Rutherglen

When I was thinking about writing this post all that came to mind was “there were lots of races and then there were some more races and some people won and some people didn’t”. I thought I should probably expand on that a bit…

On the weekend of 13-14th January we ascended en masse for the 150th annual Rutherglen regatta. It’s a thought to imagine what the regatta would have been like all those years ago, how many people would have attended, what clubs they came from and what the boats were like.

RRC Rutherglen 2016
RRC Rutherglen 2016

Saturday’s races were all 800m. We learnt a few valuable lessons that day. Crabs are bad, buoys are evil, corners shouldn’t be in races and make sure your oars are locked in properly and then you’ll be fine. Oh and watch out for that other boat.

I had persuaded Stef into entering her first single race. It gets a bit lonely out there on your own. She humoured me and agreed to enter the D-grade single. We took advantage of the quiet period around Christmas to sneak in some training but despite training, practising starts and races it’s still a different game when there’s actually other people in your race! Your anxiety peaks, heart beats faster, what ifs sneak in. What if I capsize, what if I crash, what if analysis paralysis? If I make it to the finish line without going swimming, it’s a win. With no team mates to chat with, crack silly jokes with and ease some of the anxiety in the starting area, there tends to be chitchat with the other singles while also sizing them up as competition.

As Stef lined up at the start I reckon I could see her shaking! Attention. Row. Off she powered into the distance and then it was time to focus on my race. I felt really good and despite a bit of a shaky start I managed to push my way in front. In the wise words of Tim and Barry when asked for race advice – “get in front and stay in front”. This was the first time I had the opportunity to apply that advice and as I manoeuvred myself around the corner and back into what may or may not have been my own lane I found myself well ahead. I was struggling to keep it looking and feeling clean at god only knows what rating. As I rowed past the tent site I could hear all the awesome Richmond people cheering me on and I panicked slightly “You’re going to make the final and now you’ll have to race it all over again! That was NOT in the plan!” I relaxed slightly to conserve energy for the final but the finish line couldn’t have come soon enough. I was breathless and in shock that I’d somehow managed to make myself eligible for the D-final.

Later in the day I had to repeat the morning performance. No pressure. This start was worse than my heat, (I’m sensing a theme with my starts) and I had a challenge from the girl in lane 4 to keep me motivated. I edged ahead and had a fight between body and mind to get to the finish as my body told me no, no, no but my mind told me yes yes yes.

Sarah Houghton WD1X winner
Sarah Houghton WD1X winner

Rowing in crew boats feels so much easier (but still hard) after singles. Pretty much the whole race feels shorter, faster and less mind power is required especially if in a coxed boat.

I was lucky enough to row again in the same four from the Carrum regatta – Stef, Karen and Lindsey. This time we were determined to turn our prior close second into a win. We were a bit wobbly and dubious about how we would fare given we are all bowsiders, and hadn’t rowed together since the last race. We pulled it out of the bag with a second in the heat. Enough to get us to the final, which we dug deep for and won! Thanks Lisa for the great coxing.

WD4+ winners
WD4+ winners

Sunday was shorter with 500m. I think they must intentionally do that with the logic being – it’s wine region so everyone will get drunk, especially with all the encouragement to visit the local winieries dotted between the race commentaries. 500m will feel like 800m, if you manage to actually make it to the start line without feeding the fish. I don’t think we had anyone in that boat?!

As a club we got a pretty good haul of medals. Several people were even clanking away.

Anthea Amos claimed hers as part of a Masters 4+ and Lindsey in a Masters 8+. Michelle made it look clean and graceful in the B heat and B final as she steamed ahead, leaving the competition in her wake in her single, the Bonecrusher.

Again on Sunday Michelle didn’t quite crush bones but she crushed the competition. Cementing her performance on Saturday with wins in the Masters and C single. The C single was a nail biting charge for the finish as the competition made a challenge with 300m to go and they were neck in neck over the finish line.

Michelle Joy WB1X, WC1X and Masters1X winner
Michelle Joy WB1X, WC1X and Masters1X winner

On Sunday the mens 8+ with Laurent, Matt, Allan, Dave, Lou, Leigh, Jon and Dennis, coxed by Christine; Michelle and Karen’s C double; and the fast four (4X) of Lisa, Lindsey, Karen and Michelle were nail biting, nerve wracking, thrilling, tight wins. Literally half a bow ball and an angled finish line between them and their second placed competitors. Congrats on your hard fought wins, they were oarsome to watch!

MD8+ Winners
MD8+ Winners

Jennifer and Christine also added to the Richmond haul in their composite masters 8+

Special mention to Barry for towing the trailer and being available to help get us on and off the water, answer technical questions and fix stuff. And to Tim, Head of rowing for his encouragement and support in keeping us all calm and ensuring we were in the right place for at the right race. Also to our super BRO John Latham for minding the tent site and giving Daphne a belly rub and some attention when she got lonely or distressed about all of the cyclists and people she couldn’t chase.

All in all a great weekend away with beautiful weather, quality people, and excellent racing by everyone. There were lots of different combinations of people in crews, quality subs, and some fun races with the couples doubles and the mixed 8+’s. Bring on the 151st Annual Rutherglen Regatta.

By Sarah Houghton