RACING THE SEVERN BORE, HENLEY MASTERS, BRITISH JUNIOR CHAMPS July 18 2014
At this time in the summer, rowers have a stark choice: Go hard or just have fun?
Some manage to combine both, like those taking part in the Red Bull Outrow in Gloucestershire. Seven coxed fours attempted to stay ahead of the Severn Bore – the tidal wave that crashes down the estuary at speeds of up to 17mph (that's a 1:05.7 split). There are some quick video highlights here.
Oxford Brookes – with the crew that made the semi-final of the Prince Albert at Henley a fortnight earlier – reached the end of the 5km course first, around 40 seconds before the bore, while Seeclub Zurich, UCL and UWE also made it through. Crews from Cambridge, Bristol University and Molesey weren’t quite so lucky.
Get yer coat
The Outrow was being run for the first time on the same day that the race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge celebrated its 299th anniversary.
Harry and Dom at the start of the race. Five minutes away! pic.twitter.com/jdKZPdpAzT— Doggett's Race (@DoggettsRace) July 15, 2014
Harry McCarthy of Poplar Blackwall & District RC was first home of the five watermen over the 7.4km course down the Thames between London Bridge and Cadogan Pier, Chelsea. When he got ashore his father Simon - Doggett's winner in 1984 - was among the first to greet him.
The Doggett’s is one of the world’s oldest surviving contests in any sport, established by actor and theatre manager Thomas Doggett in 1715 to celebrate the accession to the throne of King George I. McCarthy will be presented with his famous red coat and badge later in the year.
For those who hadn’t had enough of the Henley reach already, the Henley Masters Regatta was the third of four regattas over the stretch. Suggestions that older rowers just couldn’t manage to get to the Royal in time are completely out of order. There’s a full list of results here.
Our appeal for your Twitter-length reports fell on deaf ears (no comment) but here are a few top tweets from the event.
Last Sunday, they only had to get through 20 races. Today, I've got to get through 143... #HMR14— James L (@JLee_ROW) July 11, 2014
Some tight racing and our men's 2x just missed out in the final at @HenleyMasters by about a 1/4 of a length, here's to 2015!— Twickenham RC (@twrcnews) July 12, 2014
Seventy-six-year-old Mike Spracklen rowed down the Henley reach a week earlier than the rest of the veterans, as part of the “Redgrave Four” he coached in 1984. His old club Marlow have been tweeting pics from their history this week, and Mike cropped up again.
Mike Spracklen - some time in the 1950s pic.twitter.com/yuQOP5nj39— Marlow Rowing Club (@marlow_rowing) July 16, 2014
Unlucky in Lucerne
Those at the top end of the sport have still got the most important bit of the season still to go, and they have strides still to make. Great Britain finished top of the points table at the third World Cup regatta in Lucerne with eight medals but New Zealand won more golds in Olympic-class events - five to GB's four. The Kiwis also finished as top nation in the World Cup series as a whole, although they were one of the few nations to attend the first regatta in Sydney in March.
GB have named a largely unchanged squad for the World Champs in Amsterdam at the end of August, with the biggest headline the omission of Olympic bronze medallist single sculler Alan Campbell, who could only make the C-final in Lucerne, five weeks after the birth of his daughter.
Performance director Sir David Tanner said Campbell was still a candidate for the Rio Olympics but was forthright in saying: “Our view is that there’s something not quite right with Alan. We see him as taking some breath; he’s not ill, we think something that cannot be measured is not right for him.”
Campbell himself told BBC Northern Ireland that he is “devastated” to miss out on an event at which he won a silver medal in 2009. He “pleaded” for inclusion in the squad and is far from certain he will receive funding to take him to national trials next April.
What’s worse that failing to make the A-final in the single? How about failing to reach the finish of the A-final? Pity Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis as you scroll to 3:25 into this race and keep an eye on lane two.
British youngsters step up
British Rowing chief executive Neil Chugani took a pass on a trip to Lucerne and travelled instead to Nantes, where Great Britain’s Under-16 team – the youngest international age-group available to British rowers – beat France 10-3 in their annual match.
The GB Rowing Team are also preparing for the Under-23 World Champs in Varese at the end of the month, and named a 50-strong squad including all four of the Leander quad - Angus Groom, Jack Beaumont, Seb Devereux and Sholto Carnegie - who won the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup at Henley Royal.
There are more youngsters in action at the British Rowing Junior Champs in Nottingham this weekend. A record 684 crews and 1361 competitors will take part. There are just four entries at boys J18 8s and six in the equivalent girls event but the small-boats fields are much stronger. The Junior Rowing blog has a decent preview.
Got time to click on just one more link this week? Make it this interview with Katherine Grainger and Sarah Winckless about their career-long friendship, Sarah’s coming to terms with Huntington's disease and Katherine’s battling with the question of retirement.
"When athletes talk about the friendships they've made, it's really hard for normal people to understand the depths of it,” says Grainger.
“When you're rowing together, you're doing everything together. You see people at their most elated but often you see people at their lowest and it's genuinely blood, sweat and tears. It's not a cliché, it's real.”