On the 4th of October four of our athletes and our coach, Matthew Hackett, were up in the early hours of the morning for the journey down south for the Pairs Head of the River Race on the Thames. All five of our members who made the journey arrived in London and noticed that they would have the home-field advantage with the rain pouring down as grey skies covered the river. Boating first was MUBC’s senior pair of Sam Thornton at stroke and Jake Brown in the bow seat.
Having been preparing for the race for only a week and jumping into their borrowed boat from Liverpool Victoria RC the lads paddled up and down to warm up and slotted into place. On the way up our pair was met with the same phrase, as they positioned themselves amongst the other senior entries for the day: “It’s a bit far for you guy’s to travel isn’t it, for one race?” Having already been written off by their opposition on the water it was time to set off.
Out of the blocks, our lads started one and a half lengths behind Thames RC and spent the first third of the race rowing in their wash. Past the bandstand they pushed to get through them, which proved to be a long process, Thames having practice on the tideway, and were able to keep the better line. In the final third they managed to open a length and half lead over Thames and they started pushing hard for the finish.
To the surprise of Sam and Jake when they went through Hammersmith Bridge the course had been extended to 4.5 km. So they did the only sensible thing and kept winding. It proved to be a long final 1500 m.
Elsewhere on the tideway, in Women’s Intermediate 2 pairs, MUBC’s Ro Charles and Becky Hartwell were gearing up for the start.
They had also spent just a week in the pair together, and it was their first time racing in one. The girls got into a solid rhythm early on and managed to overtake two crews in their category! From there onwards they kept pushing themselves further and further, Becky doing a fantastic job of manoeuvring around the competition, whilst also making full use of the stream.
In traditional pairs head manner, it took a while before results came out. The four-hour journey home was split into several stages, results-wise. An hour in and provisional times were up. As all four competitors were checking their phones frantically, and initial signs were good. As the car got closer to Manchester the official results were out. Our senior men’s pair won by six seconds and the girls managed a respectable 11th place in a very competitive category.
Winning senior pairs on the Tideway gave a great sign of the way the club is progressing into the 2014/15 season, and Sam, Jake, Becky and Ro are looking forward to getting back into bigger boats for the upcoming British Championships.