On Sunday November 13th, 28 members of Monmouth RowingClub (MRC) travelled to Stourport to compete in the small boats head, a race over 4km. On a lovely warm and sunny day, conditions were almost perfect for the first head race of the season for the club.
In Division 1 the Open 4+ of Evan Whittall-Williams, Tom Cookman, Sam Bainbridge, Sam Morgan and cox Ben Jennery, all racing their first ever head race for MRC, went off first in the division and completed the course in a time of 12.13, which won the category and was the fastest time of the morning division.
The OpF4- of Colin Lewis, Nick Hooton, Jonathan Ferris & James Allison were using the event as a training race for Vets 4’s head and won, beating 2 younger crews. In the WMasD/E/F4-, another MRC crew training for Vets head (Louise Allison, Melanie Brown – first race for MRC -, Kate Hooton & Liz Lewis) won in a time of 13.56. The younger WMasE4- crew of Dawn Brace, Bonita Birkett, Gail Adams & Sue Smith were racing as an unpractised crew and finished 3rd, a good result for the crew with Bonita in her first race with the Performance squad and Sue bravely taking on her first race as steersperson for a 4-, not an easy task! Rachel Westerlund and Julia Cowton raced their first race in a 2x in the WMasD2x finishing 3rd. In the OpE2x Toby Harding and Scott Hazledine raced solidly with Scott steering a great line throughout & finished 2nd. Coach Tim Male took to the water in Op1x and despite racing the last 1km without a fin, managed to secure the win in a time of 13.09!
With only a short break between divisions, there was little rest and a lot of action by both squads to ensure all boats were rigged and ready for boating for 2nd division! The first MRC crew off the start was the Op4- of Oli Partridge – first race since 2019 – Whittall-Williams, Cookman & Al Butler; they were narrowly beaten by a crew from Worcester RC. Lewis, Hooton, Ferris & Allison teamed up with cox Jennery for division 2 to compete in the OpF4+ & finished as runners-up. Hazledine raced his first head race in MasE1x finishing 3rd. In the women’s races, the WMasD4x- of Westerlund, Liz Newman, Helen Tilley & Cowton, training for Vets 4’s head, were in a category of 5 crews, including the slightly older MRC WMasE4x- of Mary Miller, Allison, Birkett & Brown. In a tight race, following time adjustments for age, the E crew finished 3rd & the D crew 5th. Brace & Smith had their first head race together in WMasD2- and finished 2nd behind an experienced crew from Worcester. Theresa McCarthy, WMasG1x, racing against younger opposition finished 3rd. The WMasG4+ of Hooton, Amanda Snelson, Adams & Lewis coxed by Keris McShane in her first race for MRC had a good race but were racing time only as there was no opposition.
It was great to see the ‘now expected’ fantastic club spirit both on and off the water; lots of cheering in marshalling area for club crews coming to the start; encouragement from the bank to lift spirits of racers with 1km to go; and all the help with rigging/derigging of boats & loading/unloading of trailer. Thanks to James & Louise for towing the trailer again.
Our thanks to Stourport for putting on a very well organised event, appreciated being able to race on such a lovely stretch of the River Severn.