Newark Head 2017
It is the first time Birmingham Rowing Club has made an appearance at Newark Head on 2nd December with a coxed women’s four, men’s four, junior quad, women’s double and five junior sculls taking to the river Trent.
We were all quite apprehensive about the 8.5km row up to the start line in the first division, and for a lot of the crews, it was the first time they’d raced such a long distance. But we set off early from Birmingham to ensure that we got to Newark Rowing Club in plenty of time to rig boats and have a detailed look at the course and settle the nerves. The row up to the start line is so long because the 5k stretch of the river is best for racing further up stream. Bigger boats can’t safely get round some of the tighter corners at race pace, so it was a long row up, 5km race down, and then a further 3km ‘cool down’ to reach back to the boat club. Even though it was a long distance, it was a treat to row for such a long time in one direction – something we’re not used to on our little stretch of reservoir in Birmingham.
For a 10:30am race start time, the women’s 4+ set off at 9:05am, allowing plenty of time to get up to the start line. We took our time to row up to the start, conscious that we didn’t want to use up all our energy. The long row up was useful, not only in helping us settle into the rhythm of the boat and do a couple of exercises, but also to keep ourselves warm on the chilly December day – which can’t be said to our poor (but wonderful!) coxes who endured the cold for the whole 17km.
The mens’ 4+ (Moritz, Harry, John, Mindy and cox, Phoebe) was first off the start and we cheered both them and the boy’s 4x on as they crossed the start line and made their way down the course. The men’s four started off really well with the boat gliding through the water and a strong rhythm was set. The crew behind did start to gain on them which spurred them on to fight back with enthusiasm, yet the long race took its toll around 4km in where the power seemed to drop. This was recognised by the crew who motivated themselves for a really big finish and helped them win the Open Coxed Fours category! Congratulations to them on their win.
The J18 quad (Maxi, George, Chris and Steve) followed shortly afterwards. They reported back they they enjoyed the race despite the long row up, and especially enjoyed rowing on such a wide and long river. They enjoyed the competition finishing third in their category with an excellent time also considering that they were banded with senior crews. Well done to them!
Then it was our turn in the womens’ four (Grace, Maria, Mia, Julia and cox Dani). We settled well into the race, feeling strong and using Lincoln University to push away from. We quickly got overtaken by two masters’ quads, but continued to drive each stroke feeling solid and unified. Again, around the 4km mark we started to lose the power in the boat, but Grace at stroke kept us on track and the sound and sight of the weir, where we knew just beyond lay the finish line, spurred us on right to the end. With marshals telling us to continue rowing, we took our time on the cool down, pondering whether we’d done enough to fight off Lincoln University who seemed to be in our sights the whole way down the course – it’s both a blessing and a curse to row ‘backwards’ because you can always keep your opponent in sight. Back on dry land and after a bit of a wait, we found out that we had beat the other crew and were claimed victorious with a 10 second advantage.
After a bit of a break, division two started. This was a shorter race at 3.9km for smaller boats that could get round the smaller bends. Here we had 5 juniors taking to the water in single sculls (Maxi, George, Chris, Steve, Ole). Hats off to the boys who raced in both divisions – it was a long way! All had good races with J16 Chris Finch coming in first out of the boys and finishing in 2nd place in his category.
Dani and Phoebe competed in the womens’ double where they felt like they improved on their row from the last event at Nottingham and looked forward to rowing together more in the future, improving fitness and training more frequently together.
A great day out that was well organised and thoroughly enjoyable. Congratulations to all the winners!
Written by Julia Dorrington