British Rowing Masters Championships June 2016

A sizeable contingent of rowers from several squads in the club travelled up to Nottingham for the British Rowing Masters Championships on Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th of June. Held at the Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre, this regatta features multi-lane racing over 1000m on a purpose built straight course.

‘Brit Masters’ is a major event in the racing calendar for those of us over the ripe-old-age of 27, at which age we are officially classed as ‘masters’. To bring an element of parity to the competition, races are divided according to the average age of the participants in the boat; ‘A’ crews average less than 36 years old, ‘B’ crews average less than 43, etc. The theory is that the older crews are likely to be slower, but of course that is not always the case!

It did not take long for Lea crews to meet with success. The first event entered by the club was the Novice A coxed 4’s on Saturday morning. Andy Mudie, Andrei Simion, Steve Palmer and Shaun Griffin, coxed by the indefatigable Sally Lawrence, cruised to a 20-second victory over their sole opponent, Monmouth Rowing Club. What a great start to the weekend, with the boys losing their novice status at such a grand venue!

The only other Saturday race for the club was in the Novice A Quad, where the crew started scrappily and caught a crab before settling into a rhythm, but it wasn’t enough to compete with a strong Thames RC crew.

Sunday brought the bulk of the club’s races and more positive outcomes. The men’s IM3 B and IM3 D coxed 4’s were out on the water by 9:30, in remarkably calm conditions. The D crew fought hard after a choppy start to finish outside the medals but with the rest of the pack. The only competitors for the B crew were Oxford Academicals – the B guys had a so-so start but steady rowed away from their foes, to finish 11-second victors.

Shortly afterward the women’s IM3 C coxed 4 took part in a thrillingly competitive six-boat race and emerged in second place – three second behind the winners and one second ahead of third place. They were especially pleased with their time of 4:18.99 – and their silver medals!

Although the infamous winds of Holme Pierrepoint were thankfully absent, the rest of the day was beset with spates of steady showers and the doubles racers were wet before they got in the boat. Berk Yildiz and Shaun Griffin but in a brave effort to finish fifth in the IM3 A/B/C Double event but unfortunately an equipment failure prevented Phil Green and Anke Hagena from taking part in their IM3 D Double race.

In the later afternoon, the men’s H coxed 4 crew had the bad luck of coming up against a composite crew of rowers from Upper Thames, Ardingley and Twickenhem, at least one of whom was an Olympic Rower, and lost by a mere 7 seconds after a close race. The men’s IM3 C eight – formed by combining the crews from the two IM3 coxed fours, had a solid row but finished behind Thames and Furnivall.

More successful was the women’s IM3 D Quad, who finished second out of six boats in their heat and went through to the finals of the event. In the penultimate event of the regatta, the ladies improved 10 seconds on their earlier race and finished in fourth place, but with second, third and fourth place boats separated by only 1.4 seconds!

Overall then it was a very good weekend for the Lea Rowing Club, with a lot of positives to bring back with us and to build on as we ply the reaches of our own river Lea.

Ian Richardson

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