The camera never lies, so it is said. But closer examination of a recent photo of the victoriously bemedalled Loughborough Masters Mens Coxed Four would seem to contradict this assertion. For a start, Charlie looks as though his chest is actually wider than his waist. But he would like it to be known that this was not because he was deliberately holding his belly in, but rather that he was still breathing very heavily after his extreme exertion and the shutter just happened to click on a deep inhalation. Next, the lens would seem to have distorted the size of the crew’s cox: traditionally the Loughborough cox stands behind the oarsmen in photos since he is usually taller and heavier than them, but on this occasion Rachel has done us proud by mysteriously fitting the expected role of being small, female, light, loud, and able to stand in the front row! Finally, closer examination of the giant silver trophy clutched by Captain Keith reveals that the engraving on it does not in fact state ‘Mens All Comers Open Coxed Fours Heroes of the Universe’ (as Keith was telling his mates down the pub) but the wording actually states ‘Women’s Junior J15 single scull’. What a giveaway – and in a very undignified scene it sadly had to be wrestled out of Keith’s grasp and given to the sobbing 14 year old rightful winner.
Being female, the Ladies Open Eight solved the Loughborough winners’ cox photo dilemma by using their brains in a cunning fashion and thereby enabled ‘Tiny’ Tim to be pictured in front by holding him horizontally. The surprised look on Tim’s face suggests that this might be the first time that he has ever been at the receiving end of a ‘hands on’ call by eight girls simultaneously. Prudently, no-one made the call ‘To Heads – Go’.
The new British Rowing competition format produced some entertaining and close races, with several Masters crews now rowing in Open Category events. By losing narrowly in the semis, Vicky managed to avoid the difficult decision of whether you should let your daughter win if you are racing against her in the final. Although probably that is not an idea that would ever enter the heads of either Vicky or Emma, whose ultra competitiveness means that they are no doubt both well practised in thrashing their infant offspring at games since birth, in everything from ‘Snap’ to ‘Snakes and Ladders’. Hopefully Matilda will be gentle on her Mum and not remind her of the difference in distance that was achieved by herself and Hannah against the same opponents.
The Mens Masters Eight also had a difficult decision to make whilst squaring up to their twenty-five year old opponents from Nottingham and Union. Should they too roll down their all in ones to flaunt their six-packs, tattoos, and oiled bodies? After a quick group huddle the decision was easily reached that the rules of rowing prohibit upper body nakedness and that anyway we didn’t want a stampede of Ladies rushing over shouting ‘Look there’s Poldark and his seven brothers’.
Meanwhile, Shimmers discovered that if you don’t get disqualified you get a medal for crossing the line first, and Mike discovered that if you don’t cross the line first you don’t get a medal unless you get your opponents disqualified. The Twins proved that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible for them to cross the line second, although no doubt that is a cunning strategy to keep their personal ranking index low and thus avoid a head to head with Erica and Charlotte!
Next stop: Canadian Masters. How far does Mike have to travel to find a sculler who is slower than himself? But Ten out of Ten for determination, and in consolation some of Mike’s UK opposition have even been seen breathing heavily at the finish!