Masters undaunted despite dramatic deluges

Racing on the first day of the 2024 British Rowing Masters Championships remained hot amidst wet conditions in Nottingham


Photo: AllMarkOne.

Meteorologically, the day couldn’t have been more varied at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont Country Park. Bookended by blue skies, there were also several torrential downpours. And the saying ‘lightning never strikes twice’ was proved wrong when thunderstorms force racing to be suspended on two occasions. The Organising Committee acted quickly to issue revised timetables, and medals for some Division 3 events were awarded based on times from the Eliminators in order that racing could be completed by 7pm, just 20 minutes later than originally scheduled. The final Intermediate races had to be rescheduled until the Sunday morning, with refunds for those who can’t make that.

The list of winning clubs was similarly diverse. From Hexham RC in the North (who won gold in Women’s MasB Doubles and in a composite Women’s Intermediate 35+ Eight), to Greenbank Falmouth RC in the South and West (Lee Clarke won Open Lightweight MasB-D singles), and Norwich RC in the East (Open MasF Doubles and Quads), clubs from across England can be very proud of their gold medallists.

Representing Wales, Monmouth RC, which won last year’s Victor Ludorum here at the British Rowing Masters Championships, took the Mixed F Quads today. Meanwhile Llandaff RC’s Nicky Smith, who won Women’s Masters Novice at the Scullers Head last September, stepped up to Championships status, taking the Women’s Mas B/C singles here. Scotland was in the mix too as Martin Holmes and Rachel Robertson of Castle Semple RC won the Mixed MasE Doubles. Completing home countries representation, Lockwood and Corcoran racing as Lagan Scullers Club/Lee Valley RC, Cork, won the Open MasI Doubles.

Of the 125 clubs competing across the weekend in this great festival of master rowing, other winners today included Bedford, Bewdley, Bewl Bridge, Bradford on Avon, Burton Leander, City of Cambridge, Dart Totnes, Debem, Durham, Eton Excelsior, Henley, Kingston, Lea, Leicester, London, Marlow, Medway Towns, Milton Keynes, Molesey, Newark, Peterborough, Poplar Blackwall & District, Putney Town, Quintin, Rob Roy, Sons of the Thames, Star Club, Tideway Scullers, Upper Thames, Walton and Wimbleball.

Two women with medals Anne Grainger and Janet Mehers, winners of Women’s MasG Doubles.

Masters competitors invariably have a huge range of experience too, though fomer international stars are not always easy to spot. The Women’s MasG scullers who lined up against Wallingford RC’s Anne Grainger in Singles and Doubles (where she raced with clubmate Janet Mehers), may not have realised that they were racing the 1984 and 1988 US double Olympic silver medallist Anne Marden*. After her Doubles win she said, “We felt like we were up against extremely competent, respected competition, as well as a very nasty crosswind. We put our heads together and figured it out and rowed like crazy.”

Returning to racing is a theme for many competitors here, and often after overcoming adversity. Theresa Kwiecinska from Lea RC, who secured the silver medal in Women’s MasB/C Singles before winning gold in the MasD Doubles event with Lebby Eyres, said, “I’ll try not to cry! – we won gold, and I won silver in the single sculls, while Lebby got bronze. Three years ago today I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I had surgery four months after my therapy, and thanks to this crazy woman I’m here.”

At the top of the age groups, Mary Bromilow of Upper Thames RC won the first Women’s MasJ Single sculls event at a British Rowing Masters Championships.

MIxed Mas G quad racing The winners of Mixed MasG 4x were given permission to raced in Nottingham RC kit in memory of Tony Lorrimer. Photo: AllMarkOne.

And finally, the winners of Mixed G 4x, Gill Prescott of Nottingham RC, Birgith Sims and Farrell Mossop of Kingston RC, and Chris Waumsley of Nottingham and Union RC, paid a most fitting tribute to their friend Tony Lorrimer, who died suddenly last Sunday, and was to have raced in the crew. Gill said: “It felt like a really nice row, a strong row. We felt like he was with us, but we missed him.”

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*This article originally included incorrect information about Anne Grainger when first published. Anne and Bruce Grainger were married in 1997. British Rowing apologises unreservedly to the Grainger family.

British Rowing Junior and Senior Club Championships