KCLBC has a good tradition of coming to Kingston Small Boats Head (KSBH), doing well and enjoying the racing. This part of river is much different from the Thames we know and love; smooth water and a current that does not batter crews to pieces. If I were to assign a colour to our part of the Thames it would be grey; the water, cloud and bankside ‘beaches’ are grey. Kingston river is different, a clear greenish-black, and on this Saturday, it looked even more welcoming, with one of the hottest October days on record, and undisturbed sunshine throughout. The Kings mens squad had entered three coxed fours in four races: The first IV (Cameron Bullock, Simon Deacon, Tom Baxter and Oliver Iles, coxed by Euge Guerrero) in the IM2 category, the third four (Igor Musienko, Ciaran Cassidy, James Bridgman, and Jonathan Schulz, coxed by Euge Guerrero) in the IM3 category and with the second four (Samuel Nicholls, Daniel Baryshnikov, John Campbell and Matthew Evans, coxed by Jasper Couper), racing IM3 and novice categories. While the river was a pleasure to row on; I would say the second four drew the short straw. The course had been lengthened by 750 metres from previous years to 5.2km, and each race would be a hard slog against other crews hungry for silverware.
Racing just in the afternoon and having watched the morning races, the first IV were looking for a win here against some good crews. The paddle up to the line was marred by a rigging error, however going over the start line the crew were fully committed and with some excellent lines being steered by cox Euge Guerrero, and a crew working themselves ragged, they overtook three crews ahead of them. Using those crews as stepping stones to drive away, they won the category by over a minute, and claimed the pennant.
Taking part in two races on the day, the crew were determined to win the novice and place highly in the IM3 categories. The crew worked hard and were able to find their rhythm in the first race; placing a respectable 7th out of 14.
Their second test came in the afternoon; fatigued but now familiar with the course, the crew set out to claim the novice pennant. After the race was done, the crew were split on their performance, whether they had gained on the crew in front. When the results were published, much to their heartbreak, they had placed second in the category by a narrow margin. Despite this, the crew took a positive experience from the day and has their eyes set on targets further afield.
The third four had a chaotic race, overtaking and being overtaken, with boats crashing and crabbing around them, and in the face of a very strong field placed 13th out of 14. The crew nevertheless enjoyed their day racing and will carry this experience over to the many races to come.
All in all, a successful first day of racing for the mens squad, hopefully to be followed by many more.