Head Of The Charles 2017 - Trumped In Boston

The 14.50pm Norwegian flight from Gatwick to Boston must have looked like a Molesey had chartered the whole plane as our three eights and one four bundled on, shoving the black pots of paint and brushes into the overhead bins, ready to paint Boston black again.

Unfortunately it was “America First” as we all returned daubed in stars and stripes plus a smattering green and gold. 3 second places and 1 third place was not the plan, but we were outpaced in the racing and can have no complaints as some of our opposition turned up with bigger and better guns….well we’ve got a few excuses but unfortunately all of them point to the rowers in our boats !

Going over the pond to win all four events was a bit of challenge but it’s no fun doing things by half. We certainly came away with the Victor Ludorum for masters rowing. They don’t have one at the HoC but they should because then we’d have at least brought that back….and by a country mile.

First up were the 50s and 60s eights. The 50s started number 1 in the division and were fortunate to be fielding almost the same 8 that took the course record last year, and thumped all comers. Last year’s runners up, Marin, from the US, had clearly done what all good crews do and upped their game. Fitter and stronger than last year they squeezed out a win by 2 seconds and took the title with our 50s boat having a perfectly decent if not stunning row. At least we retained the course record in what proved to be good conditions.

The 60s eight were in the same division and starting down at number 33 as a new entry. This was a new Leg-ends venture for this year, dragging a few good rowers off their sofas and back into training. Plenty of nice personal stories of weight loss and getting to the start line with various medical ailments - We even got Kingston Rowing Club stalwarts to race in black! A perfectly decent row, passing a few crews with no mishaps, and a small margin over last year’s US winners from Atagger, was not enough. A neat Melbourne crew handed us a race lesson, and took the title by some 18 seconds and the course record by 8.

Next up were the 40s. The less practised four were not expected to be right up there given their lack of outings but they looked long and strong coming down the course. They lost out by some margin to a racy looking US crew from Sammamish, and by a knat’s nadger to a Dutch outfit from Zwolsche.

Finally our 40s 8 came down the course, also starting number 1. There’s been something of an arms race in this event and this year was no exception. In the recent past three crews (Molesey - GB, Shannon – US, and Kennebacsis – Canada) have traded blows to see who comes out top dog. Shannon is an Irish club and you may wonder why a crew of Americans row for them. It’s rumoured some of them when asked are not exactly sure where Shannon is , thinking that they were rowing for Shenandoah in memory of that great western series set in Virginia. We do know one of the crew competed at this year’s world rowing championships, stopped off to wash his kit and then came to race in Boston for Shannon. Apparently his 2nd cousin’s dog once flew over Shannon so established a clear link for membership.

We got superb support from Resolute and Hudson with boats and Concept for blades. The race organisation was again excellent as was the evening entertainment throughout our trip. The locals at Jacob Wirt drinking den were probably were ruing the day you could get lyrics on line for all songs as the entertainer tried to compete with the tender tones of the Molesey choir on Saturday evening. So it’s back to the drawing board for 2018 and from that great book of sports excuses 2017 was always going to be a transition year ….

Ian McNuff

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