HRC Masters – Vets Head, British Masters and Henley Masters 2017

Posted August 18, 2017 by Hillingdon Rowing

One of the club’s strongest sections is the Men’s Masters squad. This is for rowers over the age of 27, and racing is in age categories. It became clear early on in the year that we could boat some pretty decent crews at these events, and so an (probably overly) ambitious approach was taken and we entered men’s masters crews to some pretty major events.

The first was the Vesta Vets Head on Sunday 26th March. The main head race of the season, the Head of the River Race (HoRR) was due to take place on the Saturday beforehand, but this was cancelled at the last minute as the wind direction combined with the tide would make the course un-rowable (we did have a men’s novice eight entered to that, which had taken weeks of logistical planning and had resulted in the club acquiring its first eight from Molesey RC, so that was a huge disappointment). However, this combination of tides & wind didn’t affect the Sunday event so our masters novice crew still took part.

This was our first event in the newly-acquired eight. It needed the usual HRC pre-race ritual of being made water-tight with gaffer tape which meant we finally boated well after the final cut-off time dictated in the instructions (still not sure why we weren’t disqualified for being late!). This was followed by rudder issues which required the bowman and the cox to get out of the boat whilst still on the river for some in-flight-on-the-water repairs. Despite the best efforts of the fates, the crew got to the start, did the race and put in a very respectable time & performance. First seismic rowing event completed! Well done to Ed Marshall, Brendan Buckley, Emmanuel Rognoni, Larissa Butschek (who was an honorary men’s master for the day!), Sanj Odedra, Peter Williams, Matthias Koepp and Alex Burton (Rowing Tart). The Man of the Match without a doubt, though, was Alex’s mate, who coxed superbly. Huge kudos too him too for bringing along his cox box.

The next “I’m-sorry,-you’ve-entered-us-to-WHAT-Matthias???” event was British Rowing’s British Masters on Sat 10th and Sun 11th June at the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham. We entered so many crews to different events that I actually can’t remember how many events our crews were in. There were two memorable moments of the weekend: the first consisted of our coxed four bouncing off the top of the trailer and ending up in a hedge and the second consisted of a stonkingly-stupendous race in the eight, in which we beat the local Nottingham crew. Then the whole event came to a sudden stop on Sunday morning when the racing was literally blown off the lake by heavy wind. Well done to everyone who competed in our men’s masters crews at that event but especially the eight, being Matthias Koepp, Paul Braiden, Rob Hale, Peter Williams, Simon Berwick, Jon Neale, Alex Burton (RT) and Richard Roberts. Special massive HRC thanks to Ian, Matthias’s UCL mate, who coxed the eight superbly.

Impressive though that weekend was it was merely the amuse-bouche for the main event, the Henley Masters on Saturday 8th July. It was clear from the performance of our crews at the British Masters that an intense period of preparation was needed for the Henley event and all credit to the members of the squad as they all put family and private lives to one side and put in the time to rowing and land training over the four weeks to July 7th & 8th. Challenging and downright vicious erg training regimes were run by Peter Williams and the squad rowed fairly consistently together and big improvements were made. Huge kudos goes in particular to Daichi Ando, who sat in for missing squad members and coached everyone to a high standard.

HRC masters were entered into three events: the Master D eights and the MasC (Peter Williams, Matthias Koepp) and MasD (Richard Robert, Matthias Koepp) doubles. Luck of the draw put us into semi-finals for all races. Unfortunately, though, both the doubles were drawn against the ultimate winners from Texas Rowing Center who also won the MasB double event to make it worthwhile their travel. The eight rowed at 8.28 onthe Saturday against Grosvenor, from Chester. It was a fantastic effort: Grosvenor puuled away at the start but the eight slowly caught them up and lost by only a third of a length, the closest race of the day! It was a performance that impressed the spectators, and especially the umpire following the race in the launch, in the company of Lynda Rapp and Daichi Ando.

Rowing. As it should be done.