The weather forecast augured well and was accurate, which was just as well as the final division ran some hour and a quarter later than scheduled, leaving crews sitting around for a long time awaiting the start. It also resulted in boat de-rigging and loading becoming a frantic affair to help the scholars amongst the crews return to Pangbourne in time for their annual dinner, never mind upsetting the evening plans of the supporters and crew coaches.
It is always difficult for events on narrow rivers like the Avon to keep to schedule but things were running reasonably to time until an octuple rammed the bridge before the start of the short course which, somewhat unkindly, provoked such amusement amongst the other crews that I could hear the merriment from some 500 metres away.
There was a good atmosphere on the bank and it was great to have a large proportion of the Boat Club seeing each other in action early in the season and for coaches to have an early opportunity to meet the supporting parents, who I must say were extremely helpful in many respects, not least through loaning me a bicycle when my own had a major puncture some 3km up the course!
Sport isn’t just about the outcome and for some it was their first ever rowing event, but we did enjoy several wins and, encouragingly, they were spread across the age groups and genders.
The boys’ 1st VIII, still at an experimental stage, had solid rows in the first two divisions before showing its true potential in recording the equal fastest time of the day, despite fatigue, in winning J18 eights by over 12 seconds from the Canford 1st VIII with an aggressive row which saw them do much overtaking and involved some tricky moments on the winding course. Unfortunately, the girls’ 1st VIII had to withdraw through illness to several members but hopes to be back to full strength for next weekend’s Women’s Head of the River in London.
There were further wins for the boys’ J16 ‘A’ VIII, the girls’ J15 ‘A’ quad, and the boys’ J15 ‘A’ quad, who also posted the fastest time overall for the short course. Both boys’ and girls’ J14 squads put in some encouraging performances in their first ever Head; the boys’ top quads being placed 2nd and 3rd in a field of 15 crews, with an octuple 4th out of 8 crews, and a girls’ quad 5th out of 13, with a double scull racing well too, the first time that one has been raced by girls at Pangbourne at such an early stage. The boys’ J16 ‘B’ VIII also made its mark with 3rd place out of 8 Novice eights and its cox, Andrew Newsome, deserves particular praise for taking the slower arch of the mid-course bridge to allow the fast closing 1st VIII to pass unimpeded.
Full results can be found here.