17 Sep 2015

Success for Norwich (team GB) in Hazewinkel at World Rowing Masters 2015

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When searching for headlines for this story many things came to mind: “Geriatric Hat-trick of Wins” or “100 years after the Battle of the Somme, Norwich’s Veteran Squad Return to Belgium to Settle Old Scores” or “Golden Oldies Triumph in Hazewinkel” – the list goes on. However the facts, as opposed to my juvenile “joshing”, are that Norwich Rowing Club took a large cohort of members to Belgium and are returning triumphantly to East Anglia ready for a winter of hard training in preparation for next year’s event in Copenhagen.

From Thursday September 8th last week until Sunday September 13th, Norwich’s senior squad took part in the World Masters event in Hazewinkel, Belgium. Crews from all over the world made up over 11,000 seats across multiple events with some competitors racing up to fifteen times. Norwich’s squad included: Vigi, Nigel Kippin, Robert Conway, Harry Scott, Clive Bound, David Wynne, Guy Gibson, Karen Gibson, Tim Davies, Anita Davies, Jeni Barnacle, Carole Thomas, Eve Cronin, John Friend, Robert Weston, Max Heron and Jo McGrath.

Major successes in the event came from Vigi ‘The Victorious’ Audinis, in C1x and C2x, the latter with his Lithuanian friend Stasz. Vigi was involved with all the other wins, which comprised the D and E 4x crews comprising him, Nigel, Harry Scot and Robert C. Vigi and Harry went on to further success in the E 2x.

Victorious Vigi

Victorious Vigi

Tim Davies, competing in A and B 1x, B 2x and mixed B2x, takes up the account from his perspective:

I was originally planning on going to Hazewinkel  as bag carrier and beer tester for Anita and the rest of the W4x. However, having been talked into competing by a friend from Cambridge, an intensive coaching and training plan was set up by James Mckelvey with the aim of not being last in at least one 1x race.

 Guy Gibson and I hatched a plan to do the B.2x race on Thursday afternoon as a taster race – expectations were minimal – the aim was to gain experience before the races we hoped to be more competitive in. A stiff cross head wind meant a long hard slog up the lake after the novelty of being “Great Britain” in the roll call.

Triumphant Tim

Triumphant Tim

 Friday morning at 8:30 was A.1x – however the regatta format is all straight finals and they attempt to band these by age and separate countries – so I was racing Master B aged rowers rather than too many under 30s – not that quality of the competitors was in doubt as several were former internationals … The race was a valuable learning experience – I settled much too soon after the start and was left hanging out the back feeling sorry for myself in lane 3. Lane 1 was a length clear at 800m and I was resigned to coming last when I figured out that Lane 4 was only 1 length up – a frantic last 200m brought me to within 0.05 of second of him. Close – but much more to do in the next race.

 Saturday morning at 9:30 was B.1x and the later time had allowed a cheeky head cross wind to build – I went off the start at 40 spm and hung on for grim death. In lane 8 I could easily see at 150m that we were all still line abreast, at 250m I felt I was middle of the pack, 500m and two boats had fallen back! The next 350m was a blur until I could hear the shouts of “Come on Norwich!” from the bank – a quick look round showed the nearest boat was a length or so up and there were 3 behind! Target reached – 4th overall – 6 seconds slower than first.

 And then the big race on Sunday lunchtime – Mixed B.2x with Anita – the make or break race (Tim’s words). We had a good start, not getting caught out by the Fast start procedure, or the fact I dropped a blade on the 5th stroke. At half way we were narrowly 4th – finishing comfortably 4th some distance from 3rd another race with a hard head/cross wind. The fact there are wind turbines at the end of the lake should have been a hint …

Rob Weston, competing in a range of categories with Max Heron, Robert Weston, Jo Magrath, John Friend and Cox Eve Cronin over D4+, D4-, E4+ and E4-, gives his account:

Well it’s 9am on Thursday 10th September. It’s sunny and we’ve arrived at Hazewinkel in Belgium. The car park is virtually full already and first impression is ‘Look at all those Empachers’ and ‘isn’t everyone tall.’ We find the trailer park and wade through huge German, Russian and Dutch trailers full up with equipment that makes us Brits so envious. Our trailer looks so small in comparison with its assortment of Blue, Red and White boats on. But I’ve been told ‘size isn’t everything’ so we’ll be ok.

 We plan to rig up and have a practice on the course which like Nottingham, seems a little bouncy today. We eventually get on the course, practice and get ready for our first race in a few hours’ time. The trailer park is a fair distance away so we see if our four can be placed on one of the hundreds of racks there. Bad news – it’s like a Spanish swimming Pool. The Germans have taken all the racks and the empty ones need rowers that are 7’6” tall. So it’s back to the trailer and boat onto trestles.

 First race for us is the 55 and over coxed fours. The races have six to eight crews seeded on average age, so the 55’s race in Heat one then 56’s and so on. We were in Heat 4. We’re all over six foot tall but the crews from Germany and Russia boated men taller than our three man. Some ex world champions as well so this should be fun! Got used to the light system at the start and we’re off. 44 strokes a minute then 38 and stride out to 36. Everyone’s gone except another British crew (Ardingly) who are a length down. We stick to our plan of pushes every half minute but although we come back to the other crews, it’s too late and we come in 6th out of 7. We were all very down after so much training, but at the end of the regatta, our time was 13th fastest out of 30 so no medals, but in the top half. Our time would place us third in other heats but that’s the luck of the draw.

 Over the next couple of days we raced in both the 50+ and 55+ Coxless and Coxed fours. Our times improved every race as we got used to the multi-lane racing. Realistically, we were outclassed by some of the crews and It was evident that most of the winning crews were composites rather than from one club. Personally I think crews should race as one club but others disagree. The argument goes on.

The standard is very high. The winning time in coxless fours was 3:18 and the coxed in 3:24 and that into a head wind. Would we do it again? You bet we would. Fantastic club spirit.

Winning D and E Quad

Winning D and E Quad

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One Response to Success for Norwich (team GB) in Hazewinkel at World Rowing Masters 2015
  1. Absolutely fantastic write up – thank you authors! And some great life long memories. Of course I would have gone, but I didn’t want usurp Vigi. Nick


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