We were pleased to send three coxless IVs to this year to the Veteran Fours Head. We had Masters A, B, and D. Our Masters A and B were typically stoic after the race. From the legendary Sparra we had this: ‘After the race, feeling better for some beers in us, we think there are lots of opportunities for improvement. But we’ve got a secret plan to turn things around! Great to be racing again.’

Jon Cole (IV MasD): From the summer, John was keen to take advantage of our progressing years to enter a Masters D boat at Vet Fours Head. Slimmed down to a coxless IV for this race after our Issy assisted Upper Thames Autumn Head, we tried to coax the Ann Roberts to sub-2 minute splits in the run-up to the race, but it wasn’t really clicking. Come the day, the conditions were great and after a luxurious trip down to Putney in Giorgio’s dodgem, sorry, Tesla, we made quick work of rigging and focused on multiple toilet breaks [Editor: Racing nerves does the same to me too!] This was my first time on the tideway and the joys of boating from the riverbank as we set-out to marshal to the start of the championship course, rowed in the reverse direction on the ebb tide. It was quite something to be out on the river with all those fours and quads while passing the legendary landmarks from the boat race. We got off to a solid start with Giorgio keeping us on a great line following Felix’s advice. We were expecting the faster master’s E crews to come past, and come past they did, but each mini race to hold off the inevitable pushed our pace when we might have eased off. We navigated Barnes and Hammersmith without incident

and held steady until John called out our marker as Craven Cottage came into view. We then really gave it some welly and finished off the job. In the pub post-race, I’m not sure if it was my naïve enthusiasm or the beer, but John and Ken’s initial disappointment in our time gave way to some solace in us only being six seconds off the Curlew Vet’s boat. With three 5k PBs (and me not far off) in recent weeks, I’m sure there is more to come with this crew.

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