Molesey Win 4 Golds in Ghent
The weekend of May 5th saw the ISPS sponsored MBC Senior Men travel to Ghent in Belgium to take on some of the better clubs in Europe as well as Oxford Brookes and London Rowing Club who were also there in strong numbers. The trip made a nice change from the usual procession of Dorney Regatta's and the closeness of the racing, albeit between British crews, made the trip very worthwhile. The fact we came away with wins both days in the Men's 8's and Men's 4-'s as well as bronze in the 4- was the icing on the cake!
This was a busy day with everyone doubling up. The '2nd VIII squad' racing in coxless pairs, a coxed four and an eight. With boats being fairly scratch we failed to make the final in all events but lessons were learned about getting out hard and being more aggressive which would be applied well on the Sunday. The '1st VIII' squad raced in two coxless fours, where we qualified for the final without too much bother, and likewise when they came together to form an eight. The final of the coxless fours was where the athletes were asked to put all their energies and it was certainly needed- Brookes led out but our 'A' four didn't let them get far ahead and we had drawn level by 750. The bows were more or less level through the next 500m of racing but then it was Molesey that began to show ahead and with a well time pushed at 1500m we pushed out to half a length and were still moving away at the finish for a super win over a very good Brookes crew. The 'B' stepped up their game and rowed through the Dutch crew to win a bronze and were almost overlapping Brookes on the line.
Some very tired legs too to the water for the final of the eights and that is always dangerous against fresh, and very fast, schoolboys. Abingdon School seized their opportunity to race us hard and it wasn't until well into the 3rd 500m that we managed to get our bowball in front and start moving out. The verdict was about 1/3 of a length and while not the margin one might hope for over schoolboys, it was a win, in a close race, on the 4th race of the day and the crew felt pleased with what they had done and how they dealt with the pressure.
Sunday was a chance to tweak crews and look at more focused line ups for potential racing further down the line. The coxed four saw one change in personel but a much more aggressive attitude to the first 500m of the race. This saw them win their heat in good style and qualify for the final where they were in a close 4th til half way before the field upped its pace and the 3 medal winning crews moved away. However the four were pleased with their efforts and what they had learned.
Sean Corrigal made the final of the Mens Senior A 1x without much bother and in the final went out to stick with the pace as long as he could. He did this superbly and was in the pack until half way before he could no longer sustain the pace in what was a very tightly fought field. A great effort though.
In the coxless fours, Fred Gill rowing in Brookes lycra for the day (entries reasons!) with his 3 crew mates from last years Europeans 4-, showed their class and speed in winning over the Dutch crew from Laga Delft. Our 'B' four from the day before with one change, had a scrappy row to make the final but with a gearing change and a more focus on rhythm rather than just racing, stepped to win a bronze medal in a photo finish over London Rowing Clubs Visitors 4 (last years Wyfold winners). Given London had beaten us on time in the heat by a few seconds this was particularly pleasing.
The Eight, which was a combination of our 1st and 2nd VIII's from the Head raced Brookes (also a combination of 1st and 2nd 8's from the Head) in the heat. We led to 750m but were slightly unsure what to do with it and let Brookes go through to win by a length. With a more focused race plan for the final we again led out, Brookes responded with a push at 500m to give them a few seats but we reversed this by 750m. Brookes brought it back to level again by the 1000m but as in the fours our efficiency began to show and our next push took us again to a few seats in front and then we began to stretch out and won by a length, reversing our length defeat in the heat.
All round, a great weekend racing with us coming out ahead in a lot of very close races against very good opposition. The Senior Men will next be in action at Met Regatta with possible some being seen at Twickenham.