On a very windy and wet Saturday afternoon 13 Lea rowers took the 15 minute train ride up the canal to neighbouring Broxbourne RC for the first event in a series of regattas being organised this summer under the auspices of Explore Rowing and being hailed, informally, as the “Eastern League”. Lea fielded three crews which were comprised of members of the Learn2Train squad along with one welcome member of the Rec squad.
The regatta was aimed at giving non racing squads in the region’s clubs a taste of organised racing. Broxbourne is the first host of this type of event this year which will see St. Ives [Cambs], Bedford and Milton Keynes doing similar on through the summer and autumn.
Racing for Lea was in coxed 4+, although clubs were also entering coxed quad events as well. Format was side-by-side racing down a [sprint-sized!] 300m course on Broxbourne’s stretch of the Lea. A round-robin format guaranteed that each Lea squad got to race against every other crew that opposing clubs had put forth: these included crews from Milton Keynes, Bedford, Oundle Town and home team Broxbourne. The crews were almost all mixed and showed a diverse range of ages.
Lea1 was in the first race just after 5pm and after the only real shower of the evening got off to a convincing start which set the tone for the rest of the event. As light drew in, and very gratifyingly, each Lea crew had won every race they were in: 9-0 Lea! Rowers heard toward the end of the events starter officials saying to opposing crews ‘keep it long and strong… it’s what’s working for the Lea’. Much post-race discussion at the good-value BBQ Broxbourne laid on saw racing hopes lit for some and a feeling of a good day’s outing for all. The format of the event didn’t see Lea squads racing amongst each other but future events might see that happen and satisfy a competitive spirit which was hard not to notice. Hats off to all rowers as well as excellent work too by Broxbourne organisers on this first event of the season.