IT IS said that competing is more about what you learn than where you finish and Stratford Boat Club’s masters squad of Christine Goodwin, Tim Lunel and Chris Straw certainly felt so after rowing at the Soar Head in Loughborough on Saturday.
Loughborough have a saying – ‘You race the straights and you steer the bends’ – and Stratford’s masters learned there is good reason for this as the green weed at the side of the bends may look friendly but, however many time the steersman says “let’s go”, it does not let go of your blade until you hack your way back out into clear water!
The hare and the tortoise also applies to rowing – when you overtake two other scullers and then if you then row so far into the reeds that you have to back out of the reeds, then the tortoises just effortlessly pass by!
The final lesson that Stratford’s masters took on board was to have a steersman who knows the course and then you can stay rowing on the water rather than examining the wildlife.
Lunel said: “All said, it was a really enjoyable day made by better by the fact this is a head race run by rowers for rowers, with none of the endless waiting about at the start.
“There were marshals with a sense of humour who don’t feel any need to shout and there was free tea and coffee for everyone. We’ll be back next year now we know the course.”
Later in the day, Straw and Lunel put in a very creditable performance in the double to finish second out of three crews in the Masters E category and third out of seven crews in the overall combined D/E categories.
On the straights, Goodwin and Lunel did a great job of matching the boat speed of the very competitive Derwent mixed double who Stratford competitors know all too well.
They did find that bouncing from bank to bank around the tight bends seemed to reduce the boat speed – a lesson learned earlier – and so came second best on this occasion.
However, being only 20 seconds behind having watched the Derwent crew steer a perfect course, means they are looking forward to their next encounter on a straighter course!
Goodwin had an excellent first two thirds of her race, overtaking two other scullers, and is looking forward to returning to the Soar Head next year to complete unfinished business.