QUBBC v Goldie: "Tussle on the Thames"
Rowing report by Keith Wilson
Managed to get myself in a launch to watch the Tussle on the
Thames this afternoon.
Sir Matt Pinsent was the umpire. I should begin by painting a little picture that made me smile at the end of the day. Mark F-H (who used to row with SMP) was with me when I arrived at the boat house, where SMP was chatting to an old codger (Donald Leggett – the man after whom our Empacher is named…). DL gives MFH a little bit of stick about how he is adorned from head to toe in “QUBBC Kit”. I can’t help but suggest that it’s a fine brand which prompts SMP to conclude “well, let’s judge that in the next hr or so [once the racing had been completed]”…as I said, I was smiling at the end of the day.
MFH introduces me to Nathan Adams (Lead Coach at Rowing Ireland – and a thoroughly decent chap). NA will be driving my launch. He kits me out with a life jacket and rate meter and we are off.
QUBBC launch and after a little 4s paddling stop beside us to commence their warm-up drill. They all float to front stops and drop in for the catch and freeze – perfect unison and steady as a rock. They then begin a drill that sees them sit at frontstops and simply slot catches - 10-15 of those - then they start square-blade ¼ slide paddling – rock solid and together – and they gradually build up to full slide – all square blade – almost brought a tear to my eye. That told me the boys were up for rattling the cage of certain pale blue rivals…
Time for piece 1 (of 3 planned pieces, or so I was expected…). The crews line up for a standing start with SMP orchestrating, customary flag in hand. Attention – Go and our boys duly did as they were told. Out of the blocks faster than Meenso heading for Mrs Miggins after an early morning outing…they surged past Goldie so swiftly that the “2 Man push” got called before the “settle” call was made following the start – think 1 length in 45ish seconds. On they squeezed – longer and harder than Goldie – clear water – lots of clear water – Goldie pull into their wake and QUBBC keep the pedal to the metal and finish c.3 lengths ahead…1 – Zip to the Paddies and the Golden ones look the same colour as their one pieces. SMP doesn’t look towards me but I know he knows I’m smiling…”fine brand” indeed…
Time for piece 2. We’re on the outside of the Hammersmith bend and will be for the whole piece. This one is tighter. We get out to ½ a length but 2nd half of piece sees Golidie claw it back and it is pretty steady at just over a canvas til the end. 2 – Zip and job done. Or nearly done (I think). Our 4-man sticks his hand in the air. Broken footplate. Nothing to be done. We turn round and head for home…but not before MFH and SMP discuss how the 2nd Queens boat might be around for a thrash at the 3rd piece…but they’d got themselves lost and were nowhere to be seen…I’m thinking “unfortunate” as I’d have liked to have seen them see give the Goldie chaps (admittedly slightly empty Goldie chaps) a run for their money.
All in all, a few hours out of the office well spent. That Queens crew is pretty darn slick and the rumours I’d heard about hard training translating into boat speed are well founded.
The little dynamo they have in the stroke seat (Coleraine Inst lightweight youngster – that sound familiar…) is a gem. And he has 7 hard men behind him who know how to follow a lead. And I hear there are 3 or 4 others that are snapping at their heels for a piece of the action.
I wish I was able to be in Henley for the Fri/Sat/Sun cos I think there will be something special to be witnessed.
That’s me motivated for the next 6 months…