June 14, 2010

National Masters Champs

My crew and I, indeed, my club, Grosvenor Rowing Club, had a good day at the office yesterday when we competed very successfully in the National Masters Championships at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. The event has grown in popularity over the years and yesterday there were over 500 entries covering age groups from A (31 -36), right up to H (over 70) and even I (over 75 years)!

We were in the red boat nearest the camera.

I was steering our E (over 55) quadruple scull, E4x, from the bow seat and as we'd won a silver two years ago with one change in the crew we were hoping we'd done enough to win gold this time. We started well in the eliminator round, early in the morning, going straight into the lead and winning convincingly.

Straight into the lead

Only one of the six was to be eliminated but we wanted to lay down a marker and convince ourselves, as much as anybody, that we could win this time. We were surprised that Notts & Union were the unfortunate losers.

Three hours later I raced in the eliminator heat of F1x. Three out of four were to go through to the final. I had a good start and you can see I'm in the race and ahead of the Tideway Scullers' sculler.

However, by half way he'd overtaken me. Decision time. I was now fourth. Maybe I could get back to third. I was fit and could endure the full 1000m at this pace. But maybe I'd kill myself to get on terms and make the final. I felt I was never going to win the final so I threw in the towel and paddled light so as to recover in time for the quad final which was to be in just one hour. I needed a good long paddle afterwards to flush out the lactic acid from my legs and arms.

Then it was the final of E4x. Our main event. All the usual suspects were there and some new faces.

Frenetic activity during the start!

Tideway Scullers School, the leading sculling club in the country, took the early lead so I had to call for a push about 300m into the race before they got too far ahead to catch. We all dug in and lifted the rate and the boat speed and by 500m we had overhauled them and were in the lead. I informed the crew of this as I could see everything better than they could. TSS crumbled and soon we were half a length up on them.

It was pretty apparent to me where the next threat was going to come from. Away to our right in Lane 1 was the Dart Totnes crew that had beaten us 2 years ago. They train arduously and deserve everything they win. This training gives them great endurance and they often do better in the second half of a race than the first. The reason they were in Lane 1 was that they'd had a nightmare scull in the heat earlier.

I shouted "Dart Totnes!" to my crew so they all knew about the threat. Then I called another push with 250m to go. Could we hold them off? We'd covered the 2nd 500m of the eliminator round at the same speed as they had so maybe we could do it. They were still coming! We're up to the 200m mark and then up to the red buoys that indicate the last 15 strokes. Who was going to get to the line first? We threw everything we had at them but it was not enough and they had the gold again by just 1.5 seconds. What a great race to be part of. We were disappointed to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but not ashamed of our performance. We gave three cheers for the other crews and Dart Totnes cheered us back.

Arnold Cooke presents us with our silver medals.

Then we turned round to receive our silver medals from Arnold Cooke, who was the British single sculling representative at the Tokyo Olympics and won the small final and if I'm not mistaken is an ex-Kings School, Chester, boy as I remember the school once had an eight that was named after him.

Afterwards Dart Totnes were very gracious and seemingly pleased to have beaten us when we all shook hands on the landing stage.

Photographs above are all courtesy of Brian Chapman who was in the crew that medalled in 2008 and the final one is an official photo.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 03:21 PM

June 11, 2010

Prices slashed until budget

Just in case you have not noticed, we've REDUCED the PRICES of rowing boats to take advantage of special market conditions. These are:

The POUND is at a ONE YEAR high against the EURO.
It is now possible to REDUCE the cost of a YOLE, for example, to under 2,000 for the first time for a long while.
We may soon find ourselves having to pay more VAT.

Consequently these prices can only be held until budget day, 22nd June.

My recommendation: ORDER TODAY!

Posted by Stephen Walker at 03:47 PM