2022 World Masters Regatta
Success for SPRC Seniors
The World Rowing Masters Regatta took place in Libourne, France over 5 days in September and Strathclyde Park Rowing Club was well represented as 12 members travelled to the regatta. A Scottish trailer driven by two of the local club members and one from Loch Lomond Rowing club, and carrying boats from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling and Edinburgh made the 1,800mile round trip. Local butcher, Jamie Chapman very generously provided the team with a towing vehicle which made the trip possible.
The advance party was ready to meet the tired towing team when it arrived and it was then all hands on deck to unload the trailer and carry the boats a long way to their designated racks for the week. The weather was very hot and it was thirsty work!
With a full day and a morning to practice before racing commenced, club members made themselves busy with rigging and light training in the blazing hot sunshine.
The events at this regatta cover all boat types and age categories starting from A (for 27 years and over) to M (average age of 89 and over). Over the 5 days of racing there were 662 races and medals were awarded to the winning crew of each race.
First to race was Ailie Ord in an F (ave over 60) 4- (coxless four) joined by friends from Cambridge and London. In an extremely tight race the crew crossed the line less than a boat length behind the winners after having been impeded by the crew in the next lane which steered into theirs.
Next to take to the water was Gillian Connal in A Single sculls. This was a younger age category for Gillian who has spent a lot of time over the last couple of years training in her single on the Forth and Clyde Canal. After a thrilling finish, Gillian came from 3rd place at 250m to go to get her bow ball in front over the line (less than .1 sec) and win the first medal for Scotland.
The Strathclyde Park Ladies Eight took to the water later in the afternoon in the middle of the 3 age categories they were racing (with slightly different line ups in each). For many it was their first time at a World Masters Regatta and their performance improved with each race finishing 4th or 5th out of 8.
Early Thursday morning brought a second medal for Gillian Connal in Womenâ€™s C Eights as she raced with the Masters International Group (talented rowers from all over the world who may not have club mates available brought together to form crews for this event â€“ and may get one practice outing before racing). Also in action early morning was Ailie Ord in Womenâ€™s F singles. The last time Ailie raced in a single at this event was in 1989 when she finished 2nd. No change this time but she was happy with her race and posted the 4th fastest time over all 6 heats.
Ailie was racing again a bit later in a Womenâ€™s E Quad with Liz Davidson, Sarah Kell (Mortlake Alpha and Anglia) and Sue Brown (Cambridge X-Press). Despite a last minute change of line up due to lack of foot adjustment, this crew took an early lead and finished 10 seconds in front of next crew much to their delight. The other club crew containing Mary Oâ€™Toole, Laura Graham, Rachel Tennant and Rowena Suthers (a substitute for Liz McGovern who had to pull out of the trip at the last minute) came 6th in their race.
The next race contested was Womenâ€™s E pairs where Ailie joined up with Sarah Kell from MAA and had a very competitive race finishing 2nd by less than 2 seconds to an established pairing from the RAF. Paula and Rowena also raced in the second heat of this event, also not having had much water time together and finished 5th.
The Friday started with Ailie in the pair again, this time with long established (but much younger) crewmate Gillian in their final year of contesting Womenâ€™s C pairs. Despite not much recent practice in this boat the pair found its rhythm early and took a comfortable lead bringing Gillian her 3rd and Ailie her 2nd medal of the regatta.
Next up was the Womenâ€™s F quad comprising Mary Oâ€™Toole, Rachel Tennant, Rowena Suthers and Stephanie Dancer sitting in for the missing Liz McGovern. Although there were a couple of very quick crews in their race, our ladies had a great ding dong battle on their hands for 4th or 5th and got the better of our friends from Belfast by less than half a second.
Liz Davidson and Ailie took to the water again for the Womenâ€™s E double sculls. There were 10 races in this very popular event and Liz and Ailie, after not their best start, and sitting 4th at halfway, clawed through the field in an exciting finish to place 2nd over the line.
Gillian Connal joined up with her St Andrew Boat Club partner Martha Walsh to contest the Womenâ€™s B Double sculls where they had a very competitive and close race to finish 2nd just over a second behind a crew from Germany.
Paula Hubens bravely contested the very popular Womenâ€™s D Singles and put in a very respectable performance finishing 5th out of 8 in her race.
Saturday morning early birds were out for the Womenâ€™s F Double Sculls and the club had 2 crews competing. Ailie and Stephanie were first up and despite the latter undergoing a major hip operation in January, the crew came in a very close 2nd place just running out of course as they mounted their charge for the line. Rachel and Mary were several heats later and finished 4th beating their Scottish rivals from Glasgow who were 6th in a competitive field.
The double races continued with Ailie and Gillian out next in the Womenâ€™s C age group. The luck of the draw found them racing in the fastest heat of 11 and adding to their 2nd place finishes of the regatta! They recorded the 4th fastest time of the 73 crews which raced. This crew is looking forward to being eligible to race the older category of D next year.
Ailie took to the water a third time on the Saturday with her â€œOccasional Friday Quadâ€ in Womenâ€™s D Quads. The crew comprising Liz D, Stephanie and Laura Graham had been enjoying fun outings for almost a year with various guests and decided to give it a whirl. Racing in a younger category than their years allowed they were the â€œbest of the restâ€ finishing 5th out of 7. This place was also shared by the Womenâ€™s F eight which contained guests from Durham, Clydesdale and Bewl Bridge.
The final race of the Saturday for SPRC had Gillian competing in the Womenâ€™s B Single Sculls and she smashed it winning by a margin of 9 seconds and was the 2nd fastest heat out of 5. Gillian was thanked on the medal pontoon by Gary Bain (FISA Masters Commission) for managing to steer round a capsize in her lane that had not been cleared from the previous race. He said it had saved a lot of paperwork and having to rearrange the race!
The Sunday mixed races saw a few of our members competing in various composite crews. Liz D raced with her French friend Franc in D2x coming 6th out of 8. Ailie joined her long-term friend Hilary Cook, Tom Bishop and Steve Aquilina (both Quintin) to race and win G quads. There was a needle match going on here as Rod Stewart, who had raced with this crew before Steve had formed his own crew and had practiced! They came 3rd! Tom and Ailie went out a little later to race G Doubles and added another win to their so far successful track record together.
Gillian C joined up with Gregor Hall of Stirling Rowing Club in A doubles and posted an incredibly fast time of 3â€™26â€ to be the overall winners of this event and fastest double time of the day.
The final medal tally for the Club was Gillian 5, Ailie 4, Liz D 1 and loads of 2nds!!
As well as the racing there was an enormous amount of camaraderie at the regatta with people reuniting with old friends and making new ones. The atmosphere was great and there were many stands to visit for kit shopping, wine tasting, charcuterie and of course beer! The support from the crowds over the last few hundred metres of racing was amazing from people on the bank enjoying the weather and able to encourage the crews in their dash for the finish line.
All our members enjoyed their experience with happy evenings dining together. Some even managed to explore and visit vineyards! Club spirit was there in abundance to help with the daunting and exhausting task of carrying all the boats and equipment to the trailer park and reloading the trailer ready for the trip home. A dip in the lake afterwards was most refreshing.
Next year the event is in South Africa and a few members are already making plans to attend. There will be no trailer going from Scotland for this one so we will be at the peril of boat hirers!