Loughborough Boat Club finally returned to full strength at an action packed regatta weekend. For the first time in nearly 2 years, the Club was able to field crews that demonstrated the full range of its membership, with 35 of its boats racing both at Stourport on the River Severn and at Peterborough on the 1,000 metre four-lane rowing course. Male and female Club rowers with ages ranging from 15 to 70 battled alongside other local clubs and after a long absence there was once again the welcome sound of spectators and supporters being allowed to cheer their Club’s boats on.
Just a few weeks after taking part in Loughborough’s ‘Introduction to Rowing’ course for beginners, ‘Junior 15’ rowers Amy Blythe and Bella Davis raced for the first ever time in their Double Scull. This is a remarkable achievement and shows how quickly Amy and Bella have mastered the basic rowing technique and discovered the competitive spirit for racing side by side. Amy and Bella’s opponents at Stourport were from Trent Boat Club and although the girls finished second they gained significant racing experience and thoroughly enjoyed the Regatta atmosphere.
At the other extreme of the age range, veteran oarsman and long time Club member Nick Maker celebrated his 70th year by racing in the Open Masters Quad, using his significant experience in the Bow seat to guide his crewmates Mike Targett, Andrew Martin, and Scott Ferrris along the twisting 650 metre course but ultimately finishing 2 lengths behind a powerful crew from Warwick Boat Club.
Undoubtedly the most exciting race of the weekend was created by Isabella O’Toole and Thomasin Storey who ‘dead heated’ with their opponents from Evesham BC, and thus were required to return to the start line for an immediate ‘re-row’. This repeat race is one of the most challenging events that a rower has to face, with no time to recover from the exertions of the first run. For a second time, both crews raced neck and neck along the length of the course, with Isabella and Thomasin eventually putting in a supreme final effort in the closing stages to win by just 1 foot – the narrowest of margins
The versatility of the sport was well demonstrated by the Loughborough Mixed Masters Eight, a category which requires a combination of males and females in the crew. This popular format always creates a strongly competitive race and the Loughborough boat crewed by Tilda Haines (Cox), Vicky Haines, Emily Senior, Nadine Storey, Paul Corrigan, Jonathan Cox, Phil Gunning, Natalie LaValley, and Jen Smith narrowly lost to a Stourport crew.
Tom Scholefield and Ruaraidh Little in the Open Men’s Double Scull have been having an outstandingly successful season, including winning in their class at St Neot’s Regatta earlier in the month. At Peterborough they finished in an impressive second place out of 25 crews by completing the 1,000 metres in a fast 3 minutes 19 seconds
Loughborough Ladies Open Double Sculls crew, Charlotte Shields and Erica Gummery were defending the trophy that Erica had won earlier in the year on the same course with crewmate Zoe Poyner. In a much larger field they won through to the C Championship Final, although this time they could not quite bring home the silverware. In the same category, Isabella O’Toole and Thomasin Storey qualified via a time trial for the D Championship final and finished that race in a very creditable second place. In the same category but at Stourport, Emily Senior and Tilda Haines beat Worcester Rowing Club by two lengths before succumbing to Warwick Boat Club by a similar distance in the Final.
With bragging rights at stake, Loughborough’s Masters D Double Sculls crew, Mike Targett and Scott Ferris raced against fellow Club rowers Jerry Heygate and Tom Haines. With 5 crews in the time trial and only the fastest 4 progressing to the final the two Loughborough Boats desperately battled to avoid last place, with Tom and Jerry eventually nosing ahead into 4th place by the narrowest margin of just one second.