Wallingford regatta 2016

The first of May 2016 saw the traditional opening of the multi-lane racing season, with Wallingford regatta. A first opportunity for clubs to test crews at the top end of their squads, in anticipation of Henley; the regatta was fully subscribed within 24 hours of entries opening.

With the men’s challenge 8 in one of the first heats of the day; club Captain Richard Ellis prudently chose to leave the club at 4am; thereby avoiding the hordes of marauding Morris Men who would soon erupt onto London’s streets to celebrate the abundance of Spring.

Whilst good weather was plentiful, the racing bore less fruit, with a mixed bag of performances for the Lea.

The first showdown for the women was in the challenge pairs, where Bridget and Amanda, winners of this year’s pairs head went head to head with the newly formed lightweight pair of Maribel and Rachel. Unable to quite replicate the Lea-on-Lea side by side drama of two years ago, it was still a close race, with Bridget and Amanda finishing 2nd to Marlow and Maribel and Rachel 2.5 seconds behind. Next up was the women’s challenge 4- (traditionally a high quality event), with an imposter, in the form of the (now retired…apparently) Maddy Foster, in the stroke seat they finished last, but in a tight field. The afternoon saw the women’s club 4+ in action; scraping into the final they pushed ahead of their nearest rivals to finish fifth: they came off the water feeling positive – as a newly formed crew, there is plenty of room for improvement. The afternoon also saw the junior girls eight put up an impressive fight in the challenge eights, against some of the country’s top women’s crews, eventually finishing 5th in the final.

The men also had some mixed performances. Sealing a place in the repecharge for challenge eights, Evan suddenly succumbed to a bout of, what one can only presume (I didn’t enquire), was food poisoning and so the entry was scratched. Whilst disappointed not to race again in the morning Ant was pleased to have gotten up at 4am to do it, as this meant he was able to eat his morning coco pops a whole three hours earlier. The afternoon saw the eight split into two fours. The coxless four made it into the repecharge, but progressed no further. The coxed four had a better showing, albeit in a smaller field, winning their heat and eventually coming second to Agecroft. The men’s club eight also raced. They didn’t want to talk about their result. So I won’t.
All in all, whilst for some praying to pagan deities may now present the best option; for others merely human effort may be sufficient to produce some excellent racing as the season progresses. Watch this space.

Rachel Lund

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