Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
8 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Timp
This post was updated on .
Please excuse this perhaps even more indulgent post from the 2015 Bembridge Crew!

On a dark night at the end of December 2014 in the “Royal Oak” a modern day plot was formed amongst a group of “50 something’s” from the Langstone Cutters……..

“A friendly club rowing traditional fixed-seat pulling boats in Langstone and Chichester Harbours on England's south coast.”

……….to make an audacious challenge to the mighty Claydon skiff Gladys, crewed by some surprisingly “sprightly 60 pluses” who, in addition to winning trophies too numerous to list here have held historical bragging rights over Bembridge in relation to the British Traditional Rowing Boat Championships otherwise known as the “Great River Race” held annually in September over a 21.6 mile section of the Thames.

The plan was a simple one really… sign up a group of dedicated chaps willing to make extreme sacrifices for the ultimate goal of finishing in front of Gladys!

Sacrifices were indeed made, hips were replaced, rowing machines were dusted down, calendars cleared, wet shoes purchased, diets altered and early morning training undertaken!

The modern era also dictated that apps be utilised to check availability and indeed to capture performance and areas for improvement there really was nowhere to hide.

Training began in earnest in April with timed endurance pieces in the region of 40 - 50 minutes in preparation for the Hamble River Raid and Round Hayling events. The crew utilised Doodle an app to plan outings and progress was recorded on Endomondo a funny piece of kit that in addition to pace notes recorded the crews altitude!!

The aim was simple to find the 16 seconds time difference from 2014 when Bembridge had got so close and - some say - but for an epic misunderstanding (collision) mid race would have passed Gladys on the line

"Some gaps happen some gaps simply don’t, the skill is in avoiding the latter", Colin McP 28th September 2014

Great River Race 2015

Aim

To catch and overhaul Gladys


Thanks to everyone yet again for getting the boats to the start point and indeed securing pole position for a smooth launch………………but then dramatic news there had been a handicap change, suspicious glances were exchanged between crews, were Gladys' people shuffling their feet from side to side and avoiding our gazes (surely not, could they have?). In any event a polite enquiry of the organisers revealed that in fact that following an appeal the Cornish Pilot Gigs were in fact seen by the handicap committee to be at a disadvantage to the Solent Galleys (had Geoff 1/- had been right all along) so in short the Gigs had had their handicap altered by one minute placing Solent Galleys and Bell Boats behind some 50 Cornish Pilot Gigs!

Bembridge had a start number of 275!

A cunning plan was hatched to launch amongst the Gigs and slip unnoticed across the channel for a swift getaway picking off those Gigs that were “faffing” at the start. Paul also sought the assistance of a former Sea Lord in securing the support of the Marines in Tamar Gig “Ajax” and “Acorn” and “Bcorn” Pilot Gigs from HMS Collingwood in running interference for us and clearing a route – sorted –

"Some gaps happen some gaps some simply do not, the skill is in avoiding the latter", Colin McP 28th September 2014

Only 16 seconds to make up on the old gits only 50 extra boats to pass in doing so can we still do it!!!

So off we go on stage one to slip unnoticed across the starting channel using the gaps that happen when

"275 275 you are disrupting the whole race get out of the way……………………………………".

Somewhat sheepishly we paddled on ending up pressed against the start boat in full view of even the most short sighted official, had they noticed IanMac and ColinMcP? Would they let us continue without our own dedicated Marshall???

Safety Boat

Well at 11.34.57 seconds, some three seconds early, after much polite avoidance of others and back paddling we are off in hot pursuit of the Royal Marines in Cornish Pilot Gig (Tamar Gig Club) “Ajax”.  Soon we were able manoeuvre through some friendly Gigs in Cutters colours and take advantage of their water………………….

Our alliance with the Navy was soon to backfire somewhat when we realised that there had been a formal challenge set down and accepted between the Royal Navy and the Dutch Marines, the later numbering some 150 souls in a variety of enormous vessels all armed with an arsenal of orange and blue smoke which were soon detonating all around us… Bembridge pushed on….
 
Trafalgar

At one stage finding ourselves confronted by the sterns of two Dutch 12 oared Senior Whalers (more like Blue Whales in size) racing for position, Paul ordered that an approach similar to Rear Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar be adopted and through the line we went, numerous Dutch blades flashing around our ears, a scary place to be 20 firm  20 firm and 20 and away, we left eventually them behind in a shroud of orange smoke before joining battle with “Relentless” a Whitby Gig, brimming with muscles, youth and determination rowing a boat looking very similar in lines and length to a galley but with a start position of 220!!

We managed to pass but were never truly to break free from this amazing mixed crew.

On and on Bembridge went acknowledging old friend and opponents alike, past the fleets of Pilot Gigs and Celtic Long Boats and then significantly “Yellow” a Thames Jolly Boat, this was indeed good news as Bembridge did not catch up with them until the very end in 2014.

The new blast up to the bridges and then slow ever so slightly when boxed in and ask for room, approach was tried and indeed seemed to be working……………….mostly!

"Some gaps happen, some gaps some simply do not, the skill is in avoiding the latter", Colin McP 28th September 2014

Then it happened, the infamous Thames Cutter “Trinty Tide” hove into view rowing well, all six oarsmen operating in a smooth long stroke coming ever closer she dipped her colours knowing looks were exchanged.  This was going to be hard, and battle was joined…. we all seemed to know that this was a critical period for Bembridge as it was the previous years race with Trinity Tide (where we were overtaken after approx. 2 miles) that undoubtedly brought Bembridge within 16 seconds of Gladys.

20, 30, 20 and more driven on by Ian Macs helpful advice and guidance to both crews, Trinity Tide was to eventually pass by.  This was not to be the end of the contest as Errol commented “they can’t keep this up we can have them, every stroke is closer to the old gits” or words to that effect.

Again the battle was joined and slowly but surely Bembridge was creeping up on them, both crews at it hammer and tongs, side by side oars clashing, no quarter asked for nor given the Whitby Gig Relentless had also joined the fray. Time stood still until after what seemed an eternity Bembridge prevailed, an inch, then a foot, then water, we were clear, now where was Gladys.

Four Calydon’s had been sighted and passed, we had cheered on our juniors and acknowledged friends from Blakeney, Hammersmith and Lower Thames Rowing Clubs and were leaning into the wind “eyeballs out” (a Naval thing apparently) when Errol sighted the old gits in the distance joined in battle with their new nemesis Eezee Oars a Gravesend Claydon Skiff crewed by lively thirty year olds. We changed seats for the final time could it be done…

Bembridge 1

Photo by "Tzang Productions"

We could now see Gladys clearly and were making ground, Bembridge was however also pulling up behind Excalibur the ever impressive Cornish Pilot Gig three abreast with Groot a Grut the Champion Dutch St Ayles Skiff and Shiplake Outloars. We stormed up behind them and politely shared our desire to pass cleanly i.e.  “explained our pressing need to catch and overtake Gladys etc” asked for and were given water, Bembridge slipped through, Trinity Tide and Relentless snapping at our stern…. Four hundred yards later it happened, three cheers rang out for an “immense opponent” and Gladys was behind us………….. The line must be close, cannons on both sides and a flurry of oars, it was all over, Bembridge had finished 15th (well fourteenth actually but Bembridge was docked three seconds for our early start, a small price to pay methinks) Gladys was to cross the line 16 seconds later……

Bembridge 2

Trinity Tide in the background!

"Some gaps happen some gaps simply don’t, the skill is in avoiding the latter", Colin McP 28th September 2014.

All the planning and training over the past year (which had in itself been great fun) had been worth it, Bembridge had found the 16 seconds to catch Gladys and a further 16 seconds to pass.

Bembridge at 15th and Gladys at 17th had achieved their best ever positions in the Great River Race! Boats recovered and beer drunk then back home for the “Langstone Cutters”.

“A friendly club rowing traditional fixed-seat pulling boats in Langstone and Chichester Harbours on England's south coast.”

For those (like me) who can’t get enough of such things there is a short clip of the last five minutes of the race placed by Errol on You Tube under the heading

“GRR2015 Langstone Cutters Bembridge Finish”

Some stats for those who like such stuff

• 2 hours 32 minutes and 13 seconds
• Placed 15th
• 260 craft had been passed.
• Bembridge was only overtaken by only one craft namely the eventual winner!
• Bembridge covered the 21.6 Miles at an average speed of 7.36 MPH
• Reaching at one point 11.79 MPH


It is interesting to note that despite the slower time in 2015 Bembridge’s overall standings improved-

2015.                                        2014                            

Time 2.32.13                             Time 2.24.24
Placed ........................15th.       Placed .....................29th (I thought it was 31st)
Overall fastest time...... 9th.        Overall fastest time....17th
Veterans .....................4th.        Veterans...................10th
Four oared...................12th.      Four oared.................18th

The overall fastest time ranking gets even better when you get rid of  the paddle things and just stick to boats with oars when Bembridge was the 5th fastest rowing boat.

The time is more satisfying still with regards to four oared boats as we are second only to the Celtic Longboat that finished 2nd in the race to the paddle boat.

In short we were (in my view) the fastest four oared veterans crew sadly not a category for which prizes are awarded but we know!

Training schedule

April 24th 5 miles in 51 minutes at an average of 5.95 mph
April 27th 4.96 miles in 49 minutes at an average of 6.05 mph
May 16th 4.77 miles in 49 minutes at an average of 5.76 mph
May 20th 5.05 miles at an average of 4.28 mph
May 23rd Hamble River Raid..........
June 20th 8.73 miles in 1 hour 36 minutes at an average of 5.41 mph
July 5th 13.32 Miles Round Hayling at an average of 5.02 mph
July 25th 9.20 Miles at an average of 5.03 mph
August 9th 9.92 Miles in 1 hour 41 minutes at an average of 5.86 mph
September 6th 8.82 miles in 1hr33 minutes at an average of 5.65
September 12th 21.3 miles at an average of 7.36 mph


Colin, Paul, Ian, Errol, Steve & Tim.
Bembridge 2015
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Shellz
An excellent and entertaining acount. :)

Permission to swipe (and make as if I wrote it myself of course!) bits to include in the Hayling Islander piece again?

Shel x
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Timp
In reply to this post by Timp
Of course you may, see you on the water soon I hope and in the Gym methinks dishing out some more valuable if hard won lessons!!
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Shellz
For sure re gym. Hope you got my email re availability next week.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Rachel
In reply to this post by Timp
A brilliant account as always Tim, anyone would think you had been practising your observation skills :-). Gave me goosebumps and I love Errol's video too, both of you captured the excitement of a Galley in full flow.
Now that you have achieved your goal could the ladies have the carbons next year? ..... just asking
Rachel
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

Shellz
I've not seen Errol's video. Got a link?
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

robina
In reply to this post by Timp
Dear Roger (Tim)

So you cheated by 3 mins AND used carbon oars !

Robina
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Bembridge at the Great River Race 2015 a “Cabin Boys story”

nigel
In reply to this post by Shellz