For our first race of 2015, we were lucky enough to stay on our home turf. On the 21st February, members from each of our squads entered the Trafford Head of the Bridgewater, picking up an impressive collection of medals. Despite only being 3200m on familiar water, with some athletes racing 3 times and snow and hail on top, it was a tough day.
In the 1st division, we had some of our top athletes competing in singles, Sam Thornton in Elite & Jake Brown in IM3. Both won their divisions comfortably and with only 1s between the two, Jake showed that he is always catching up. In the 2nd division, there was the Senior Men’s & Novice Women’s 8s, and the Senior Women’s & Novice Men’s 4s. And finally, in the 3rd division, we had Senior Men’s 4s, and Senior Women’s & Novice Men’s 8s.
In the Senior Men’s 8s, our top boat was racing unopposed in IM1, so was aiming for the course record (also held by a Manchester crew). Unfortunately, they narrowly missed out on this goal, but still beat the second fastest boat by almost 40 seconds. Our 2nd senior boat included a few novices for experience, and still managed a 2nd place finish in their division, which was also respectable. After a quick bit of lunch, they were back out again. The 4x & 4+ were the 3rd and 4th fastest boats of the day respectively, both winning their own divisions by almost 30 seconds, and only coming 3 seconds apart (despite the difference of 4 blades & a cox). Our second 4+ won their IM3 division, showing clear promise for what was essentially the Novice 4+ last year.
For the Novice Women’s 8s, they enjoyed a successful 2nd race, with an easy 1st place, over 20 seconds on 2nd place. Their limited experience did not show to onlookers, with a confident race which could easily be mistaken for a senior boat.
The Senior Women also had a strong day. With a 4+ in IM2 & IM3, as well as a 4x in IM2, they each were the fastest in their own divisions. Their top 4 comfortably came in with an almost 2 ½ minute lead, rowing well with a comfortable line up in the boat. The 2nd 4+ won by 40 seconds, also rowing a strong race. The quad raced unopposed unfortunately, but beat plenty of quads from other divisions, whilst also looking confident themselves. Despite start line rigging issues, the 8 saw the fastest time of the day for any women’s boat by a large margin. With a last minute scratch, they raced unopposed, but were still able to receive medals for their hard work.
Finally, the Novice men also put out a number of respectable performances. First, in Division 2, we saw the first novice 4+ ever raced by this squad. With less than 6 months experience rowing, it was clear that their hard work had paid off when they came less than a second behind the 2nd Senior 4+, and beat their only opposition by over a minute. We’re all excited to see what they can do later on in the year. In Division 3, we saw them race two 8s, picking up 2nd & 3rd in the division, demonstrating good depth in the squad. I was very glad to see lots of smiles, despite them almost all being soaking wet. Clear improvements can be seen from their last races, with lots of promise in both boats.
Overall, Manchester entered 15 boats, winning 10 of those, with another 2 racing unopposed and unbeaten. A successful local race for all squads, we now look forward to the rest of the season.
Ben Walters started rowing at MUBC in September 2013. Credit to Henry Law for the photographs.