Thanks to Geoff and his towing expertise we gathered at Exeter Quays, after a light shower, to unload the boats. If you have not been to a regatta then Exeter is a great way to start because there is parking, pubs, food, cafes and easy viewing of the race course. This is 400-500m in length but feels like 600m!

With nervous anticipation, particularly as it was the very first race of the day, the Taunton men’s coxed quad of Swanny, Achraf, Si Ridge, Chris K and Cap’n Wingers coxing, were up against Teign Scullers and Paignton. As the older crew we were given a 3 second head start. After a false start (not our fault, but we were terrible) we were called back. On the second attempt the guys were ready and we set off brilliantly and at half way were still a length ahead of the younger experienced crews. At 100 yards from the finish (that’s like 100m but in old money), Si caught a crab (or should we now say “released a lobster” in order to not offend crabs) and he lost his left blade. Teign Scullers started to catch us, I screamed blue murder at the lads, 10 more strokes and some expletives, we kept moving, one blade parallel to the boat, while the other crews (probably thinking they would easily win) went completely to pieces, with us crossing the finish line by a good half length. The commentator announced that he had never seen a crew win with only 3 men rowing before! This was Ach and Si’s first sprint race and first sprint medal, well won, while as cox, I received a medal for just sitting there and shouting a lot!

Next up was Geoff in a single trying to chase down an ancient Exeter chap who was given many seconds head start. It was a great effort and actually pretty tidy sculling for a sweeper.

Arsenij had his first sprint race and was up against some very experienced J16s, great effort and invaluable experience.

The men’s four were off after lunch so I suggested some pre-race fluid therapy and met with very little resistance. I can recommend the Swamp Monster!

The four finally lined up with Greenbank Falmouth, our regular nemesis, and put in a very sprirted effort, just losing their rhythm about three quarters the way down the course and were caught before the finish line, but a great effort. (Coaching note: 2 pints next time?

We staggered out onto the quayside, after the post race fluid therapy, to witness our two Taunton men’s double sculls in a side by race. Swanny and Geoff in the spirit of good sportsmanship had waived their handicap to make it a head to head with the fastest Taunton crew going in to the final round. Si and Ach won, just pipping the Chuckle Brothers by half a canvass. They had a solid row against an experienced crew but no second medal.

Finally, Charlotte in her first sprint race put in a solid performance with good quality sculling and like Arsenij gaining valuable experience.

Nearly eight hours later, approximately, I might have exaggerated a bit, well ages later anyway, Chris and I collected the medals for the chaps, and Gill got hers for her Exeter mixed quad.

A grand day out!                                                                                            

Cap’n Wingers