Head of the Cam 2016 - results and wash-up

Thanks to all competitors, marshalls, volunteers, umpires, Queens for hosting us, and of course my mother. The results are now available. The winners: fastest Men CULRC; fastest Women Cantabs senior crew.

Category winners

You can find these at the results.

Men

* Elite-IM2 1x: Loughborough, Schofield

* J15 1x: Nines, Champion

* J16 1x: City, Oliver

* J17 1x: Leys, Middleton

* J18 1x: Nines, Bennet

* MasC-E 1x: Robs, Oeffner

* Nov 1x: Nines, Butler

* Mas D-F 2-: Loughborough, Hill

* Elite-IM2 2x: Nines, Ryan

* IM2 4-: City, Wolverine

* IM3 4+: City Marten and Nines Gemmel, equal

* Mas D-F 4+: Broxbourrne, Phil

* Alumni 8+: Downing Segreants, Mike

* Fastest Men8+: CULRC, Weasely

* IM3 8+: City, Stoat

* Mas D 8+: Robs / Lysander

* Mas E 8+: Broxbourne, Adrian

* Nov 8+: Nines, van Gent

* Mays 1 8+: LMBC M1

* Mays 2 8+: LMBC M2

* Mays 3 8+: Clare M2

* Mays other 8+: Hughes Hall M2

Mixed

* Mx 2x: Cantabs / FaT

Women

* J17 1x: Leys, Hope

* Nov 1x: Cantabs, Senior

* IM2 2-: FaT, daSilva

* J17-18 2x: Leys, Black / Derbyshire

* Nov 2x: Robs, RL

* Alumni 8+: Christ's Crustaceans

* IM2 8+: Cantabs, Senior

* IM3 8+: City, Tayra

* J17-18 8+: Cantabs / HillsJ18

* Mays 1: Jesus W1

* Mays 3-Other: St Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish, equal

Pots we owe

Due to a pleasing late surge in entries, we had more categories that we expected, and so we ran out of physical pots on the day. Sorry about that. We haven't forgotten you though. We believe that the following didn't pick up their pots on the day, and we'll get back to you when the fill-up order comes in, in a week or so.

* Loughborough Scofield x1

Robs Oeffner Mas C x1

* Robs WJ14 2x

* Nines Butler Nov x1

* City Wolverine Im2 4-

* City Marten Im3 4+

* City Stoat Im3 8+

* City Boaty McBoatface W J14 x1

* Broxbourne Phil Mas E 4+

* Broxbourne Adrian Mas E 8+

* Christs W Alumni 8+

Reflections

It all went very well, I thought. Everyone seemed happy anyway. We weren't quite as on time starting divisions as we usually are; this was largely due to crews being late to the start. Please try to get own promptly, especially if you're amongst the small boats at the back. The rebuild at Combined made boating somewhat tricky for visiting crews, but they managed. The weather veered back and forth during the day, but could have been a lot worse. "Race control" at Queens was far away from the action; the actual blow-by-blow race control was at the finish, and next year we'll probably reflect that in the naming to avoid confusion; "race control" at the finish, "race HQ" at Queens. Clearly we stuffed up our pots ordering, we'll try to learn from that. 

Getting the results together in between the last timesheet coming back, and the prizegiving at 4, is always a bit of a flutter. Inevitably there were a couple of bijou mistakes which were fortunately corrected for me by those affected, where I managed to pick the wrong winner for a category. My apologies to those whose hopes were briefly raised only to be dashed.

Mostly the draw was OK, but there were a couple of clashes in the fourth divisions. There's a problem with fast fours and slow VIII's; the VIII's pretty well need to be in a block, especially if the division is full; so if you're a fast four behind a slow VIII then leave a gap. We'll also try and organise the marshals at First Post, the Gut, Grassy and Ditton to be active in reminding crews to cede the racing line.

Spring head to Head 2016

After the wild excitement of the Head of the Cam it's back to the mundane racing life with the City Spring Head to Head. We had entered our mens's IM3 VIII, rather weaker than the crew for the winter Head to Head; the women's IM3 VIII; and Keith our lone sculler.

Here are the results, which were published commendably quickly.

Of the Men

L to R: Dave Richards, Dan McGreal, Lewis Clark, Brian, Your Humble Correspondent, Lewis Gray, Ondrej Cervinka. Chris Wood took the photo as a way of refusing to be in it; our cox Simon Emmings had run off with the women.

L to R: Dave Richards, Dan McGreal, Lewis Clark, Brian, Your Humble Correspondent, Lewis Gray, Ondrej Cervinka. Chris Wood took the photo as a way of refusing to be in it; our cox Simon Emmings had run off with the women.

We got 15:00.7, which was pretty tolerable for a mixed IM3 / Novice crew with only one rather ropey outing under its belt. Faster than Winter H2H 2012 anyway :-). We were the fastest Town crew by raw time - admittedly against fairly thin competition - and won IM3 pots. Where am I going to put them all? On the (gloriously sunny) start line we looked at the crew ahead - Nines IM3 - and behind - Downing M2 - and thought we ought to tailgate Nines - who would surely be faster - so as to let Downing leave us a large gap. This plan totally failed. We turned out to be faster than Nines, by (as it turned out) 20 seconds over the first leg, so got to row in their puddles the whole way and nearly overtook them on the finish line. All good bumps practice. Meanwhile Downing, who started a rather close 7 lengths behind, caught up all but 3 of those on the reach which started to look worrying for clashes around Ditton and Grassy, but fortunately that was most of what they had, and they finished a length or so off us, 13 seconds faster (actually I find that puzzling; surely they were more than 13 seconds faster than us?). The way back was less exciting: we left Nines a larger gap, and Downing, whilst not over-generous with theirs, finished about 3 lengths off us.

Witty moment: no-one had told Ondrej it was 2 * 2km; he thought the first leg was all there was, and paced himself accordingly.

Other years: winter 2016: 14:28.6. 2015: 16:41 as the Mx VIII. Winter 2014: 16:26.

Keith did 0:20:28.3; which puts him 2/3 in CRA Nov 1x, beaten by the Mighty Morley.

Of the women

The ladies came 3/3 in 17:39; but "I think the results don't really show the full story.  It was an epic first leg. St Edmunds gained quickly on The Reach but then we held them off racing side by side for the remaining 1200m round the bends, keeping our cool despite clashes of blades,  they eventually overtook but we were within a canvas again by the
end".

Training camp Sabaudia

For years we've been jealous of all the other folk who head off to training camps; and finally a combination of an auspicious year and someone (Dan; thanks) actually prepared to organise the thing made it work. We had a critical mass of people - 15, of which 10 male and 5 female - enough to give us an VIII, coxes, a launch driver, spare in case of injury, and some to scull.

Dan began to organise in December, for the trip at Easter in late March, which was the most obvious time enough people could spare the 4-5 days. We considered Seville (river in the city, Spain) and Sabaudia (lagoon next to the sea, Italy). From the outside, it is hard to judge between them; I think the choice in the end came down largely to ease of dealing with the site. Mooted cost was of the order of £500. Most but not all chose to travel roughly the same way, but some went earlier to have a day in Rome, and some came by train. There is more at a series of blog posts I wrote, but here I'll skip the details other than to note that we hired a large minibus to take us the 100-odd km from Rome to Sabaudia, as the easiest means of transport.

Front L to R: Brian, Will, Simon E, Me; Rear L to R: Lewis, James, Anne, Simon L, Pamela, Lorraine, Dan, Amanda, Amy, Chris, Keith.

Front L to R: Brian, Will, Simon E, Me; Rear L to R: Lewis, James, Anne, Simon L, Pamela, Lorraine, Dan, Amanda, Amy, Chris, Keith.

Here we all are on the last day, happy and smiling in the sunshine. It was just as well we had a couple of spares, because Chris came down with a flu / cough on the first day, and Brian damaged his leg on a nearby mountain near the end, of which more anon. But you want a rough flavour of what the place was like. Try this:

We're coming towards the end of the rowable portion of the lake (about 3.5, or if you stretch it 4 k of lake is rowable; try a GPS trace if you want to see where it fits). Behind, making a magnificent backdrop, is Monte Circeo. To the right is a long high sand dune behind which is the sea; to the left out of picture is the town. Whether the lake would have gotten a bit wavy if the wind had got up I don't know, because the wind didn't.

Looking back from the pontoon to the coaching launches and the outside boat storage; the low building in the background is the rowing club.

Looking back from the pontoon to the coaching launches and the outside boat storage; the low building in the background is the rowing club.

Here's a general view of the grounds nearer to the clubhouse.

Rough diary

Tuesday (for those coming a day early): Rome. Wednesday (official start day): travel Rome airport to Sabaudia, check in to hotel, evening outing. Thursday: morning and afternoon outing. Friday: ditto. Saturday: morning outing and (for those who wanted it) afternoon off for excursions. Sunday: morning outing, return to airport, fly home.

That was about right; enough rowing to be fun and to get some work and some coaching in, not too much to get stale.

The general plan of days was breakfast; morning outing; lunch; afternoon outing; evening meal. All meals were part of the deal. There was plenty to eat, these people are used to rowers, and the food was decent. The hotel "la Palme" was fine; here are pics of the building and my room; judge for yourself. It is a 10-to-15 minute walk from the rowing to the hotel, depending on how much you saunter, though the back streets and past the lemon trees. Sabaudia itself is pretty quiet in March; I suspect it comes to life rather more in the summer. Sabaudia is known for its fascist architecture; while I wouldn't want to look at it for too long, the church is interesting in concept.

Outings were a core of an VIII, filled out by those who wanted to scull, double or quad according to taste. We'd hired the VIII for the whole time, and hiring other stuff seemed possible. Don't be mislead by the vast racks of boat though: most of those belonged to visiting clubs like the Ukrainians.

Good bits

The location is good, as a place to row it is excellent, the sea is just over the dunes, the weather was good, there are excursions to be done if you'd like a break from rowing, the hotel was fine and the town also fine. You get a coaching launch to drive, and I found that video from the coaching launch was superb as a training resource.

If you want convincing that its a good place to row, then: the Ukrainian national team was in residence, OUWBC had been, the Italian national team had been around, and the Krauts had been here a month or so before us. However, all these people brought their own boats.

It was pretty quiet on the lake, with few other crews, other than the hard-as-nails Ukrainians steaming up and down. If there had been other crews, the wash from their launches might have been annoying.

Bad bits

Not much was bad. The only bit that grated was, unfortunately, important: the VIII had no speaker wiring. How on earth they thought that made any sense in this day and age I really don't know. It was a decent stiff Empacher shell, but not much looked after. So the cox got a loudhailer. The shoes look a bit ropey too but are actually OK; the fastenings really are hex nut not wingnuts, but you brought a rigger jigger didn't you?

Excursions

Run (or cycle) along the beach and then follow the path up Monte Circeo. Super! See my GPS track for route details. Warnings: if you run along the beach its a fair way; and the track up the mountain is steep (it was on the way down the day after me that Brian put a hole in his leg). If you look at the pic, you'll see there's a somewhat lower sub-peak; there's also a path to that; somewhat less strenuous. Or, hire bicycles and visit the pretty San Felice Circeo and continue round to the sea. Or there's lots of proper cycling along lovely raods, but you might want to bring your own bike for that.

What about next time?

Would I go back, or go to Seville or somesuch? I don't know. It was a good place, marred only by the VIII needing some TLC around the edges. But it would be interesting to try a "city" experience, too. I'd be happy with either. Were you thinking of trailering your own boats, Sabaudia would be a long trek; you might prefer, say, Aiguebelette.

WeHORR, 2016

 

Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (WeHoRR): 1 Championship rowing course (4 miles, 374 yards); 89 years of history; 200+ volunteers; 320 boats and their coxes; 2,560 women rowers. I had been looking forward to it for a while…

Most of the crew gathered at Cambridge Railway Station to catch the 8.45pm to Kings Cross. For the 24 hours previously I’d been enjoying tweets from crews all over the country starting their journeys towards London and now we were on our way. As the only tideway virgin in our crew I was feeling a tinge of trepidation so when the others loaded up with caffeine at the station café I stuck to calming green tea. 

Hot beverages in hand we boarded the train.  The weather in Cambridge had been kinder than forecast but there was snow on the ground by the time we passed through Royston and we hoped that conditions weren’t too bad for the trailering contingent on the A1(M).

At Kings Cross we jumped on the Piccadilly line and were in Furnival Gardens not long after 10am. The trailer had already arrived safely and we set to putting the boat together along with a number of other clubs boating from Furnival Sculling Club. Again the weather was kinder than forecast and although it was on the cold side, there was no snow on the ground in London, the rain was holding off and the winds were light.

A couple of us went to look for a convenient bush to accommodate our pre-boating comfort stop, circumventing having to use the over popular Furnival Sculling Club toilet facility and, according to Jo, peed on her Quaker ancestors who are buried in Furnival Gardens. Then it was time to tackle the Furnival Sculling Club’s launch facility. Our training plan had been pretty comprehensive but had not included carrying our boat down a muddy metal ramp. Interesting.

Safely on the water we headed first across the mighty Thames then up towards the start at Chiswick. It was still a bit chilly but otherwise the weather continued to be calm. We reached our marshalling position in good time and watched as other boats passed and gathered.  Will’s cool coxing, with quite a bit of tapping activity especially for Meg and Amy in the bow, kept us in place while some around us struggled to deal with the flow of the river and the growing number of other boats in close proximity.

Then it was almost time to race so Lorraine, Amanda & myself dekitted down to our onesies. We tried to convince Alex to do the same so that stern four looked uniformly badass but she was way too sensible. It is probably at the point that I should have paid more attention to the fact, Anne, who has been rowing tideway for over 30 years, kept both her beanie and her poggies on. 

Just after we spun and headed towards the start there was an omen of what was to come when a large wave came up from stroke side and hit the number 6 position full on, eliciting a squeal from Amanda and leaving her drenched in river water. 

Then we were off. A good start and we got quickly into our rhythm. We reached our first landmark at Barnes Bridge and suddenly we hit a squall – the temperature plummeted, the wind and waves got up and the sleet began. It felt like someone had hurled a bit of gravel at my shoulder: Having never known the sensation of hail stones on my bare skin before it look me a moment to realise what was going on. While it was bad enough that the hail and sleet was hitting our backs, seated as he was in the other direction,  it was hitting our cox’s face but Will did a masterful job of carrying on and didn’t mention that he had to close his eyes a couple of times until after the race.  Five minutes later the tempest went as quickly as it came and we were back to the standard level of challenge though the precipitation had done something to the speaker system and Will sounded like he had been replaced by an alien.

Passing under Hammersmith Bridge we could see the Chesterton Flag and hear mega cheers from Simon and Alex RG. It was great and spurred us on to the finish. Going on through Fulham Railway Bridge, we spun and headed back to Furnival.  Having never rowed WeHoRR before I couldn’t appreciate the pleasure of being 95 rather than 295 as much as my crewmates but it was fun to be able to see crews still racing and it took my mind off the fact that we now had to row against the stream. Our time was 23:35.5 – not as fast as we had hoped but under the circumstances not so bad and, according to one informed observer, “very tidy”.

The pre-race toilet experience at Furnival Sculling Club was nothing compared to the post-race changing room experience which was definitely not a place for anyone with privacy or claustrophobia issues.  But, having changed into dry cloths, derigged and retrailered the boat, it was off to the Rutland Arms where our fabulous Captain, Lorraine, who has all the right priorities, had booked a table for us all on the first floor with excellent views of the Thames. Here we indulged in beer, food and good company before departing back 

Camwards. I arrived home no-longer a tideway virgin, feeling tired but relaxed, happy and accomplished and very grateful of my crewmates and club for making the day possible and successful.

* WeHORR 2010

[By Dawn H]

Winter league

After the third and final leg, our overall results are:

* IM3 men: 6th equal overall in 30:20

* Novice men: clear winners of the, errm, novice men category in 34:25

* W IM3: 37:30 (4/4)

* Mx 2x (Steven / Katherine): 38:36

* W Nov: 40:00 (4/8: Robs J / Champs J / 99 (Dotty) / Chesterton / Cantabs (F&J) / Cantabs (Darcy) / St Mary's / Rad)

* M Nov 1x (Keith): 45:24


Since there was discussion on fb, we have some historical results too:

2014 - 9th (09:28, 09:28, 10:05)

2013 - 21st (11:08, 11:00, 10:20)

2012 - 28th (11 somethings, 10:40)

2011 - didn't enter

2010 - didn't enter

2009 - didn't enter

2008 - 3rd (a somewhat anomalous year; due the CRA stubborness, we were technically entered as S3 and S4, and not allowed to count as one crew; but we would have been third. Note only two legs that year).


Revise this a bit later; presently the rest refers to after leg 2

Legs 1, and 2 so far. Results (and leg 2) show our IM3 crew at 5th overall; here's the top ten:

  1. Cantabs IM2 09:42 08:59 18:41
  2. Cambridge 99 IM2 10:04 09:09 19:13
  3. RRBC IM3  10:23 09:24 19:47 [up one]
  4. Cambridge 99 IM3 4x 10:09 09:50 19:59 [down one]
  5. Chesterton IM3 10:40 09:42 20:22 (leg 1 at the start; leg 2: from towpath by SE; brief bit near railway bridgetedious riggercam video of William)
  6. Cantabs M2 IM3 10:50 09:34 20:24 [up from 8]
  7. Cambridge 99 IM2 10:47 09:41 20:28
  8. Leys/RRBC 11:02 09:47 20:49 [up from 10]
  9. CCRC IM3 10:59 09:54 20:53
  10. X-Press XP1 11:05 09:51 20:56 [into the top 10]
  11. Cantabs Hills Road J18  10:44 10:26 21:10 [down from 6]

That's quite pleasing. Tabs 2 have significantly upped their game over leg 1; we'll need to strive to hold them off. We just exceeded 1:30 briefly at the start. Most of the top crews took a minute off their leg 1 times in leg 2; the weather switched from a headwind in leg 1 to a tailwind in leg 2, stronger in the later divisions.

The men's novices are doing well too, after 2 legs we're a minute ahead:

  1. Chesterton M N 12:20 #31 [leg 2: 12:20 10:52 23:12, #27] (tripod cam video from leg 2; or from the bank by Simon L)
  2. Cambridge 99 M N 12:38 #40 [not in leg 2]
  3. Champion of the Thames (Gay) M N 12:57 #54 [leg 2: 12:57 11:14 24:11 #37]
  4. St Neots M N 13:44 #94 [leg 2: 13:44 12:02 25:46 #76]
  5. Cambridge 99 M N 15:16 #137= [leg 2: 15:16 11:21 26:37 #92]
The men's novice crew just before the off, looking keen, as well they might: still leading the men's novice category, now by a minute!

The men's novice crew just before the off, looking keen, as well they might: still leading the men's novice category, now by a minute!

 

Our W IM3 VIII are at (13:12 12:02 25:14) behind IoE, Robs, 9s and Champs, and were ahead of Cantabs * 2, but those have vanished in leg 2. The W Nov VIII have (14:17 12:54 27:11), 5/8 (video from leg 2)

Steven and Katherine are currently at #76 (tied with Sarah Airey!) with 13:43 12:16 25:59.

And lastly Keith Lee is holding the Chesterton Sculling Crown at #129: 16:51 14:13 31:04.

 

 

 

Christmas head

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The worst bit was the appallingly bad crew names: 

Oarll the trimmings (313): 8.37.8
The Gravy Boat (308): 8.47.8
Eight too much (311): 9.13.3
Prawn Coxtail (309): 9.19.7
Rowst Poartatoes: 9.20.9

It would probably be unfair to say which was which, since Simon did a good job of mixing us up. Suffice to say that I won :-). To start with, the often-unsung heroes and ines who pull the strings.

(all pix are nicked from Rob Roy, BTW, since Paul-the-official-photographer had a little accident after the party, or so I'm told).

So much for the shouty bits at the back. What of the powerhouses?

There was a good crop of costumes this year, too many to pull out individually. The "captain's prize" list was Dave "cabbagehead" Byrne, #2. But I've forgotten who was #1 and #3! Never mind, someone will remind me. I'm fairly sure Chris "carrot rasta" Wood didn't get his just deserts.

As you'll observe, some were unwise enough to wear costumes so voluminous that they got in the way of rowing - notable winners in this department included Steven and more particularly Simon L, who went to absurd lengths. I did not fall into this foolish trap, you'll notice.

While I'm here, I should congratulate Bailee on her fantastic result in the British indoor rowing championship, coming 8th in the 2k and gaining an incredible silver medal in the 500m! (only losing by .4 of a second, in a time of 1.38.8, to someone who had not done the 2k).

 

For reference, boats and crews were:

 

The Gravy Boat (P O'Kane)
Will M -cox
Alison
Dave R
Steve P
Steven A
Lewis C
Emily C
Dawn
Claire

Prawn Coxtail (Walker)
Simon-cox
Katherine
Andy S
Dan
Russell
Barney
Rachel C
Evelyn
Katie


Eight Too Much (Webb)
Robert Nimmo-cox
Amanda
Amy
Chris
Neil
Conor R
Simon G
Alex RG
Becca

Row-st P-oar-tatoes (Octocox)
James T-cox
Brian
Jo R
Simon L
Peter
Annie
Lorrena
Lindsey
Mike PJ

Oarll The Trimmings (Dawntreader)
Meg-cox
Lorraine
Alex
Dave B
William C
Keith
Jo A
Lewis G
Sarah D

Fours Head

Or the Vets Fours Head, for those of us not pointy enough. First the Ladies, by Lorraine. Then the Men, by William.

Saturday - Fours Head (Robert; Bailee, Jo, Amanda and Lorraine)

The start of the race on Saturday was delayed whilst a decision was made on whether it should go ahead or raced on a shorter course to Hammersmith.  In the end it went ahead as planned and as no one sank it was obviously the right decision.  Starting at 462 out of 467 at least we would have had plenty of warning.  Although prepared for the worst donning bin bags the the wind and rain had mostly past once we got on the water.  The first part of the race (to Hammersmith) went well we pushed off two crews behind and Robert held his line whilst we overtook a crew with a fairly aggressive cox behind trying to take the stream. We were cheered on from Hammersmith bridge by Simon with the Chesterton flag. But the conditions then became more choppy, we lost a bit of momentum and a couple of crews overtook us at that stage.  The final stretch to Putney was tough as always but we finally crossed the finish line pleased with our race.

The Ladies, and an extra from a nearby audition for a remake of "This is Spinal Tap".

The Ladies, and an extra from a nearby audition for a remake of "This is Spinal Tap".

 

Women's IM2 4+:23.21     22/27 in category 345/372 overall

Sunday - Vets Fours Head (Will; Anne, Meg, Jo and Annie)

The pre-race photo in Furnival Gardens looked calm and peaceful but the conditions past Hammersmith were described by some as the worst they'd witnessed in 15 years!  By all accounts the race to Hammersmith went well but as the conditions worsened after Hammersmith the crew tried to hold it together and battled on through the waves.

Women's Vet D 4+: 26.20   6/7  in category

A special mention to our lovely coxes Robert and Will and to Jo for braving the conditions both days.  As always racing on the Thames is a unique experience so different from the Cam.  Challenging, slightly scary at times but fun!

Sunday, Men - Vets Fours Head (James T; William, Chris, Steven, Dave)

We'd trained hard - two whole outings, a total of five yes I tell you five reaches - and were determined to put the full depth of our training to the test. Although there was some doubt if the riggers were on properly. Never mind. The boating went well, I even got a last minute wee, and we were off. There was none of yesterday's torrential rain, indeed conditions were quite pleasant, though there was a bit of a breeze. Comedy of the row up was when we started zig-zagging uncontrollably, and the marshalls starting patronising James and telling him that he needed to take account of the stream. We pulled in at Quintin - they were frightfully nice about getting out of the way for us - and James checked the rudder - no - then the fin - oh, yes, there's a big block of wood stuck to it. Oops. Things went rather better after that. Sadly we forgot to keep it and mount it as the "tideway coxing prize".

Fettling the boats before the off. Who let that giant into our crew of pygmies?

After that we had to actually row. As IM3 IV+'s we were a block of five between the women's quads. Maidenhead were in front of us at 153, Lea behind us at 155, then Oxford Academicals and local rivals Press. After say a minute it was clear that we'd got off to a tolerable start, and were unlikely to be troubled from behind, which is always nice. Somewhat later James was calling us as three lengths down on 153, and gaining nicely. Then two and a half, then two, then we had quite a long phase of gaining nicely but mysteriously staying at two lengths, I do like that. But then we went past them, hurrah, aided by getting a better line on the stream. In the moderate distance behind us it looks like the Evil Demons of the Press were going past OA and then Lea, and were probably gaining on us; but sice Lea had faded to a long way back that was still quite a way behind us. At some point we overtook our second victim, which may have been 148, Ardingly, WC 4x. After Hammersmith the river turned and the water grew really quite choppy, which slowed us down a good bit, since it exposed our distressing lack of balance; and pulling the blade back through a wave is tricky. Opinions differ as to whether dropping down from 30/31 to 27/28 was a good way to deal with the poor conditions in that section, or whether we should have bruted it through. Suffice to say that no-one got what they actually wanted. But, we finished.

GPS trace, including heart rate, so you can tell that I was working.

Having started at 154 we finished at 98, in 22:47; 2/5 in the IM3 category. Or 22:52, if you include the as-yet-unexplained 5 second penalty they gave us. Was it because they knew we had Tidy in the boat? I've mailed them; if they reply, I'll update this. Press beat us by 27 seconds, boo.

"row like dogs, get up with fleas" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoqCyGIguLc

There's the video. I challenge you to watch it all, its pretty dull :-). BTW, we were entered as IM3 because we didn't know exactly who would be in the crew when the entry went in, so didn't know if we should have been Vet C or D.

Huntingdon head, 2015

The Huntingdon head was something of a mixed experience for us.  The ladies did well, winning pots as VIII and IV+, in 16:51 (fastest women's crew) and 18:51. The men however suffered from an incomprehensibly stupid draw (who puts a 2- in front of an VIII?) and had to settle for 4th place in 15:15. But as Simon E said, one of the men won two pots. Division 1 was still, grey, but dry. Division 2 was a little wet, I understand.

Simon E (cox); Anne, Annie, Jo, Meg.

Simon E (cox); Anne, Annie, Jo, Meg.

The men's row wasn't our finest - we rated 32 for most of the course, and would probably have been faster at a longer 30 - but it was quite decent. Unfortunately the aforesaid 2- was ahead of us, and we left it a large gap (alas either not large enough, or too long: with a small gap we'd have got past in the first 2 k where you can overtake) which lead to us overtaking it - on the fourth attempt - towards the end of the course (one, two, three, at last). And then there were the comedy ducks (just as we'd got past the pair, James called us "OK, settle down now, concentrate, our race...").

How much time did the draw / pair lose us? We'll never know for sure. My estimates range from 1:30 (looking at the GPS track) to a rather conservative 0:45 based on a rough guess at splits. Just 1:00 would have won us the event, which is frustrating.

Crew: Me, Dan McGreal, Simon Lloyd, Steven Andrews, Simon Green, Mike Prior-Jones, Brian Stevens, Keith Lee. Cox: Mr Tidy.

Trailering by Mr Emmings; our thanks again.

Notes on the course: its a nice place to row, and fairly close to Cambridge, so it was good to go and see it. If you're going to overtake, do it in the first 2k or so, after that its a nightmare. The course is 3800 m not 4k. Slightly regrettably the boating stage, which will take one VIII, is just on the course side of the finish line, so everyone stacks up around the town bridge waiting for the division to finish before they can de-boat. If I were them, I'd buoy off a thin channel so that people can sneak back off while the race is still on.