Advice for competitive rowers: always read the small print before entering a head race. In the case of Newark, it stated that ‘Crews should note it is an 8.5 km row to the start’. Clearly this was not heeded by any of the Loughborough Masters, who had only homed in on the fact that racing 5K downstream in an Eight with the wind behind would be an easy day out. In fact, they had even calculated that they would expend so little energy that they should also enter the afternoon division, just to make sure that they got warmed up. Only one person, Captain Keith, had the intelligence and experience to see the flaw in this plan, since he had added up the total distance involved and realised that it came to the same as one and a half University Boat Races merged with a Great Ouse Marathon. So keen was he to avoid this extreme exertion that he immediately migrated to the Caribbean in order to ensure that he would not be forced to race. The senior Ladies also cunningly solved the problem by simply not entering. Tim and Walrus employed an alternative technique to avoid tiring themselves too much, namely by taking an unscheduled break in the middle of each race.
Meanwhile, Novice oarsmen Adam and Jonathan bravely and innocently set off for their first introduction to competitive racing away from the Soar. Jonathan very quickly got the hang of the required technique i.e. to initiate banter against Nick M – but maybe he should have picked on someone his own size? Having eventually reached the start Adam was heard to gasp that he was not sure he could row all the way back again. But with no time to pull in to the bank before the gun neither he nor Jonathan were able to jump ship and subsequently the rookie pair produced a fantastic performance in an action-packed row. This effectiveness was confirmed by Mike who burst into hysterical laughter just 100 metres into the race. With the crew wondering quite what was going on the obvious conclusion was that the Vet must have been on the medical spirit since breakfast time but it eventually transpired that the real reason was disbelief at the speedcoach’s recorded speed. Andrenalin was now flowing and with Nottingham and Union trying to ram us from astern a broadside of curses was exchanged between boats whilst Mike manoeuvred to try to bring Loughborough’s bowside blades to bear on the Nottingham prow. With the threat of boarders successfully averted the next obstacle came in the shape of the powerstation weir, which has a flow rate that makes the Victoria Falls look insignificant. So maybe not a good spot to ‘easy oars’ and hold the boat hard, especially just one stroke from the finishing line, but great for the dramatic effect in front of the grandstand.
The afternoon division saw a fine performance from Hannah and Izzy who negotiated the right angle bend with aplomb, and a good row from Scott and Mike who even looked presentably turned out or maybe we are just getting used to bright colours. ‘Woody’ drew admiring glances as always, even apparently from the teenage opposition who no doubt were wondering what this new-fangled shiny brown lightweight sustainable boat-building material was.
Editor’s note: Jerry claims he did not mess up the steering and crash on the sharp bend in spite of the fact that it may have looked like it….