Last Saturday, February 27th, some of our rowers participated in another virtual event, but this time, with a twist: unlike previous challenges and races, this one allowed crews to race against each other in real-time, with real race commentary, all from their garages, sheds and lounges. Organised by Runcorn RC, this is their virtual take of their Spring Head, annually raced on the river Weaver by many clubs of the north-west over a distance of 3,500 metres.
Due to its virtual format, Spitfire was not the only club from far away attending the event, with crews from as far as Poole and Southsea joining in for the fun. We entered three events in total, the coxless MasC quad in the first (morning) division, and two pairs, one MasB and another MasC, in the second (afternoon) division.
Real-time racing required some more gear, and crucially… a stable connection to the Internet, meaning network cables were definitely necessary!
In the morning session, after a few hiccups with getting the racing started (just like a real head race!), and a last-minute substitution with a veteran rower from Runcorn, George Perrin, filling in for Lewin, the crew of Manuel Marques, James Knight, George Perrin and Mark Latymer came 2nd in their category, 23 seconds behind Brexbourne who won the event. George’s connection dropped off mid-race, which equated to a crewmember ejection by the system, with the whole crew suffering a time penalty as a consequence of that.
But it was in the afternoon session that the racing became interesting for the Spitfire crews, with the rowers from the morning’s quad split into two pairs, racing in the same event alongside a Lancaster crew (what an amazing coincidence!). The crew of Manuel Marques and James Knight finished first in the time trial, with a total time of 11:46, but as they were racing in the MasB category that meant that they incurred in a 13-second handicap over the MasC crew of Lewin Hynes and Mark Latymer, whose final time of 11:39 guaranteed their victory.
Some pictures (and videos!) of the Spitfire rowers in action during the event below:
Club rower Lewin Hynes contributed with this great video, showing the virtual head underway (in this case, the pairs event with two Spitfire crews).