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Northampton Head 25th January 2014

Northampton Head is a favourite of OTRC for many years, even though the weather tends to play a part in the enjoyment of the event. Once again the weather played a significant part in the proceedings with a huge storm, hail, wind, thunder and lightning taking place in the last division. The wind had strengthened during the latter part of the third division to the point where the organisers prevented juniors and novices from boating in last division, meaning Sophie & Lucy and Jack were unable to race. As it turned out the organisers had made the right decision as the conditions rapidly deteriorated and crews struggled to stay upright. Two crews even chose to walk their boat back rather than row! 

Once again we were very well supported with many family & friends braving the biting wind to cheer on the club. Throughout the club there were significant performances and there were wins in the Men’s, Women’s and Junior sections of the club, so a very successful day all round. As with such a large entry, there are inevitably subbing opportunities and we are grateful to Brian and Philip who stepped into the men’s eight.

We don’t always pick out individuals but I think this weekend we need to award a “Man of the Match” to Philip. He rowed in three consecutive divisions as he subbed for the men in the eight. He won both his races and in the eight came 5th overall; a very creditable performance. Ben Honeywell was “Rigger of the Weekend”, turning up on Friday evening to trailer load, arrived first with the Landy and spent the whole day helping and rigging and even found time to win a race between rigging, and was at the club again on Sunday to re-rig.

WMasC W8+. (Vicky, Jen, Becky, Jo, Keely, Katie, Angela, Bex, stroke Rhona) 8:13 (WINNERS)

With Katie subbing for Claire, our keen and committed vet C ladies boated in division one, with the added surprise of not much wind, no rain and no snow. The river hadn't frozen, and we hadn't had to de-ice the boats. Could this really be Northampton head?

As the last boat to get onto the water there was very little faffing around, and to our joy, not much of a wait at the start. With Vicky stroking (as Smithy had been up all night with food poisoning), We quickly settled into a rhythm.  The beef came on, and we rowed a good, solid row, feeling that we had held our own. Rhona gave us some good calls, and our heads stayed in the boat. This seems to be a good thing, as we are victorious as vet C ladies, but assuming the MK IM3 ladies did the decent thing in the last division and clocked a slower time than us, we could have also been victorious at IM3, had the entry required it. Well done ladies!

Men’s Eight: (Simon, John, Andrew, Peter, Philip, Brian, Hugh, Alan, cox: Anita) 7.28

In the days before the event, Bob went down with man flu and Charlie E managed to injure himself while over doing it at circuit training, possibly a first for OTRC !! Many of his crew mates of a certain age are beginning to think that training must be bad for you. There was not any opposition in their age category so the OTRC crew had to enter IM3 meaning they were up against fit young university rowers and the like. Brian stepped up to sub and we were able to get a youngster of our own in the form of Charlie D, but unfortunately he injured himself on the day and we were very fortunate that Philip was prepared to volunteer to sub despite racing in the divisions before and after. At training the previous week the eight had a shocker and were a bit apprehensive about the race and with the enforced substitutions and changes in order the omens were not good. With some much needed grunt from our subs the Eight performed very well on the day giving it their all, although youth prevailed over guile and cunning, and the crew finished 5th fastest.

WIM3 4+ (Vicky, Jo, smithy, Bec , cox Rhona) 10:31

In the absence of any VetC oppo, we were moved to IM3, despite being ladies of a certain (or uncertain) age. We boated in division three, by which time the weather had changed, with a fierce and gusty wind which meant we would be against both wind and stream. An unpleasant row up, with no real rhythm and an intermittently functioning cox box; a testy marshal and a brief encounter broadside on with a navigation post, meant we were a little edgy before the start. Luckily we had the traditional Northampton head 'hour wait', which meant we were able to pep ourselves up before the race down began. 

The trying conditions made for hard work, but we felt we had our heads pretty much in the right place, and kept focussed despite being overtaken by some fitter and much younger men. Unfortunately our only oppo were in the disastrous fourth division, which was pretty much abandoned due to capsizes, lightening, heavy rain and really strong winds. I think we would probably have beaten them anyway, but the adverse weather conditions meant that we can't be sure. I'm sure after a few beers in the ship tonight; we will probably have beaten them by a good couple of minutes.

Women’s Novice Quad: (Lauren, Lel, Ellie T, Lucy) 9:31

Along with Sophie and Charlotte, these girls make up the older junior section and are currently taking it in turns to race in a quad or double, while Lucy and Lauren are taking it in turns to steer. In the last few training outings, when the weather permits, the squad has been coming on in leaps and bounds. They raced in division 3 as the conditions deteriorated wind started to strengthen considerably and it was very encouraging to see them keep their form in the difficult conditions.

Women’s Novice Scull: (Lel) 10:15

Lel, as part of girls J 18 squad, rows in the quad but also works hard on her 1X, concentrating on her leg drive. Single sculling is one of the most competitive events and it is difficult to choose between racing at Novice level, competing against older athletes, or racing at J18 and competing against her own age, but girls on high performance programs, who are able to get on the water many times a week. She is competitive at both levels and once again at Northampton, rowing in Div 2, she had a good row pushing the opposition hard.

Girls J14 Quad: (Ellie N, Olivia M, Beatrice, Louise, cox: Sophie) 12:19

This was Louise’s first race having started rowing the summer. The girls have been moved around the boat to them the chance to experience what it is like to set the pace and what it is like to follow the rhythm of the stroke, who on this occasion was Ellie N. The girls set off to the start in Div 3 in sunny conditions but signs that the wind was getting up a bit. By the time they were trying to marshall up at the start the wind was very tricky and they found it difficult to keep station. The hardy supporters were getting cold further down the course, so the girls must have been cold waiting to race. They eventually raced down as one of the last junior crews on the course and therefore in the worst of the windy conditions and a couple of times hit gusts that really slowed down the boat. Despite rowing in the toughest conditions they stuck to their task and maintained the timing in the gusts and did very well to be in the middle of the pack when the results came out.

WJ16 4x-  Emily, Heather, Melissa and Julia.    9.36 (WINNERS)

Despite minimal training outings in this line up the girls had a good row. This was their first race on this course , so well steered by Julia.

Well done girls!

WJ15 2x    Rochelle and Becky.    11.14 ( 5th of 8)

This crew was up against some strong opposition (8 crews). They kept their nerve despite being chased down by two boats throughout the race. A good row girls, well done.

J15 4x+  Ben, Will, Will, Jordan     9.11 (WINNERS)

In a crew with 2x 14 year olds and 1x 13 year old this was a good win for this crew against older crews. They were ably coxed by Charlie Dunn. Well done!

Mas D 1x: (Philip) 8:52 WINNER

We all experienced the turbulent waters of what looked more like the mighty Limpopo than our humble River Nene, so, half expecting to see hippos and crocodiles, I set off to the start and endured the necessary but unfortunately long wait for the “off”.  Still feeling the effects of low exercise levels over Christmas, I had low expectations and as a result, a fairly relaxed attitude.  As soon as my number was called however, the red mist came down and off I went desperate not to be overtaken.  A couple of lads in a double had a good go in the first half but they soon faded and, with the very welcome encouragement from OTRC members on the banks (single sculling can be a lonesome experience), my lethargic frame carried me to the finish.

As luck would have it, and despite my atrophy, I came home with a trophy! (sorry!

Vet D double scull (Hugh and Phil) 9:14 – this was with a handicap of 11 secs WINNERS

No sign of Philip when we were called to the water’s edge, he had already rowed in the First and Second Division ...what a hero!  I thought that he must have fallen asleep in some quiet, corner, replete with his special recipe flapjack, but he eventually arrived and we reported to duty 'fashionably late' ...but at least we were pointing the right way in the boat this time. We still sat for 45 minutes waiting to start... emerging, eventually, from the shelter of the side channel into the disconcertingly rough waters of the main channel. We managed to row at  a steady rate and keep ahead of the opposition avoiding all obstacles (well done, Phil) and were going so well at the end that we forgot to stop and had to slam on the brakes (Phil had drunk too much coffee and was keen to get back ASAP)..Absolutely no idea how we did.  Were we robbed of our title as the club's fastest boat? I have absolutely no idea -I just know that it was very hard work!

Nov 4+ Richard, Tim, Ian, Jack, cox: Paul 8:48

Beyond all expectations the first outing of our crew was greeted with sunshine and a fast following stream as we made our way to the start. Minor wobbles were under control before a delayed start, Paul happily chuntering on his lack of pots recently (perhaps berating us for not covering him in glory recently!). The start…delicately, Richard caught crabs. Diagnosis: wind. Our boat’s mishap out of the way (and minor it was too), we had an good row, balanced and steady through the majority of the race, enthusiastically whipped by Paul from the rear to flat out and Jack’s disgust at the old chaps from the bow. A solid state row, our first with Ian, a brilliant new crew mate and Cox, Paul, took some great race lines down the course for us. Not the fastest race due to heavy oncoming current, wind, Christmas etc but some great potential! Jack will be sorely missed from the crew.


Other Results (for which there are no reports):

Nov 4+ 8:48 Richard, Tim, Ian, Jack, cox: Paul

Nov 4+ 9:04 Charlie D, Jamie, Jock, Josh cox: Anita

Nov 1x 11:49 Richard


Editor’s Note: Thanks to Captain John for all the usual stuff and then for driving back/forth to Northampton an extra time to sort out the trailer and get all the kit home.  We love you, Captain!