A few of our rowers travelled to East London last weekend to take part in the Spring edition of Lea Regatta, and in this way kicked off the regatta season for the club after a long, cold and dark winter of head racing. The club had taken part in the Autumn edition of Lea Regatta last year and really enjoyed themselves in the short, tree (and canal boat)-lined course, so of course we would make a return to it.
This time, though, we have entered some larger boats, namely coxed fours, and we are grateful to Lea RC for lending us a fine example for our exclusive use for the whole day – our crews really enjoyed the mighty Jumbo Sheppard! Hopefully, as the club trailer project is closer to completion, we will be able to race in our own boats on this year’s Autumn Lea Regatta in September. And this will avoid future eventful drives to Lea under fairly strong breezes, which in this particular instance made it “interesting” for one of our rowers transporting both of our club doubles on top of his car ? (but luckily nothing came of it!).
Spitfire entered the event with four crews in total, two coxed fours and two double sculls. Both coxed four events had very healthy attendance, with quarter-, semi-, and finals to go through.
Kicking off the day with the open (male) band 2 coxed four event, the crew comprising captain Manuel Marques, LTR coordinator Mark Latymer and our very decorated Perry-French twins made their way to the start of the (mostly straight) 600-metre course. Coxed by Abbie Latymer, who until that point only really had race coxing experience from coxed quad-scull boats, the crew pulled away rapidly and held their distance to their opposition, and comfortably qualified for the next event. After also winning their semi-final later in the day, the crew went on to become one of the two Spitfire winning crews of the day, with a solid 4-length win in the final, and this being Mark’s ever first win in a sweep oar event. Well done to all!
The other coxed four event the club entered was the mixed coxed four one. This allowed Manuel and Mark to partner up with club secretary Michèle Thomas and our super weather guru, Sarah Tyler, and, again coxed by Abbie, the crew managed to get to the semi-finals, but a more coordinated crew from Lea proved stronger and denied the final to the crew.
Manuel and vice-captain George also entered the open double-scull event, but a wobbled start meant an early lead to their Gravesend opposition, which they could not claw back in the short 600-metre course, but still only finishing 1 ½ lengths away. The Gravesend crew went on to easily win their final.
The club’s second win of the day went to the Perry-French twins, who stormed down the course in a time of 2 minutes exactly (which was the fastest overall time of the day!) and easily beat their opposition in the J18 boys double-scull event. Well done to them – and especially for such an impressive win, which was achieved in one of our oldest (and most battered) doubles in the club’s fleet, our mid-1990s Burgashell, Jack.
Overall, the club had a fabulous day out in East London, and we can’t thank enough Lea RC for not just organising a lovely and well-ran event, but also for making it easy for us to participate in the event, namely with the boat we were able to borrow from them. We hope to see you all in some of the summer regattas, and we will definitely be back for the Autumn Sprints!