14 Aug Post race celebrations at Lyme Regis
An early start saw Avona be the first gig to arrive in Lyme Regis. The friendly members of Lyme unloaded, launched and rowed her around to the beach inside the Cobb ready for another fantastic days racing. A short walk around to the Cobb and a few of the Clifton early birds had breakfast in Luke’s motor boat. Very civilised but no Earl Grey tea – need to sort that Luke.
Wind light, sea looking flat but the expectation was for things to get a little rougher as the day progressed.
First up for Clifton were our Mens Super Vets. Fourteen boats lined up in the start line, Debs took an inside slot and we were away. Not our usual great start as we didn’t manage the running start most other crews did. However we quickly pulled it back together and stayed with the first all the way to the first turn on the kite shaped course. Our Cox called for a huge effort before the turn and the crew gave her enough space to get right of way to the boat outside us. A fabulous turn, sprint away again and we found ourselves middle field with boats trailing behind us. A huge push to the next turn and once again Debs had us around it in no time. Same routine again out of the turn and the final straight back to the finish line. The sea swell being much easier to cope with this way Clifton pushed hard. We left a string of boats behind us and pushed them away all the way to the finish. Finished 6th and extremely chuffed with a fabulous row. Rob stroked the crew and what a magnificent job he did.
A small rest and then Ladies A up for their race. The sea starting to get bigger. We borrowed two rowers from Exmouth, Tanya and Karen. Off to the start line and thinking we were in a great position we realised when the Weymouth boat were shouting at us to back up that our radio wasn’t working. Disaster, whilst going backwards on the start line the race started. Not to worry, once again the girls rallied and got us going brilliantly. On the outside line we had all boats on our inside. We stayed in contention all the way to the first mark just behind a group of gigs. A good turn saw our bow on the rudder of the boat in front. Another push for 20 and we drove closer only to find that our competition rallied again. We chased them all the way to the finish and didn’t lose any more ground. A huge effort and even though finishing last it was a fabulous effort racing against full A crews. We are not beating A crews yet but we are getting closer every time we go into the water. Well done girls.
Next race, Men’s A. Radio now working we were ready for the start this time. This time Luke stroking the boat. Boy has he gone on about wanting to do that and finally his chance. Pressure though…c’mon Luke. Martin from Bridport helped us out in seat 1 and Fleecy swapped to the stroke side in seat 2. The race panned out similarly to the Ladies A race. Sticking with the field to the first mark, great turns from Debs and a race on with another boat for last position. At some point when we were just at the back of the field Debs declared “Fantastic rowing boys; we’ve got them just where we want them; all in front of us!”. Blimey, straight out of the school of motivation!! Despite this, the boys stuck to their job and never faltered. Luke did a fine job debuting in stroke. We finished last but once again we never gave up and we learned a huge amount racing with the best and dealing with the increasing swell and chop.
Now we had the Ladies vets. We had Pat from Ilfracombe help us out in seat 2. Fiona stepped up to take seat 1 having only ever stepped into a gig twice before. Now this was a baptism of fire. The sea still had a swell which had gotten much bigger and the wind whipped up a chop on top. Difficult. I have never seen anyone smile from the first moment they stepped in a gig, right through the race and until they stepped out on the beach. Fiona loved it and blimey she did brilliantly. Pat talked to Fiona throughout and thank you for such amazing help Pat. Fiona might have gotten the bug there Fleecy! As for the race it was just amazing. Off the line the girls were brilliant and positioned middle of the pack at the first mark. The Cox asked for big 10’s and 20’s and the response was instant and made a difference every time. It was so easy to Cox because the whole crew were so switched on. Around the turns we had boats all around us, the noise from other crews exhilarating, the effort shattering but the results just fantastic. The girls crossed the line 9th out of 14 boats. What a race! The whole crew loved it. Well done Fiona and thank you again to Pat. Seriously well done girls.
Now we had the Men’s Vets race. Out of the blocks well and again stayed with the field most of the way down the first stretch to the first mark. Debs calling for huge effort we just failed to get water over a boat on our inside. Rounded the turn well but because we had to hold off we lost a length on the inside boat. The race was on. There is always a race within a race. We stayed with them to the second mark and tuned in the same position. Then we had to chase them all the way back to the finish. The swell was huge by now and conditions difficult. We stuck to them all the way home and lost the little battle. However what we had done in the battle is push two boats behind us so far away. Really, they took ages to finish after us. This was very pleasing and again another great race behind us. More experience in such conditions under our belt and 12th from 14.
The final round then. The Mixed race. Back to shore to get two more girls, Cath and Nina and Debs moving from the coxed seat to row. Three boys stayed in the boat, Steve, Lennie and Fleecy. This was going to be hard for the boys having only just finished the vets race. Jerry stepped in to Cox us and Nina and Cath took the two stroke seats. Taking an outside line we flew off the line and stayed right in the middle of the pack all the way to the first turn. Jerry pushed us all the way asking for 10 and to see where that puts us. We gained ground in every big 10. Around the first mark we popped out lying 9th out of 12. Same again around the second mark and the race was on. We had a boat ahead of us on both the bow side and stroke side. With a lot of work to do we set about taking the closest on stroke side. We continued to make steady progress catching them and as the water flattened slightly the closer we got to the Cobb we were catching them at a rate of knots. Avona was running and we were in our stride. With the effort we caught the now side boat too and the dash for the line was on. Every stroke saw us closing. We could hear Clifton cheering from the Cobb and whilst we pushed on we left it slightly too late for our final push. What a row though finishing in 9th place. The crew were tight together and as usual the mixed crew provided fantastic fun rowing.
Back to shore and welcomed by two bottles of Champagne. Mark and Fiona’s wedding anniversary that day and what better way to spend it, a sunny day on the water in Lyme. Bubbles went down a treat and a night in Lyme beckoned. A few pints spilled whilst prepping Avona for her homeward journey perhaps set the scene. As usual, little food was taken on until last orders in the chippy and then some special drinks in the Pilot Boat. More spillage (Baileys this time) and time for bed; absolutely spent but very proud of probably our best regatta yet. Same again, every week we are getting better. Lennie even declared that he reckons he now has the measure of the waves…..time will tell!
Not sure of next outing. Maybe Torridge and maybe Helford after that.
Well done Clifton.