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Head of the Charles 2023 – a Gold, a Silver and a T-Bone

60s Crew – Grand Master 4 - Gold and Course Record

Clive Roberts (str), Ian McNuff (3), Cox Adrian Ellison (Cox), Harvey Worden (B) Richard Shirley (2)

We slipped on the winners jackets - equivalent of the Green Jacket at the Augusta Masters :) - a job well done. New course record, solid winning distance and starting 17, an error free "shimmy" past 10 crews . The omens were good when crew 16 announced at the start that they would move over for us - this is Grand Master rowing for you.

11,000 competitors overall this year and the boating site is now like a decent sized shopping mall. All planning and logistics went well but the cost to medal ratio is rising. The total crew costs were more than the cost of the first property I bought ! times move on. We saw how technically good our youth rowers are compared to other nations so I suspect "coach poaching" will be on the rise. I repeated the error of previous campaigns of forgetting that the American version of a gin and tonic comes in pint glasses.

50s Crew - Senior Masters 4 - Silver Medal

Colin Scott (s), Toby Backhouse (3), Matt Brittin (2), Chris Leonard (b), Cox Sam Burrows

As the race opened up we were pulling away steadily from the crews behind, feeling the pain grow, yet holding our length and form. Assembled hastily in the summer, this was a positive crew, well forged and progressing each session en route to Boston in the fall. Crossing the line, a moment of satisfaction as lungs and legs burned - surely our best row yet had been enough to retain the trophy for MBC?

No. Fellow Brits Crabtree were 0.4% faster. Two top British crews (six of the eight rowers assorted vintages of light blue) had come over 5,000km to race a thousandth of that distance, setting the bar high around 20s ahead of the field. Whatever your level of experience, you win or you learn. One thing that's very clear is how standards in our sport at all levels are steadily rising. Ever committed, we began to review all possible lessons and plot future campaigns in a nearby Boston bar. Cheers!

40s Crew – Masters 4 – 8th

Cox Jen Wainer, Florian Herbst (b), Tom Middleton (2), David Dix (3), Jon Broadest (s)

Each member of the HoCR Molesey Masters 4+ would have had their own preference for their post-race dinner. For cox Jen Wainer, doubtless a small portion of brain food to keep her excellent coxing wits finely tuned. For talisman Tom Middleton, possibly a perfectly balanced concoction of proteins and carbs to ensure his thoroughbred physiology was optimally ticking over. For the big engines of Jon Broadest and Florian Herbst, make it big and meaty – they had watts to deliver. Lots of watts. For David Dix, something well aged but tasty would be just fine. He’d be smiling regardless.

None of us would have chosen T-Bone.

Fired by the news of MBC Grand Masters 4+ win, we crossed the starting line aggressively trying (and not quite succeeding) to avoid muscling the boat in choppy fast tailing conditions. In the [‘power straight’] we started to find a longer solid stroke at rate 33 and confidence began to grow. With Jon sending down a smooth rhythm, the lower bow numbers began to slip by; 9, then 10…. With 200m to the tricky, technical Weeks Bridge 90 degree turn, MBC overtook 11 (and 8, scrambling to get out of our way!) and began the practiced turn sequence.

Then it turned messy. 11 had taken a gambler’s line into Weeks, but had been dealt a poor hand and had nowhere to go. The right (safe?) choice was to slow and cede the racing line to MBC. Sadly not. As we slowed to navigate the turn, 11 trailing on the the kept going. Full gas.

Who ordered the T-Bone?

A few seconds of chaos later, 11’s bow was punctured and hooked on our 2 rigger. Videos show the expletive laden minute and a half it took to decouple the boats and start racing again. But for what?

We crossed the line 8th, 1 minute 39 seconds down. Counterfactuals are a mug’s game in sport, but videos of the crash show us stationary for about that long. Ahhhh, what might have been.

But for the unfinished business, the experience was brilliant. How great to be part of a focused, fun group and share the trip with the other most excellent MBC crews and friends. If you haven’t already done the HoCR, make it happen! Incredibly, there remain parts of the HoCR programme that still need to be painted Black!

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