Wye rowers pull off Henley Masterstroke

Friday 15th July 2022 11:00 am

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WYE rowers headed to the Thames for the 28th Henley Masters Regatta and came back with two titles, reports COLIN LEWIS.

The Friday to Saturday event saw 1,200 veteran competitors from 145 clubs launch out, representing 11 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, the USA, France, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, as well as the UK.

Monmouth Rowing Club was able to send six crews, but one crew sadly had to withdraw days before the event when one of the crew members tested positive for Covid.

Taking place on the Thames and using 1000m of the timber-boomed dead-straight Royal Regatta course, the race start was at the iconic Temple Island.

The first crew up was the men’s E8 (average age over 55), comprising Andrew Barnett, Nick Hooton, Tim Male, Simon Lee, Lenny Colling, James Allison, Colin Lewis, Peter Kelsall and cox Hannah Llewellyn-Davies.

Starting on the Buckinghamshire side, the crew took on the French crew from Club Nautique d’Annecy.

A fast start saw the French take an early lead which they worked hard to preserve, before a big push from the MRC crew brought the Wye boat right back into it.

It was so close going into the last 10 strokes, it could have gone either way, but the French held on by just six feet, with the winning time of 3mins 14 secs the fastest of the three heats.

In the semi-final the French club beat Peterborough, but then lost to a very big USA crew (Marin Rowing Association) by 3/4 of a length.

The first of the women’s crew was up next, the F4+ (over-60) of Louise Allison, Liz Newman, Mary Miller, Liz Lewis and cox Taryn Birkett.

Starting on the Berkshire station, the crew quickly established a lead over Star/Bedford, powering to a lead at the finish of 2L and a winning time of 4mins 16sec.

They then had a tighter semi-final in the afternoon, but came out on top, beating Milton Keynes by 1/2L in a time of 4.22.

In Saturday’s final, starting on the Berkshire station the crew executed their race plan despite being put under pressure early on by opponents Marlow RC, and raced to victory by 5L in a time of 4mins 33secs.

The women’s D4+ (over 50) of Sara Part, Dawn Brace, Sue Smith, Julia Cowton and cox Darcy Birkett took on a well-drilled Auriol Kensington crew in their opening heat.

But despite their best efforts, their London opponents were able to secure a win by 4.5L in a time of 4.17.

Another women’s crew launched out on the Saturday, a relatively inexperienced C four (over 42) which took on a very strong looking Nottingham Rowing Club.

The crew of Sara Part, Anna Williams, Sue Smith, Julia Cowton and cox Darcy Birkett, trailed off the start, but maintained their composure and put in a push before one of the Nottingham crew stopped, allowing the Wye boat to come home first in 4.26.

In their final, they came up against a technically very good Auriol Kensington, by raced hard losing by a respectable 3L in a very fast time of 4.09.

Following on from their success in the F4+, the women’s F2- pair of Louise Allison and Liz Lewis were looking to repeat the success they had at British Masters as they once again took on the pair from Weybridge RC in their last race of the weekend.

A very strong start from Weybridge saw them establish a lead that the MRC crew could not recover, as the Thames outfit got their revenge by 5L in a time of 4.17.

The men’s D coxless four of Tim Male, Simon Lee, Lenny Colling and James Allison started day two with a 1.5L win in their semi-final over the fancied York City RC four, in a time of 3.28.

Their final saw the crew take on Bewl Bridge RC, who are based on a lake near Tunbridge Wells, and a great race ensued.

But the power and fitness of the MRC crew allowed them to take the win by 2L and the medals in a time of 3.23.

Racers at the club are now looking closer to home to race in local regattas, before a large contingent head over to France to take part in the World Masters Regatta in September.

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