27 Jun Salcombe Regatta
This was the first regatta after the Scillies. Have to say that training could have been harder since the Scillies, especially for the boys. We seem to have taken our foot off the gas a little, which given our Scillies performance is pure madness!
Most of us arrived the night before with a view to having a quiet Saturday night out around Salcombe before the racing starts on Sunday morning.
There seemed to be something in the air at Salcombe. I have no idea what was going on but Steve had some car park trouble which followed a whole pile of ‘towing the gig there trouble’ (gig stuck on a silly hilly corner and road rage from the elder community in Salcombe – not ours I might add). Then a further report came in that Mark had some sort of trouble with a Salcombe car driving dangerously close.
There were primarily two different accommodations used. One with a Jacuzzi that reports suggested was filled with Rose wine. The incumbents from this overnighter revealed in the morning that it had indeed been a heavy night! The other was a lovely house near Kingsbridge where there was a music and food festival which sorted us out perfectly. How on earth we made it to rowing on Sunday is still a mystery.
So as Sunday morning dawns we turn up to launch the boat on the slipway at Batson Creek. The Salcombe members were very helpful in the pouring rain and the gig was towed around to the pontoons laid up outside the Yacht Club.
We soon ran for cover into the closest coffee shop around and tried to dry out. Thankfully by the start of rowing the rain had mostly died off. It did leave a wind tearing down the estuary in the same direction of the incoming tide. This was to make the first leg of rowing very difficult indeed.
First up were Mens B – Jerry, Steve, Len, Bryan, Sean, Andy. We lined up and almost immediately we were off. After only a couple of minutes we clashed oars with the Exmouth gig and Lennie caught the first crab of the day. His pin broke and he loudly exclaimed “No pin, No pin”. Steve rowed two one handed strokes in front of Len whilst passing a pin behind his back to replace the broken one. This didn’t help our cause but we battled on. With wind and tide against, the first leg to the first turn seemed to take an age. We were only just last at this stage but somewhat dishearteningly could see that the first crew had turned the third mark of the kite shape course already. This was a seriously hard race. We came last by some margin.
Next up for us were Ladies B. This crew was coxed by Mark, his first competitive race as Coxswain. The crew were Tash, Cath, Leiza, Kate, Sophie, Fiona. They had a fantastic start but after a while were beaten up by the wind and tide. They battled valiantly and showed amazing resilience and effort but I am afraid they also came last. Mark had a fantastic race as Cox.
By now the sun had come out and it was a stunning afternoon.
Next we were expecting to row in the Mens A race. This was 5 of the 6 crew that rowed as Mens B with Mark coming in for Andy. Len was unable to row on bow side anymore as his weakened wrist (from ‘tyre flipping’ he says) was inflamed. After discussion it was decided that we were unlikely to learn anything from this race as the standard would be so much higher than the Mens B race. We withdrew our race position. Leiza showed great resolve to persuade us not to withdraw but after giving us a little bit of a telling off the boys still decided that they weren’t rowing the Mens A race.
Now we had the Ladies A race – Nina, Terrey, Debs, Rosie, Sophie, Leiza. This was Sophie’s first competitive gig race and she was thrilled to be on the start line. A little discussion with the Caradon Cox about his kit was rather undeserved but we did find a good spot on the start line despite our water being taken by a drifting Clevedon crew. The claxson went off and we were lightning from the start. We hit the front really quickly and even got a mention on the commentary that Avona was in the lead. Alas as the race unravelled we were taken before the first mark by about 5 crews. The girls kept rowing in their lovely style. This was a full on competitive A race with some seriously good crews around us. In the end we beat only one boat but it was a great race and the girls all rowed brilliantly. Sophie; well done on your first race.
This was directly followed by the Mens Supers – Jerry, Bryan, Steve, Len, Sean, Andy. Again this was a difficult field to compete with. There was a change of sides to help Len’s wrist but that probably didn’t help too much as we still finished in last place. We have since discussed this and the boys need to get more training time on the water. It will get better.
The penultimate race of the day; the Ladies Vets – Nina, Cath, Debs, Terrey, Kate, Fiona. This saw Cath sitting in seat 5 which she loves and I have to say it looked like it with a grin the whole race. Everyone put their heart into this one and the result told the story. They beat 4 boats by quite some length. The effort was fantastic but this was applied with care so as to keep the timing together. A fabulous race.
Then the final race of the day; the Mixed crews – Nina, Terrey, Steve (swapped to 4 for Len), Len (dodgy hand so rowing 3), Mark, Rosie. This is often our best race and today was no exception. The girls set the rate and length and stay on this like clockwork. Our stroke pair were amazing. Jerry coxing us with great calm and information. We were level with our close rivals for about the first quarter of the first leg but then started to apply a little more pressure. Jerry kept pushing us when he felt he could and his timing was spot on. We eased half a length and then a whole length up on them. We had a personal battle here. By the first mark we had a length and half on them and as Jerry allowed them the inside line he made sure they went wide on the turn. We took two more lengths out of them on that turn alone. Well done Jerry. The sun was indeed shining and all we had to do was keep our discipline. We did this with professionalism. Out of the third mark we managed to surf two huge waves and what a great feeling that was. Half way down the final straight with the sun ablaze and our rivals in the distance behind us Jerry took off his hoodie and showed them the Clifton Moby. What a moment! What a race! It was our best of the day for sure and a privilege to be involved in. We were 5th from 8 starters.
Thank you to everyone who worked hard getting gigs there, unloaded and loaded and back home and to all the people that deal with the huge admin for a day like this. It is appreciated and all worthwhile.