Overthelocktober

One a fine sunny Sunday in autumn a variety of Chesterton crews headed downriver, halting not at Bates Bite but yet continuing to The Bridge at Clayhithe, where we had a pint or two.

Simon E was the Evil Genius behind the plan.

A couple of notes may be worth noting, for those thinking of similar. Firstly, the edge at the Bridge has been raised along most of the length, so apart from the bit at the end, under the willow, getting in is really quite awkward, as some of the pix show. And the “low” section is only really long enough for a IV - as you’ll notice the VIII parked opposite, and that somewhat uneasily. Second, the pub itself didn’t seem desperately rower-friendly. They sold us drinks, but - perhaps this was only over the phone beforehand - didn’t seem keen. Well, no matter, it was sunny and we sat outside.

Nines regatta report

We had quite a few crews for the Nines Autumn Regatta. The draw is here. M1 were blessed with a straight final against Downing, which we duly lost. Young master Burgess started off well in the sculls but discovered that rowing upside down is slow. Old Mr Pilgrim won his first round “easily” but was then defeated by some youth from Magdalene. That suffices for the men, but wait there is rather more to be said on the women’s side.

[Watermarked pictures copyright Al Craigie (fb)]

Of the Ladies

By Sarah call-me-Burgess.

Chesterton Ladies had a very successful day yesterday will all 3 of our boats getting to their finals. We started off proceedings at 8:34 with our open coxed IV and finished at 17:45 with our Masters coxed IV. 

Our Ladies Masters Quad (Sarah C-H, Amanda, Meg and Katherine) had a bye to the final and were up against a very experienced Masters crew (composite of Peterborough and Leicester). Being a Master category above our ladies they also got a head start on the race, always making it difficult on such a short race to get them back. A very good row by our ladies!

Our Open Ladies Coxed IV (Meg, Eleanor, Catherine, Sarah B, Rachel) were less fortunate and in a category of 5 crews and got the short straw with Gravesend as the first race on the river at 8:34. It was a beautiful morning and when finally on the river it was lovely! Winning the first race by just over a length. The second race was up against one of the two Peterborough crews in the early afternoon with a win of two and a half lengths. The other Peterborough crew was also knocked out by our next competition Darwin College. Probably our youngest competition of the day and we had seen them out training the week before. The final was our best race of the day but also our third and the Darwin crew were just a little longer and faster beating us by 1 3/4 lengths.

Our Masters Coxed IV (Anne, Angela, Pamela, Renata, Kate) a different line up to the last year but still a very successful crew. Winning their Semi-Final against St Ives by 4 lengths (not sure when easily is put!) and coming back for the Final (one of the last races of the day) to take on Devils Elbow and taking home the pots by winning by 1 and a third lengths. Well Done Ladies, Renata's first pot with Chesterton and Anne's first coxing pot. 

Masters Coxed IV

Race report from Anne.

Sunday 9 September dawned fine and sunny for 99s regatta. We had entered a Master’s C IV+ with Angela, Pamela, Renata, Kate and me coxing only my second regatta. 99s in their infinite wisdom, compelled all coxes to complete a totally time-wasting exercise of being weighed on Ditton Field, which is totally inconvenient if you are boating from town Surprise, surprise, I weighed more than 55Kg.

Back now to the business of the race. We had only had one outing in this combination which had been scrappy to be polite. The 3 stalwarts of W2 insisted we had the same start as W2 in bumps which did at least avoid any discussion on that point. Bow pair needed to row together more evenly to stop any lurch to stroke side off the start – very scary for a cox.

Out first opponents were St Ives. They didn’t look too intimidating in their row to the start. We actually got a 3 second advantage off the start as we were Masters C and they were youngsters at Masters B. I was relieved to get on the stake boat at my first attempt Remembered to keep my hand up until we were ready. Then we were off on the first go. 3,2,1, go. Then St Ives. And we kept nicely in front the whole way down the Reach. No sneaking up on us just when everyone gets a bit tired. Through to the final. Hooray.

5 hours later, we faced Devil’s Elbow, who were also Master’s C, and who we thought looked significantly younger than us. Must have been using their moisturiser. The start was much windier and our bows started floating off at 45 degrees from the stake boat. But eventually after the umpire had straightened us both up, and clearly enjoyed using his megaphone, we were both off. And steadily and consistently we slowly drew away. So long as no one caught a crab, I knew it was ours. And it was!

It’s great to pass the finish line first. Pots and showing our BR cards – the ones we bring but don’t like to mention, in case we don’t need them.

Sudbury

Sudbury (arch). Words by Rachel.

A Chesterton contingent went to the 138th Sudbury International Regatta yesterday! I think it is fair to say we were mostly very scratchy crews. Thursday night saw the loading of Spare Rib and WGP onto the 99's trailer and Nostromo onto the Cantabs Trailer on Friday (kindly arranged by Conor).

Saturday morning came with a bright and early start to arrive in Sudbury for 8:00am to grab a prime gazebo pitch and to get Nostromo ready for it's foray in division 1 at 9:00am against Lea RC.

For those of you not familiar with Sudbury it is a narrow river and essentially side by side, like racing round grassy corner but with more weeds. There is nowhere to warm up other than your row to the start. The eights row 350 m (missing the very tight bend) and the fours row 650 m. There are many, many crashes though out the day - indeed 99's owe us a bow ball after they ploughed into the bank!

The M4+ had a good and the only uneventful race of the day but unfortunately lost to Lea RC.

Now the fun begins.

The W8+ also against Lea RC raced at 10am in Div 3 - there was I think it is fair to say some regrettable umpiring/marshalling decisions made at the start and the staggered start did not really happen. Sadly this meant that Chesterton was pipped to the post by 2ft 😞. A very solid row and some beautiful rowing to showboat for their fans on the row up. I think we can honestly say they wuz robbed.

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Division 8 saw the Chesterton mixed "Power 8" row. This crew had never been in a boat together but on paper looked pretty good. The row up felt good.....we were confident… Broxbourne went off first 1 sec ahead of us but I think that's where it went wrong - we mistimed our start and strokeside in their excitement overpowered bowside straight towards the reeds! And the whole of bowside had to rapidly learn how to cross country row through the reeds (and the bank) but we emerged unscathed and powered down the rest of the course - if we'd had an extra 100 m I reckon we would have caught them!

Jonathan then popped off to row with a Huntingdon / St Ives composite crew where they had a cracking row and made it to the final.

Division 15 - W4+ masters B/C (straight final) - yet again we were up against Lea RC! After a lot of chaos at the start we were off with a 4 sec head start on Lea (being the older of the crews) on the apex of the bend Lea RC went wide crossing into our lane and colliding with our blades. The Umpire halted our race and called it "equal blame" even though the cox of Lea admitted it was her fault - we were offered a re-row. So off we went to the end of the course to wait for the next division. We waited our turn and began to row to the start - rapidly halted by Lea RC who now had no rudder! The umpire said they could not race (in fairness they didn't want to) so we rowed off to the start to race back alone! We had a lovely race back against the clock! And were happy with our time (and the shiny pots although it does feel a little bit of an empty win).

Boats were rapidly put back on trailers and base camp packed up as it was now heading towards 6pm.

One last race with a chance for Chesterton - Jonathan in the composite crew - I think it's fair to say the four remaining Chesterton fans cheered with all their might but it wasn't quite enough.

Back to Cambridge for detrailering and re-rigging - the last boat got put away at 22:20 after some night rowing (four people in the eight and two people in the four) back from 99's to the CRA - (yes we had lights).

The weary contingent went home!

CRA town bumps 2018

It's that time again; here's the start order. We have three men's and three women's crews this year, ranging from the usual been-rowing-all-year to the just-got-together-before-bumps. This year Chesterton is the "featured club" in the bumps programme.

 

But blogs are so out of fashion; a succession of posts to fb is how most things got noticed; so well behind time I'll try to update this with results. And rather than day-by-day, how about crew-by-crew?

Overall results (partial archive): M1: 0; M2: +4 (blades); M3: +3. W1: +2 (to 8, highest ever); W2: 0; W3: +2.

* Day 1: M1: down to Tabs 3. M2: up on Champs 2; M3: up on Nines 7. W1: up on Robs! W2: Up on Nines 4; W3: row-over.

* Day 2: M1: row-over; M2: up on City 7; M3: row-over. W1: row-over; W2: row-over; W3: up on Champs 6.

* Day 3: M1: up on City 2; M2: up on Press 3; M3: up on Champs 5. W1: row-over; W2: down to City 5; W3: row-over.

* Day 4: M1: row-over; M2: up on St Neots 2; M3: up on City 11. W1: up on City 2 (at last!); W2: row-over; W3: up on City 8.

Note: currently this is an archive-in-progress awaiting filling in. Notice subtle links to my and PH's posts.

Photo credits: various. Recommended sets:

* Chris Worrall

* Dave Meredith (day 3)

 

M1

* Vidz:  riggercam, day 3. JoCriggercam, day 4. JoC.

Hors Serie

* Tabs 2 (Hills Road returners) day 2 versus Nines 2.

M2

* Vidz: JoC, day 4.

W1

* Vidz: JoC, day 4.

W2

* Vidz: JoC: day 4.

W3

* Vidz: JoC; day 3. Anne, Day 4.

Words and Music: W2

[The management accept no responsibility for the text of this section]

Dawn reports: a last minute addition to our land warm-up by our illustrious Captain - designed to enhance crew bonding and, allegedly, performance - had us doing pre-race power poses every night to the 1970s Wonder Woman theme. Our experience of bumps is best conveyed by swapping in the lyrics below to this catchy little tune:

Wonder Women, Wonder Women

All the Cam’s waiting for you,

and the power you possess.

In your lycra tights,

Fighting off bumps frights

And for the Yellow, Blue and Blue.

Wonder Women, Wonder Women.

Now the cannon’s ready for you,

and the draw strokes you can do.

Make a bump first day

Row fast all the way

Nearly get the over bump

Wonder Women,

Get us out from under, Wonder Women.

You are Chesterton Women two

And it’s magic that you do.

Stop a coxed eight cold,

Make the others fold,

Change their minds,

and change the world.

Wonder Women, Wonder Women.

You’re a wonder, Wonder Women.

Chesterton W2 “Wonder Women” bumps crew 2018: Manja, Ella, Kate, Dawn, Pamela, Eszter, Masha, Angela (Captain), Caroline and supersubs Katie and Cecile, and Coach Seline.

Aftermath

Rachel's speech; Simon's speech.

References

* 2017 day 1; day 2; day 3; day 4

* 2016 day 1 ("The day was hot but so were we. Woof! Is that an oar in my one-piece or am I pleased to see you?").

Head of the Cam, 2018

The Head of the Cam, 2018 has just finished. All breathe a sigh of relief that it passed off smoothly, and head home to relax in front of the fire, lounge in the bath, and / or drink large gins.

Here we see our happy winners: Nines M1 (9:02, fastest men) and Cantabs W1 (9:57) joinly holding the Head of the Cam shield that we / the CRA really must get updated some year.

There's an archive of the 2018 HoC web page in the just-post-race state here.

Notes

Everything was pretty smooth this year, with no great alarums or excursions, with the exception of an ejector crab on Jesus W1, which they'll doubtless be happy to have got out of their system before bumps. We weren't a BR race, but nonetheless had visitors from Isle of Ely and Loughborough. The weather was frankly not up to scratch, being cold, grey, and at least for division 1 somewhat rainy; I'll be having a word with the appropriate authorities about that.

If anyone has any feedback for improving things, we'd be glad to hear it: headofthecam@gmail.com will reach us.

Timing

This year's innovation was the use of Rowclock as a shadow timing system. Our results on Rowclock are here. However, the definitive results are stop-watch-and-paper recording, and are here. In many ways Rowclock is more convenient: there is no tedious transcribing of scribbled-on-paper results, and less possibility of error. In several cases comparing Rowclock and stopwatch timings made it easy to see data entry errors (that would have been caught, more painfully, later). In two cases a more stubborn disparity was eventually resolved in favour of Rowclock after very careful examination of our paper. And in one case, in div 4 when I was in a hurry, a 20 second disparity was resolved simply by trusting Rowclock.

Rowclock could have made my job of doing the Masters categories easier, except it's system for handling masters entries is a little clunky: it requires you to decide the class amalgamation in advance; changing it in arrears is painful. And It makes amalgamating, say, Mays 2 and Mays 3 difficult. Or so I found; I may have missed Better Ways. So in the end I did amalgamation and masters by hand in Google Dox, which is slightly fraught and require experience or time to get right.

One point to note is that the Rowclock and stopwatch timings differed, by a small but clearly non-random amount, that needs investigating. If I find out what caused that, I'll update this post.

HoRR 2018

MeHoRR... like WeHoRR, only more manly. We men had, after an heroic training programme (strictly limiting ourselves to at most two outings a week) and a mad scramble for a sub (thanks to Scott-from-Essex) arrived on the sunny banks of the Thames to find the boat left for us by the ladies from yesterday. Everyone turned up, even a surprisingly unbloodied Steve P, and all was ready in time. Top tip: the queue for the loo is much shorter at AK than Furnival.

TL; DR: 20:29, start 219 finish 183; three overtakes; a good row.

Boating was uncontroversial, as was getting across the river and warming up and getting to our marshalling point. Except... where exactly was our marshalling point? We got somewhere, but it seemed empty, so we went further... and further... until a marshall told us we'd come too far. We needed to spin, go back, and re-park lower down. Which was fine, as we wanted to do some rowing with the stream anyway. A little later we did an impromptu 360 due to some rather unkind positioning by another crew, but then we all started moving up as the racing crews came down, and before you knew it we were above Chiswick waiting for our turn to spin... a few strokes down to the bridge to settle ourselves... and we're off.

After that, we did 20:29 minutes of largely undifferentiated rowing, which is how it should be in a head race. Apparently 5 and 6 couldn't hear Keith because the middle speaker was broken, but that's fine, you don't need to hear the cox anyway :-). My GPS trace, and Steve P's, says we got a pretty good line except perhaps around the big bend - I bet it has a proper name, I'll call it the bend opposite Furnival - where we cut the corner a bit. We overtook three crews, which also called for a bit more push to squeeze past them, and had 221 coming for us on the finish line. After which comes the traditional "it's a bit further back to Furnival from here than I thought". Then de-rigging and splitting and a pint, and we're off back to the calmer waters of the Cam.

Which reminds me: Wx today: pretty good really. Well, it wasn't cancelled, for one thing. No rain, some sun, little wind, perhaps a bit of a headwind but nothing to complain about.

 

Vidz

* The Keithcam
* My riggercam 
* A truely fascinating video of us taking the boat out at Furnival and de-rigging it, in case you wonder what Funival looks like.

Comparisons

Conor pulled out all the Cambridge crews. We didn't beat Pembroke or Tabs 1 or Nines first crew... well, you get the idea. But we were only a second behind Nines 2, and Robs; and we beat Jesus and Queens and Kings and Peterhouse.

Pembroke - 19:13.4 - 50
Trinity Hall - 19:28.8 - 72
Nines C - 19:32.0 - 77
Robinson - 19:39.6 - 94
Downing - 19:45.9 - 107
Cantabs A - 19:55.9 - 125
Clare - 20:01.8 - 138
Magdalene - 20:03.0 - 140
Fitzwilliam - 20:10.0 - 155
City A - 20:11.8 - 158
Caius - 20:16.9 - 163
FaT A - 20:17.5 - 164
Corpus - 20:23.3 - 174
Emmanuel - 20:23.8 - 175
Nines B - 20:28.8 - 180
Rob Roy - 20:29.5 - 182
Chesterton - 20:29.6 - 183
St Catz - 20:29.8 - 184
Hughes Hall - 20:36.1 - 194
Jesus - 20:41.4 - 200
King’s - 20:42.4 - 202
FaT B - 20:46.1 - 206
Queens’ - 20:49.2 - 213
Peterhouse - 20:58.6 - 223
Sidney - 21:02.7 - 227
Nines A - 21:12.8 - 233
Cantabs B - 21:14.1 - 235
Champs - 21:15.9 - 237
Trinity Hall B - 21:20.3 - 240
City B - 21:36.3 - 254
Emma B - 21:49.0 - 260

Thoughts

Out technique is of course by no means perfect, but actually it is pretty good. As Steve P and I agreed amongst ourselves afterwards. We are now - in fact we have been for some time - at the stage where we're fairly well jelled together, and know each others styles, and can work within that. What we aren't - and I'm leading the charge here - is strong enough.

WeHoRR 2018

This year, WeHoRR was on the Saturday, HoRR was on the Sunday, and Vets head is later. Results:

* Chesterton A: 23:05.6 (198)

* Chesterton B: 24:39.2 (276)

Senior crew

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Senior 8: Rachel Newby, Natalie Andrews, Keith Lee, Sarah Hadman-Back, Eleanor Gordon, Megan Richards, Angela Barkes, Hannah Parish and Pamela Baxter.

Alarm going off at 4:45 am, jumping out of bed to get to the train with everyone by 5:45 am - so early! Even with 45 minute delay to the start we wanted to be relaxed ready for boating! 

Boats ready, blades taken down to the boating area, nuts tightened, safety check complete - we were ready!! 

Time to go, navigating Furnival gardens; boats, bags, lamp posts, benches, challenge safely navigated. Furnival ramp; safely navigated with the support of our host BC, phew!!! Quickly getting in the boat blades out, Keith in, we were off! First tideway challenge: get away from the town boats, miss the green buoy and get to the other side with the stream going the other way - Done, success, breathe! 

Race warm up, front stops build, practising our race calls all went to plan  - we were ready!

First marshalling stage, luckily we had loads of space to navigate up and down with lots of tapping from the whole crew. Next marshalling stage a little closer, overlapping with jostling but safely done! Turning into the racing line and stream expertly done by Keith and we were set.

Strong start off we went setting our rhythm which felt long, strong and sustained. Apart from some sharp calls from stroke to cox to “get in the stream, don’t cut corners” (sorry Keith)! The rhythm and calls were great and felt strong until Hammersmith. We’d made some space from the boat behind and it seemed like nothing going on ahead. Until suddenly Keith was shouting move to your...something (I can’t remember), then the umpire got involved. Luckily they moved and gave us space to overtake. Then we hit the wind after Hammersmith into the finish. The hardest 1k, but after some good calls from Keith and stroke shouting ‘Loonng’ we got it together and drove through the wind to the finish.

Having some of our best rowing back and cheering on the Novice ladies as they came around Hammersmith. 

KeithCam: part1, part2.

Novice crew

 Evelyn Donnaes, Dawn Hawkins, Masha Netchaeva, Rosa Mottershead, Dave Richards, Kate Winter, Caroline Coetzee, Hannah Telka, Katie Bolt.

Evelyn Donnaes, Dawn Hawkins, Masha Netchaeva, Rosa Mottershead, Dave Richards, Kate Winter, Caroline Coetzee, Hannah Telka, Katie Bolt.

While waiting at the train station on the morning of the race, it transpired that most of us hadn't managed to get much sleep the night before, which was somewhat reassuring to know so as not to feel the odd one out. 

The train and tube journey to the Furnival went smoothly without a hitch (bar a moment of tension going past the Piccadilly Circus without stopping and hearing "Please leave the station immediately" announcements). The weather looked promising, the river wide and calm, Furnival Gardens busy with fellow rowers assembling the boats. I must say I've found all this rigging and de-rigging equally fun (I guess until the novelty wears off), and it was a revelation to learn that the actual boat comes apart in halves.

An hour and a half waiting before putting the boat on the water was spent calculating how many times one could go to the loo taking into account the length and speed of the queues, how many layers to keep/take off, how much water to drink, and fretting about taking the boat down a steep and scary ramp whilst being circumnavigated by runners, cyclists, families with prams and other members of the general public on a busy Saturday morning Thames embankment.

And finally off we went. Usually the worst part of any race is sitting around and waiting for ages whilst getting cold and anxious. Here, it felt nothing like - time for a short practice, some steady state rowing, de-kitting/re-kitting, watching the crews racing past - all while generally feeling safe and secure under Dave's composed and confident guidance rowing past shouty marshalls and stray boats in the middle of the river.

The scene looks strangely familiar and different at the same time, like in a dream - a tow path along the right-hand side with runners and dog walkers (but no fishermen), a river (but a bit wider, and pebbly beaches instead of grassy corners), houses on the left-hand side (but a bit grander), bridges (but wider and higher)... Maybe I was dosing off after all after a sleepless night.

Finally, a nice and wide spin (instead of a three-point turn) and we're racing!

Thinking about it now, the race went for me in a flash. I remember saying to myself, "It'll be over in 20 minutes or so", and concentrating for the rest of the time with not much room for reflection.

Oh yes, there were a couple of events along the way to keep us entertained: we worked hard to hold off an overtaking boat for some time, we tried to sort out the balance by applying various strategies, we welcomed the cheers from the Hammersmith Bridge, then I didn't respond as I should have to the "mind the blades on bow side" call and hit a buoy at full speed, which was swiftly followed by a slight collision with the blades of the boat we were trying to overtake. The incident cost us some time and probably a few places, but we recovered and managed to go ahead of that boat, and then we were very pleased to hear "the last 500 meters" soon afterwards. Another boat was gaining on us towards the end, which gave us an extra incentive to push harder and I think we did manage not to let them overtake us (just about!) at the finish.

The row back was long but I was still too excited to feel the tiredness. The life on the banks was busy and I enjoyed taking it all in when it was our pair's turn to have a rest. 

We landed on the beach (which again appeared easier than expected) and then went through the same boat-carrying process in reverse to complete our mission.

I think we all had a feeling of achievement in the end - all the months of training, hours of preparations, waiting and anxiety were well worth it!

PS And the hardest part of the day was cycling back home from the train station. 

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BRICing it 2017!

[By roving reporter Dawn Hawkins] Cycling home from the pub at the end of the day, through the calm, crisp midnight air, I was thinking “yeah - that was a cool idea – I’m glad I did that”. Twenty hours earlier, however, it was a different story: I’d woken at 4am realising “OMG, today is the day I’m signed up to go to London to do a 2k in the middle of the Olympic Velodrome watched by a load of people”. Doubts about my own sanity were still coursing through my head a couple of hours later when I joined a small band of rogue Chesterton rowers, taking the 6:15 to Kings Cross heading for the British Rowing Indoor Championships.

The sun was only just rising over the East End as we sped from St Pancras to Stratford International and the Velodrome. Even so our support crew, the wonderful Angela armed with flag and flapjack, had managed to arrive in advance of us and stake out a Chesterton base in a perfect spot for watching both the red and the blue racing areas and for nipping to the bathroom to vent pre-race nerves.

First up was Jonathan. He had been put with the lightweights so he went off to convince people that this was erroneous, which took just one look. We watched him ready himself for action in the warm up area, disappear underground and re-emerge on to the race floor to the “please welcome the athletes…” announcement to stirring music. As Jonathan erged to a 7:04 at a magnificently powerful 23 strokes per minute on the race floor, a little yellow boat, with his number on it, jostled for position with about 50 others on a massive screen behind him. A commentator ramped up the atmosphere. Then, suddenly, the image switched to live camera shots of individual ergers – the agony, the determination, the exhaustion.  For a moment I forgot that was going to be me in a very short while but then it came back to me. Ugh.

Although we were in different categories, Anne, Eleanor & I marshalled together which was great, not least because I got to witness the moment one of Anne’s competitors told her that she was going for a world record attempt. Waiting for our 2k races to be called, my mouth was getting pretty parched with nervous tension, not helped by the hot dry atmosphere in the heart of the Velodrome. Then things went more drastically off plan when our warm up was cut to 6 minutes, to make up time lost to some technical issue, and the ideal 10 minute warm-up Anne & I had perfected over the last 12 weeks of training went out the window. As we entered the race floor, the sight of the race marshals holding stacks of those grey cardboard sick bowls, usually reserved for medical institutions, did nothing to improve our nerves. Anne confessed to me later that she’d never suffered from such overwhelming butterflies and feeling of feebleness: About sums it up.

Finally, I was seated on Erg number 12 in blue race area with the familiar Concept 2 little screen of hell in front of me. It had all the usual stats plus my name – my name on a Concept 2 monitor - oh dear!  I thought about making a run for it but pulled myself together and managed a respectable 8:20 to come 6th in the masters 50-54 women while Anne clocked up a tidy 8:26 to come 4th in the masters 60-64 women. Slightly disappointing in terms of times but both happy to have made it through and got good placings. Attention was then on Eleanor, no PB for her either but nevertheless, she stormed to 3rd place in the womens 40-49 year old lightweights with an impressive 7:46.  Anne & I sneaked into the medal presentation area and saw her getting a bronze medal up close.

Next a short break from the Velodrome for a walk through the Olympic Park and lunch on Victory Parade. Then we watched the Open 2k finals with the men’s race including several GB rowers plus, accompanied by much media attention, Sir Bradley, looking like a 1970s petulant John McEnroe with his white head band and bushy hair: He even seemed to do a McEnroe a bit of a stomp off at the end when it didn't go to plan. Most inspiring of all, the para and adaptive athletes and a couple of world records smashed.

By the time 500m events started my state of nervous tension and receded to more manageable levels. Jonathan was first on again and doubled his rating [46? Are you sure? - Ed.] to put down a handsome 1:32. Then it was the Chesterton women’s trio turn. Everything was more familiar and, what with a full length warm up, I think we all felt much more together and got our a hat trick of PBs. I went sub 1:50 for the first time and Eleanor’s cracking 1:47 only missed the podium by a second. However, it was Anne who put the icing on the cake with a 1:56 that landed her convincingly in second place and lead us to another award ceremony to get her silver medal.

We had to make a hasty retreat after that, so sadly missed the relay which featured five teams of women GB rowers, but we all had things to look forward to back in Cambridge. Our journey from Stratford International to Cambridge Central only took in 1 hour and 1 minute, which must be some kind of record. Anne went off to Senate house for a dose of long-ago-booked Handel’s messiah but Jonathan, Eleanor & Angela proceeded homeward to ready themselves for the Club’s Christmas party at the Pub where I re-joined them after an uplifting detour to see my son is his school production of Sister Act.  All in all a highly memorable and, mostly, enjoyable day.

With thanks to: My fellow BRICers, super supporter Angela, Captain Rachel’s BRIC countdown (and the title for this blog), the various messages of good luck and congrats and to those who posted photos of Team Chesterton dressed as baubles and the like on Facebook which were an excellent antidote to the more tense aspects of our experience!

Trois couleurs: Jaune

Pairs Head: Little Boat, Big River

It was time. And what better preparation than moving down to Cornwall four weeks previously. However, no amount of practice on the Cam could have prepared for the feel of our (Andy's) little yellow boat on the dynamism of the Thames. Not even the outflow! Still, looking over the river wall in front of Sons of the Thames, the water piling up and breaking on the upstream edge of the pontoon, laid an extra layer of trepidation to the thought of setting off and what lay ahead. No cox, no stern four, no bow four. No bow pair, no stern pair, just bow (desperately trying to steer a ‘good line’) and stroke (providing the power, at well above a safe heart rate).

But this was also a sad occasion. Probably my last row for the foreseeable future and I wanted it to be something to remember. Pushing off, the boat peeled away with the stream and we started the paddle up to the start. What a big river, and what had the navigation rules said? Cross at which buoy? Oh well.

 Do any of those look... yellow?

Do any of those look... yellow?

What a sight as we moved past Chiswick Bridge and began marshalling. Swarms of us, normally such a rare breed. The Pair. Quite proud not to have received one, even polite, instruction from the marshals, we were in place and ready to turn in to the flow. One of the beauties of small boats is the camaraderie. We are all in the same boat, and yet not. A few good luck wishes and we pulled in to the stream and were lined up and ready to go. Winding it up under the bridge and, ‘number 69, Chesterton Rowing Club, GO!’ Good rhythm. 10 strokes, look. Where are we going? Where should we be going? What was that advice. Lots of subtlety about imagining a certain number of boats between you and which bank but basically, stay in the middle. So in the middle we stayed.

Next bridge in sight. Line up. Look. Lined up. One last look. Back off Conor!! Not so close, but close enough from a very unforgiving bridge pier. Now through to what seemed more like a sea than a river. Where was that middle again? City, behind, where drifting back but Star had passed them and were bearing down on us. We should move over, but to where? They seemed more than capable of figuring out an overtaking move on their own. There went the pennant. Now relax, enjoy and push. My corner was past and now it was Conor's turn. Traffic seemed to be gathering ahead but shouts from the bank meant we knew where we were. Hammersmith bridge loomed ahead and our first overtake required some care, Putney Town, but the line seemed good. Then another bellow, this time from above, and it was time to wind up for the finish. Last 200m. Then last 10. Ignore the boats ahead, just go. Everything. The finish was there but when were we past it? Well, there was nothing left so we took it down.

No relaxing in the pair though. Spin. Upstream, trying to keep it together to avoid being washed downriver, and then the sprint across the still racing traffic (over 500 boats!) to get back to the pontoon and safety. Why am I always surprised how draining this is. And I am sure that the ramp gets steeper on the way out (I know!). Beer and food and wait for the time, the position.

4 th in Club, worth it and a good end. Always could do better, and want to do better, but happy (and we beat most of the Cambridge boats!).