It was a hard choice, but Mike and Jen took the difficult decision to row at the Cascadia Masters Championship in Vancouver Canada, forsaking the annual LBC July pilgrimage to the Bewdley regatta. They swapped the drunken hoards outside the Mug Tree Inn for the Canadian and USA crowd who assumed that if they have travelled that far then they must be good!
The local club, Delta Deas provided the loan of some Hudson boats and excellent hospitality. It is nice to know that rowers round the world know where to find the best beer and food locally. They even seemed amused when the LBC flag dwarfed their small effort. Perhaps it helped that two Delta Deas club members were expats from Nottingham and Peterborough one of whom had previously rowed in the LBC regatta on the Plough straight.
6 lane racing on a straight buoyed course, 30oC heat and cloudless blue skies. Saturday saw Jen in a composite WMasF quad with 3 ladies from Delta Deas and Mike in the MasD single. Having had only one practice outing each, and Jen’s quad including one member for whom this was their first ever race, the quad romped down the 1000m in under 4 minutes fulfilling their goal, unfortunately slower than the rest of their heat. Mike came in 5th despite having been 3rd at 500M. He’s not sure the USA crews understood the LBC tradition of beer training the night before racing to help with stamina.
Sunday saw the main event, the divorce double! Mixed Masters E was a hotly contested event with 11 crews over two heats starting at 7am. Unsportingly the event included previously successful crews from the World Masters. Mike and Jen hastily adjusted settings on their borrowed boat as they rowed up to the start, much to the amusement of the umpires. The other crews seemed to be taking things much too seriously and did not believe they had never even seen the boat they were racing until an hour before the race. Jen and Mike surprised their opposition, and also themselves, by nailing the start and being very much in contention for the first 250m. However the opposition rallied and rose to the challenge overhauling them in the second 500m. 4th in the heat and 9th overall, only 3 seconds off qualifying for the final, a creditable effort – some more training might have been advisable. If Mike had not stopped rowing when he heard the buzzer for the crew ahead of him finishing it might have gained them the 3 vital seconds, but luckily I don’t think Jen realised!
So, no medals for rowing, but they were awarded medals for the most outstanding crew, or was that the most travelled crew. It was agreed by all that LBC raised the status of the regatta, not only by making it truly international but also by the brightness of Mike’s socks. It will be hard to return to training on the Soar, the occasional glimpse of a Kingfisher at the bottom is easily outclassed by the bald eagles circling over the regatta.