2013 World Rowing Masters Results

Although for some young’uns the rowing season ends in July, for the more mature members of TRC it ends in September after the World Masters Regatta. This year the regatta was held in Varese, Italy, and a contingent of younger TRC members, Pauline Rayner and several friends from other clubs filled a trailer with boats and headed south.

The format is simple. Everyone has to be at least 27 to compete, you race in the average age group for your crew (or in a younger category if you want), and medals are awarded to the winner of each race – there are no heats and finals.

Day 1 saw the A-grade ladies team up with Chrissie from Barnes Bridge and a Wallingford RC quartet to race the B8+, a hotly-contested event in which we opened our lungs and got a feel for a beautiful flat course. Later on Carrie and Jo both raced singles, in different heats but posting almost identical times – Carrie gaining bragging rights by 0.15 seconds. Unusually, Pauline had a slightly unsuccessful day without winning medals.

Day 2 began early for Carrie, teaming up with other Tideway rowers to race C4- and winning decisively. The medal started a run of successes; Jess and Jo raced the Thames Mischief to a win in their heat of the A2x, hanging on as crews from Sweden and Germany ate into their half-length lead to win by a canvas. Donna and Carrie, in a tougher heat, were less lucky but again the times of the two crews were almost identical – this time only 0.1 second apart.

The big drama of the day came in the A4+. Having recruited a cox from Thames member Carlos’s Brazilian club GPA, and with a solid warm-up under their belts, uncertainty kicked in when Jess’s collar came loose. She fixed it, but then as Donna was backing down on to the start pontoon her gate snapped underneath the fastening. Suddenly, the boat was unrowable. We waved and tried to explain to the Italian officials what had happened and ended up paddling across to the centre lanes where the officials jury-rigged the gate with cable ties and parcel tape. With an empty lane between us and our two opponents the adrenalin was running fast, but we won the race almost from the first stroke and finished with clear water over the German crew in second and a Nottingham composite in third. The gate held, as did the loose bolts in Donna’s backstay.

Pauline subbed into a German quad, but had another dry day medal-wise. In the evening the A4- proved tough for the younger girls, with a strong neat row from Nereus giving them the victory by five seconds. However Thames did hold off Dynamo Moscow – a nice scalp.

Day 3 was another early start as the A4x was the second race of the day. We knew it would be hard – the Europeans tend to be good at sculling – and so it proved. We were in the mix until 250m, but sadly it’s a 1,000m race …

In any case, it was only a warm-up for the composite A8+ later, featuring former Thames rower Deb Mallinson, Jo, Carrie, Jess, Donna, Chrissie, and Sue and Sally from Reading, with GPA cox James again in the steering seat. We borrowed a Wintec from Nottingham for the race and despite having had just one outing we had a storming start, pulling away from a Hannover crew to win by about a length in a fast 3.16.

Meanwhile Pauline raced the G-K4+, pulling out to an eight-second advantage by the 500m and winning comfortably, her first win of the regatta. In the WF8+ her composite pulled back a one-second deficit at the halfway mark to beat an international composite of Olympians by 1.18 seconds.

The other big event of the day was Carrie finding the car horn and learning to drive like an Italian. While Pauline cheered on friends at the course, the A-grade girls did a bit of shopping (mini blades, World Rowing towels and jewellery proving popular) and left the hustle and bustle of the course for the peace of the hotel pool and the last rays of sun.

In the evening around 24 people from the Tideway clubs converged on the Chinese-Italian buffet restaurant near the hotel for a feast of food and good company. A late night meant getting up in the morning and going to race again was a bit of a struggle.

In the mixed B8+ we combined with a group from Carlos’s Brazilian club and some Germans, including an incredibly tall but silent five-man, and combined instantly into a pretty powerful unit. Our opposition from local club Varese rocked up late in a wooden Stampfli and we had half a length by three strokes in. But you can only beat who turns up.

Jo also raced in the A4x with Chrissie and two of Carlos’s crewmates, coming a close third; Carrie and another Brazilian were second in the A2x and Carrie and Carlos rounded off a busy regatta with the A8+, where tired legs took their toll.

Other mixed races during the day saw Pauline triumph in both her races, the mixed F and mixed H-K8+. The latter race also featured the regatta’s oldest competitor, former Thames member Charles Eugster. At 94 he is fitter than most 50-year-olds and a true inspiration.

Overall the Thames trailer came home loaded not just with boats but also with medals, the Thames ladies alone bringing home a total of 18. Next year is in Ballarat, Australia, which promises to be just as much fun.

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