July 24, 2012

Single scull 1x for sale

Check out this stable skiff that has become available for sale by tender.


Then make your offer.

Tender closes at 12 noon on 8th August 2012.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 06:15 PM

July 23, 2012

Video of Henley Victory

Here is a video of the final of the over 60s single sculls (F1x) at Henley Masters Regatta that I won on July 7th. I'm very proud of this achievement so I'm blowing my own trumpet.

Click the like button below.

To get to this final I had first to beat Wilmer, an Irish giant (he must have been 6'5" and I'm only 5'8") from Old Collegians, in the 1/4 final who was sculling in the best Italian boat that you can buy. To be fair he should have been in the age group above but it was fully subscribed. I had a 2 length lead by the time I'd done 20 strokes! I gradually dropped my rate so I finished at only 26 but to my astonishment I leapt ahead in the final stages owing to the difference in the stream towards the finish. The verdict shown in the results was that I won "with ease", something I've never seen written down before! My time of 4.42 was the fastest of all the heats, which was a good omen but not really significant as West the defending champion, who was on the other side of the draw, also had had an easy race.

In the semi-final I was up against Roy Brook from Vesta who is a world record holder on the ergo for the lightweight 55-59 age group. He is not a natural lightweight, being 80kg now. He could barely believe that I was only 64kg and I haven't done a 2k ergo test since I was 39. It turned out he's only been sculling in a boat for 6 months. Chatting on the way to the start he asked me how long I'd been sculling. 42 years!

Again I had a 2 length lead after only 20 strokes and I wasn't doing anything special in my starts. Furthermore he had the advantage of the stream at the start. So again I took the rating down gradually and finished at only 22 strokes per minute saving as much as I could for the final the next day. I won this semi by 3 lengths but did not really have to try that much and my time was 20 seconds slower than in the earlier heat. Interestingly John West from Norwich also won his semi-final comfortably and in exactly the same time, 5.02. The impending final should be a good race.

In the final I had to swap stations and race on the Berkshire side of the river which meant that I should have an advantage early on in the race but that West would have the advantage at the end. He's always beaten me previously and at the National Masters Regatta 6 weeks ago he'd come through from behind. So I was worried. I needn't have been as it turned out. I was fit this time, whereas at Nottingham I had just had a two week lay off.

So it all went to plan as you can see in the video above. Sorry about the picture quality. It was just too wet and miserable to justify getting my really good camera and big lens out. Thanks to Julie for standing in the rain to take it and thanks to Rachel Chapman for shouting her support.

After the race
John West did attempt an attack as I had anticipated but I had too much of a lead by this time and I could see I would reach the finish before he did so I did not attempt a sprint finish and just made sure that I made no mistakes and finished ahead of him. The verdict was 1 1/4 lengths. I did have to scull hard and I could tell I'd reached the bottom of my lungs by the feint taste of blood in my mouth. Whilst I was catching my breath John West congratulated me and said it was a good race.

Then I was presented with my medal by Barry Gibb, who used to row at Royal Chester RC, our local rivals but who is now standing for parliament somewhere near Cirencester. I had this on good authority from Nicola Barrow, whom I'd bumped into at Henley Royal Regatta, the week previously and who used the cox the Liverpool Uni crew that I coached in 1993.

Finally I paddled back to the stage where Julie and Rachel were eagerly awaiting knowledge of the result because they'd run towards the finish and out of earshot of the commentary!

Peter Haining, 3 x World Lightweight Champion, congratulated me and said that I had not sacrificed my length for rating. Praise indeed. I said I'd rather have had his three gold medals than this one. But actually this is about the best I can do and really I am well pleased. :-))

Thanks are also due to my chiropractors Leander Mills and Gillian Smith for straightening me out now and then, to my yoga teachers Sarah Ramsden and Kirsty Jackson but most of all to my training partner Diane Moore. She has been a constant companion on the water and a steadfast support. We've kept each other going through some terrible weather when normally one would have looked outside and not gone training. Thanks Di.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 11:15 AM

July 16, 2012

I dunked my iPhone in the Sea

Sorry if you've been trying to contact me. I'm incommunicado at the moment as I've just returned from Brittany where, on Saturday, I absent mindedly left my iPhone in my pocket whilst I waded into the harbour at Port Haliguen to get the Astus 20.2 Sport trimaran onto its trailer and out of the water. Needless to say the phone stopped working immediately so I've sent it for repair.

You can try contacting me using the Contact tab above or by calling on my land line 0870 770 2728 or 01244 676188 where, hopefully, I am busy trying to catch up after my week away at Henley Masters Regatta (where I won in my single) and then in France, where I was picking up a new boat from Astus and some rowing boat spares from VirusBoats.

I also woke up to a flat tyre this morning :-(

It never rains but it pours! Talking of which... hasn't it been wet? Same in France!

Posted by Stephen Walker at 02:25 PM

July 02, 2012

The Joy of Rowing

I just returned from watching Henley Royal Regatta to a nice email confirming my opinion about the Joy of Rowing and indeed adding to the list of experiences that make it so enjoyable. Here it is.

"Hi Steve,

I'm far less experienced than yourself. In my 20's, I spent 3 years rowing from the beginning to a second place in France Universitary competition (8 in which I was n3). On the last year, we were rowing 2 hours every day (skipping the lunch) and 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Very often we suffered (mainly practicing with a yole on the sea) but for near 50 years, I have been waiting the opportunity to feel again this unique joy that you describe so well:
" The effort has been done and another effort is to come but the glide in between the strokes is effortless. Yes this is probably it. This is where the joy comes from."

And as far as I'm concerned, I had also a visual pleasure: the perfect (when the strokes had been perfect) round traces remaining on the water between the glides....
And naturally, also the sound when (unfortunately not always) the 8 strokes absolutely synchronized!

Well after your last message, I decided for a Turbo II wing and for the first time after exactly 46 years, I tried rowing again on a very quiet morning. Wow, it was much more difficult than I had thought: the first strokes were awful, the equilibrium uncertain, getting out of the water not clean, passage of the hands very hard (I hadn't ever sculled with a scull in each hand) ... After two hours, it was still quite ugly however, I was able to get some pleasure, to relax and keep the skiff balanced for some yards. I spoke of my test with such enthusiasm that my wife who, as tired of the kayak, told me she would like to try my virus!

For the last 5 days we had 5 to 7B winds and the skiff remained dry but I'm waiting impatiently the next session.

It's always a pleasure reading your mails. Unfortunately, my spoken English is so rusted that I'm not able to understand your videos. If some day you had subtitles (not necessarily in french) I could enjoy them.
Anyway many thanks for your boosting messages.

Kind regards


Posted by Stephen Walker at 03:55 PM