A Grand Day Out in London

On 29 November, Julian Scrivener won the Masters D division of the Scullers Head on the Tideway in London. This is the biggest sculling event of the year, with around 550 entries, and is held over the Boat Race course (in reverse – running from Mortlake to Putney). As well as beating the 30-odd others in his age-group, Julian’s time of 22minutes 10 seconds was only just over a minute behind the overall winner of the event, who is over 30 years younger than him and who won a silver medal this year in the World under-23 Rowing Championships. Here’s his story of how he did it …

Early start on Saturday, leave Cheltenham at 5.00 am to get down to Barn Elms for a 9.30 race.

After a really calm 10k paddle Friday morning I felt in great shape for a good race. On arrival the conditions looked good, boated at 8.30. The paddle up to the start was incredibly bouncy, mainly due to all the safety launches buzzing around. 9.15 and in position at the start, off load my kit to Tabs (ground crew for the day!). With time to spare the usual eyeballing could commence. One of my two chief rivals, Frank Raschke, was starting three ahead, so a cursory nod of the head to Frank then back to focusing on what was going to have to happen in the next 25 minutes for me to realize my intentions of winning. At this point I must thank Ron for the message he sent out on Friday detailing the areas where the head wind would be at its worse and laying out a great race plan to follow.

My race starts well pushing hard at 32’s for a minute then settling at 30’s for the next 3 minutes. Approaching Barnes Bridge I’m caught by no 37 (young whippersnapper from Westminster), have to give way and get pushed wide on the bend, tuck back in behind him but go too far over to the opposite side. Get it together by the Bandstand then start to think about just sculling clean, relaxing and letting the boat run out (first, second and third rule of the Ron!)
By St Pauls I’m level with no34 and no35 and push on hard to break away and clear Hammersmith Bridge ahead then squeeze away from them towards the mile post. Steering at this point is bang on (compared to previous attempts). I ask for more of myself – win it here, last 4 minutes, there’ll be seconds in it, trust the legs, breathe and sit tall -stay clean and sharp. Barn Elms approaching fast, take a look- yes straight for the Black buoy and then the finish, 2 minutes left. Now time to let rip, I start to jack the rate up over five strokes to 34 passing Vesta , no mistakes, keep it clean but push again, must find more. London RC is coming soon, look & sense finish line, go ape for ten and finish.Mr Scriv 7

First thought always is “was that enough”, see Tabs and get the thumbs up. Find out later on, from the Provisional set of results, that it wasn’t enough missing out by 3.5 seconds. I felt great disappointment to have missed out, left with the feeling of being “owned” for another year. Later on I began to analyse my time comparing it with those of no’s 34, 35 and 38 and I felt something wasn’t quite right. Having overtaken them both and finishing well ahead I was only attributed 7 seconds over no35, my thoughts were it should have been at least 15 seconds.

Then, Monday morning 8.30, receive a text from my great mate Mark who won Masters E saying “you really ¬¬need to see the results”. Tabs opened up the web page to see a revised set of times, and there it was, Upton RC winner Mas D, YYYYEEESSSSSSS!

I have, however, still spent these last days in a state of flux waiting for the various updated versions to come and go, so I am relieved to be able to send this report now as the final times have been published. I would again like to thank Ron for the coaching and video clips, those two outings together helped me greatly, making the slight tweaks to my set up, and your 3 step mantra helped cut a clear hole through my fog. In previous years I have won this event, but not when I was a member of any club. I was boating from a school boat house in Tewkesbury and training completely on my own. Being a part of Upton RC has helped me immeasurably over this year. This was by far and away my best performance to date, finishing just over 1 minute behind the overall winner is something rather special to me. I put a lot of that down to being in a “happy space”.

Thank you all for your support and interest. Next challenge will be to find a suitable outfit for the big one – Upton Xmas Head!