle tailwind, into a roaring headwind, whipping the course into titanic sinking sized waves. So... setting out in our sleek black hired comedy quad, we went off for a practise lap before heading to the start.

vienna3I heard a loud cracking noise, a big splash and a girly scream. Naturally I assumed FaceMan (Dave) had ejector seated out of the boat.

Nope, actually we'd crashed into a single scull. A nice, well looked after, wooden scull, which was now sinking... This wasn't the kind of impact we were hoping to make. The lady sculling it had already raced, and was naughtly warming down in the practise area (there was no warm down area). After attempting to pull her into the side and failing, her husband jumped in, and started dragging her to the bank.

Oh well, off to race, since our boat 'seemed' OK. Couple of capsised sculls around (not our fault this time!) but nothing we can't handle!

Did I mention the howling gale and large waves? In a boat that we'd already crashed, made by the same people who made the Titanic, we thought racing was still a good idea.

So, at the start, we're waiting to be fully lined up, and hear a beep. Beep? What about Attention? The lining-up guy is still talking? Oh bugger - go!

This was never going to be a race that we could win; it was all about damage limitation. A bit of fun :) So, we weren't too worried about the fact that we were left a little behind as we battled the waves. We duly crossed the line last, but only 20 seconds behind, so didn't feel bad about it. Time of 4:09.13

All in all, a lot of fun, but I wish we'd brought our own boats.


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