Mighty haul of pots at Peterborough

Pot-tastic Peterborough

City returned with a nice trawl of pots from our latest visit to Peterborough.

Mighty Ben lived up to his moniker by winning in his single on Saturday, and then just for good measure winning on Sunday too. Some people are just greedy! 

Also racing was the men's IM3 8 who suffered a broken rigger (Dave's loose nuts) which put them out of the IM3 heats. The men's IM2 8 had a straight final at 7pm on Saturday but came off second best to a Lea 8 (too much time for tea and cake before the race no doubt).



Paul reached the final in his novice single on Saturday but was missing from his race on rainy Sunday... did someone say fairweather...?!

Jack and Blaine raced to 2nd in the double on Sunday and did very well in their singles against strong opposition. Dave and Steve came a very close second in their double on the same day. Steve would like me to mention that they did beat the RAF in the process, impressive - I happen to know that the Redbourn Arts and crafts Federation have a strong squad this year ;).

And lastly City onlookers will have blinked and rubbed their eyes at the site of not one but two confirmed scullers in a 4+ as Steve and Ben took to the water with Dave Lodge, James C and Hannah coxing. It must have been a relief to come out of the closet after all these years boys, the lure of proper men's rowing was too strong after all!

Mighty's Sizzling Sunday

It was a windy, but not rainy day. Obviously the wind was a head wind, but at least that's the same problem for everyone!

First race of the day was one of our heats - not one I was in - it had Mr Eakins in it, who got a convincing second, but was beaten by a sculler from Robs who didn't look to be rating very high or working too hard by the end - quite worrying!

My first race, and there were only two people turned up! I had a feeling that I'd get through to the semi (two go through...) However, it was still worth racing for as you get a better lane in the next race if you win (and avoid the Robs sculler!)

I got a good, calm start and settled to my planned race rate of 30 spm. I pulled ahead and was about 2 lengths up by 250m! I think at that point we both decided to take it easy and not wear ourselves out too much - I wound down to about 24 spm won by about that distance. Good start!

Mr E and I were both in the same semi, and we were called over to control as one of the other rowers had a clash with another race and wanted to change the time. Unfortunately the other sculler from Nottingham Uni refused to let the time of the race be changed. This happens, but normally only for good reason (i.e. can't have it later as it would cause another clash, or if they need to leave), but he was just being a d1ck about it. The poor lad with the clash therefore couldn't race and looked very unhappy. Mr E and I promised him we'd beat the d1ck, and set off with renewed purpose.

I got a reasonable start, but both Mr E and the Nottingham guy both didn't get the cleanest start, meaning I was slightly ahead and could watch what happened next. By about 300m Mr E was a little ahead, and the Nottingham guy started really going for it. He then caught a crab and fell in! Normally I'd feel very sorry for him, but in this case I figure it was karma acting super fast :)

I won the race with Mr E about a second behind. I had a race in the four directly afterwards so went straight to the pontoon, jumped out (Tom kindly taking the scull for me) ran round the end of the lake, and jumped in the four, and we made fast progress to the start at the other end of the lake.

We got there with about 2 minutes to spare - I was feeling a bit out of breath still, but not too bad.  Yet.  We went off with a fantastic start! Hannah told us we were in first position. The wind had come up in the 10 minutes since the scull, and was now really blustery, and we were blown around a bit. By about 200m we were down to third! Then last :(

We kept at it, but ended in last (not by much - the whole race was close together), and I felt awful by the end! I guess that's what two races in a row will do for you :/ Still, the row actually felt very good, just not as fast as the other crews... and was quite encouraging for a vet crew!

Meanwhile the Robs guy had stormed to victory in the other semi, rating low and a long way ahead by the end. Gulp!

So, got to the final, Mr E on my right, and the Robs guy on the left (can't remeber where the 4th guy was from). The starter got us all lined up, and called: "City of Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Rob Roy, X ... Attention ... ... ... GO!"). I got a good start, but the Robs guy went off like a rocket! By about 100m we were both clear of Mr E and the other guy, but he must have been up on me by 2 lengths! I was going at 30spm, and could hear him, and realised I was getting slowly closer. By about 400m I'd caught up to about half a length, but he then held me off at that distance. I decided to go for it, and upped the rating, and drew level!

I glanced over at him, and don't know if it really happened, but I thought I saw his head go down! I couldn't help it, and let out a cheer! He started to drop back, and I think slowed down a bit - I was able to drop back to 30 as I couldn't keep the higher rating up, and knew I'd won it by about 200m to go :)

I finished with a time of 4:06 (which was good in that headwind!) 13 seconds clear! Yay

Mighty's Sozzling Sunday

So Sunday came around, and it was wet, windy and cold.  Could I bring myself to go?  Maybe it would turn sunny in a couple of hours... yes!  I'll get there in time to see Mr E race.  I'd have to talk to the people at race control as I'd phoned the URGENT number on the poster for URGENLTLY letting them know if you changed categories; it turned out to be the phone in the bar, and the bloke who answered it was quite bemused...

Arriving just in time for Mr E's race, there was a conspicous absense in his lane.  Fair-weather rower!  Having moved from Novice (in which there were 20, well, 19 competitors) to IM3 where there were 12, my races were now at much more civilised times (11am and 3:30pm as opposed to 8:44am -> 6:08pm).  Yay!

First race of the day had the winner from the previous day's IM3 winner (Rippon) racing in it, so it was a baptism of fire!  It was cold, wet, miserable, and I couldn't feel my fingers. But the wind did a 180 degree turn and was a tail wind.  Result! 

I was in lane 1, and realised after about 5 strokes that I was in last place. I then duly hit the random bouy that was in the middle of the lane!

My plan had been to rate at about 32 after the start, but by about 100m I was still going at 36, desperately trying to catch up.  By about midway I'd drawn level the guy next to me, but couldn't really work out what was going on further afield.  With about 150m to go, I brought the rate up (!) and pushed past him (and the guy in lane 3), and realised I was level with Rippon, so I upped the rate again desperately trying to avoid the repechange...  We went over the line together, and waited for the anouncer, who I swear said the result in his quitest voice.  I'd beaten him - we both had 1:47!  Rahhhhhhhhh! 

Ok, so it turns out he's a J16, but to be fair, he is 30kg heavier than me... So, at this point I snuck off to Queensgate shopping center to try to dry off, and fitted right in with the chavs in my sport gear and trainers... Got back to find that Rippon had won the repechange, and we'd have to race again, buy maybe I'd be in a better lane in the final.  Nope, lane 1 again :(  However, someone had removed the bouy!  :)

However, it was only 3 of us in the final - Rippon had ducked out (obviously had enough of a beating in the first round.  Or wanted to stay IM3...)  One of the other scullers (from Nottingham) there had got the same time in his heat, so it was going to be close.  It was a headwind by now, and dry.  Yay!

This time I got a good start and was level with the guy from Nottingham, and we left the other guy behind.  I slowly edged in front, but wasn't sure till about 100m, when it became clear I was ahead.  Again I was rating about 36ish, but didn't take it up this time, and won by about 2 seconds.  Pot-tastic!

Fish Killers

Sitting on the lake for the best part of an hour wasn't the best preparation for a 1000m sprint, and most of the crew weren't quite as warmed up as we would have liked. As always we had to 'deal with the conditions better than the others' and that's what we aimed to do. Sadly, there were just too many marshals in our immediate vicinity to get away with either a) ramming, b) sinking or c) splashing our opposition. Emma "loudest cox in the South East" Teale did, however, ensure that nobody messed with us, and even got a scantily-clad uni crew flirting with us, which kept us just about warm enough to race. Sophie also survived the horrors of a disgusting two-foot-long dead fish that floated slowly underneath her, sharing her pain by pointing it out to everyone around her. Nausea shared obviously equalling nausea halved or something.

Once we actually got on with the serious business of racing, a slight lack of holding the finishes off the start meant we didn't get out in front as we darn well should have done, and we spent the first 500m battling to get our nose (or at least, Emma's backside) in front of Champs, who appeared to be our main competition in this heat. The training paid off and fitness came through at the 500m mark when we realised we did know how to row properly. We lifted out of the 500m, fully aware that we needed 1st place to get straight into the final. The rhythm came together and the boat started to move fluidly. We got ahead and the crew relaxed enough to start enjoying it whilst coughing up various lungs. A couple more lifts on the way home and we confirmed our place: 3 seconds ahead of Champs. We then spent the next half hour sounding like a crew of 50-a-day smokers, proving our thorough commitment, but also how difficult it can be to row cold. Plan for the final - don't make it harder than it already is!


The races now all running to time, we did more hanging around with the boat on trestles and less sitting on the water - both better for our muscles and safer as regards floating monsters of the deep. Being the fastest qualifiers for the final we all felt a bit of pressure to perform - we knew we could win if we 'did it right' but, as with so many performance-related issues, it all counted on not getting over-excited in the first few minutes. In a Cambridge-dominated final we had Cantabs in the lane next to us, with Walbrook and Magdalene in lanes 1 and 2.

From a good start we found our rhythm more quickly than in the heat. We were more prepared for some of the other crews to stay with us this time and Cantabs and Walbrook did exactly that. Our push at 1 min 30 seconds saw us begin to break the field and we confirmed this with our 500m push, this time cementing what was there instead of bringing in a new rhythm. Walbrook and Cantabs began to drop away, and then Magdalene showed their hand, pushing us hard through the 2nd half of the race.

As conditions got more choppy (we love head winds!) the crew had to concentrate hard on keeping it together and remembering our technique. Quite a bit of splash through the waves but lots of power and guts (and of course rowdy, hearing-ruining shouting from supporters on the bank) took us across the line a length up on the nearest competition - our point proved, a happy coach and 3 members of the crew winning their novice pot. :o)

Make 'em Cry

Jo’s novice men set off for Peterborough on Saturday morning with reason to be optimistic. We had had a couple of very good training outings and finally the crew had clicked and King cut sleekly through the water.

The day started as much as the same as other Regattas. Boat rigged, crew assembled and ready and the Ginger boat bingo game was underway. Before the race started we had a cox and a stroke man, James was very pleased.

First race came, our start didn’t go too well as nerves let us down. We managed to keep it together, but we were pipped by 4 seconds by Bedford School. A look at the times showed us the 2nd fastest 8+ out of the first races, with the 99s 2 seconds behind. This strange new fast 99s crew seem to come from nowhere. Every race over the last few months we’ve spanked them easily all the way up and down the river, now with the addition of an outboard motor, they were a cause for mild concern.

On to the repechage next, from the previous times we could see it should be in the bag, and with the addition of a bow man in Ginger boat bingo, we felt confident. The start was strong and we didn’t look back. 14s clear by time we crossed the line, and a magnificent call of “make them cry” from Fiona pushed us along.

Onto the final. We had to get Bedford, and hold off 99s. So it was all to play for. Unfortunately the racing was taking its toll on our poor boat. At the end of each race so far, the rudder was bent, each time we gently bent it back. We were now becoming nervous. Jo was on her way to watch us in the final, and the Ginger boat bingo had stopped. You could tell we were tense. A quick chat from Jo after she arrived “you’d better go like s*** off the start”

Off we went, a good start, and it became a 3 boat race. We slowly edged ahead of 99s (their propeller got tangled in some reeds) and started to gain on Bedford. We pushed them hard, and gave it all, but we were beaten by less than 1 second. Lungs burning, legs on fire and a destroyed soul. But as we sat there wondering who to beat up our IM3 ladies came flying up the course in 1st place. Well done ladies, pleased and very jealous…

So on to Sunday, to re-commence battle. This time over 500m. Started the day off well, buckets of rain cleared for our first race and John’s car keys had now disappeared and were never seen again. Jules had joined us after his absence from Saturday’s race and was secretly well chuffed we’d not won. Bastard.

Just a heat and a final. In the heat we were up against 99s and Kings College. Both beaten yesterday. Half way through the heat Nines were still next to us, they must have fixed their motor? Then Fiona let loose her exocet missile “make them cry send them home” and picked up an extra 10 knots of speed and we crossed the line 2 seconds ahead. A quick look at the time charts showed that the final was going to be a 2 boat race. City vs 99’s. We knew we could beat them, and we realised that we’re out doing them on the distance, Jo’s fitness training “regime” was keeping us ahead.

Off to the final. John wondering where his car keys had gone, Jules making sure his Mankini was straight, James singing Kung-Fu Fighting, Neil wondering where he was, Sava polishing his wellies, Jakob admiring his dry England socks, Tim praying, Sean dying with Swine Flu, Fiona making sure her sun glasses looked good, Jo threatening us with a base ball bat, and John still wondering where his car keys were.

As we boated Mighty Ben was on the opposite bank, he raised his arms above his head in a victory salute. Inspiration if it was ever needed.

A red hot practice start followed, it took us well beyond the 250m board, almost to 300m. Then onto the stake boats.

ATTENTION.....GO!! We were off to a great clean start. Then a power 10. Nines were still there, somewhere, maybe slightly ahead, maybe slightly behind. Then the “make them cry” call came, but so did pain in the legs. But it is only 500m and we have already covered half of it with the start and had a power 10. This race was ours to take. The pain was instantly banished by massive pushes with the legs and within moments the beep came from the finishing judge, very very quickly followed by a second beep. But no call to easy. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Nines rowing on furiously. Neither cox had heard the beeps. The race was still on. Then “hold it up” and we stopped 15 metres shy of the hard. The boat had crossed the line. Who won? No one knew. A debate raged until we finally saw Jo leaping about on the bank arms aloft and base ball bat cast aside. We had won our novice point!

There then followed the most spacky piece of boat parking ever witnessed. Finally, we managed to find the pontoon. High 5’s all around. The boat was quickly raised from the water, straight to heads, seemingly weighing less than a single scull. What to do next. Easy, leave the boat by the trailer and get those pots, fill them with beer and enjoy the sweet taste of hard earned success. Apparently, after several beers and a hot curry, the winning margin was about 5 lengths…

Best quote of the day award goes to John:
“when I realised 99s were close I just remember one thing that Jo Said” 
“what was that then?” asked Jo
“Er… well it was… er… I can’t remember! Can I have a lift home?”

But a win, and a fitting Birthday present for John and so much pleasure gained from emailing Zara and asking her to change our status in the X-press head to IM3.

And Tim. Finally, well done fella.

Monday morning, business as usual. Before the hangover had cleared, Jo had located her base ball bat, new Erg plan issued, weight training sorted, and new 2k test date set. New target, some IM3 points.

Thank you Jo and Fi. Thank you city

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