On March 15th, Loughborough Boat Club was fortunate to be able to row in a competitive race just one day before all such meetings were cancelled in accordance with the advice of British Rowing, the sport’s governing body. This followed an anticlimactic winter season in which almost all races had been abandoned due to flooding or high winds and even the Club’s normally placid home waters on the River Soar at Zouch had become unrowable for protracted lengths of time.
Aware of the likely shutdown of all sports gatherings due to the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic, fourteen Loughborough oarsmen and oarswomen took advantage of a last opportunity to race, making the most of the challenging conditions on the River Witham at Lincoln. Seven Loughborough boat crews raced in ‘Head Race’ format against 140 other boats over a 3,700 metre course. Even with the start times of the two divisions being delayed by one hour to allow wind and rain to abate somewhat, these were still difficult circumstances for rowing. This created a particularly difficult experience for Loughborough’s single sculler Mike Targett whose type of boat has minimal space for spare clothing or opportunity keep warm whilst waiting to race, and his performance undoubtedly suffered as a consequence.
The fastest Loughborough boat was the Womens Masters Eight, who completed the course in an impressive 15 minutes 39 seconds under the capable direction of Sandra. This crew is seeing the rewards of sustained and consistent training, in spite of recently losing the services of their full-time coxwain Rachel who recently completed her Veterinary training at Sutton Bonington and has moved to pastures new. It will be a lot quieter on the water now!
Three Loughborough Men’s Pairs were entered in the Masters event, although Keith and Charlie sadly had to withdraw due to a precautionary case of ‘self isolation’. With the age of rowers ranging from 28 to 59, the Masters handicapping system was always going to prove crucial in the official finishing order. Tom and Jerry benefitted from their seniority by winning the overall medal in an adjusted time of 15 minutes 31 seconds, beating Tim and Laurence as well as crews from the Royal Air Force and Peterborough Boat Club. However, Club Captain Tim and his Steersman retained the Club internal bragging rights by being 5 seconds faster in uncorrected clock time.
With all rowing now stopped, the Club’s own ‘Soar Head’, already previously postponed by flooding until 28 March, has now been cancelled, as has the Annual Dinner which was due to be held in April.