Barwon 2016

It’s Sunday, pre 5:30am, and an alarm is rudely squawking in my ear. It must be sprint season!
Sure enough, on the final day of January the intrepid Tigers headed south-west around the bay to show their stuff at the Barwon regatta.
It certainly wasn’t a glorious start though. With a grim forecast spinning tales of afternoon lighting storms and epic black clouds already towering on the horizon there was a very real chance the afternoon races would be a wash out. My mind flashed back to the previous year, sitting cold and damp in a tent. At least Geelong was consistent!
No time for dreaming about warm beds though because we soon arrived at the river and it was straight down to the serious business of rigging and racing….just as soon as I’d located a coffee and a bacon and egg roll, obviously.

Before I’d even turned a spanner, early birds Ainsley and Sophie were out in the double and Geri was tearing down the course in her single, both awesome performances, with Geri winning her Masters single. Not long afterwards I found myself pushing off from the landing with Nic, Jon, Laurent and Mike N in, somewhat confusingly, a La Trobe boat (thanks for the loan guys!). As we headed up the course we had a brief moment to wish the other men’s D four good luck in the division ahead of us, before it was our turn to take to the start line. Thanks to our ‘just in time’ race management policy the heady wave of line-up excitement, anxiety and nausea was quickly displaced by the starting siren…….and we were off! (note the deliberate pause – we really must work on those starts!). It wasn’t pretty. In fact it was downright rough, but somehow we nosed ahead and scored ourselves a place in the A final. Under expert coxing from Mike N the follow up performance was a little tidier but sadly not enough to win and we finished up third. Allan, Devindhe, Lachlan, Dave and Christine did a sterling job and finished up first in the C final.
With a generous five hour break before our next race it was down to the serious business of lunch, more coffee, and cheering on the other Richmond boats. There was a brief distraction as the cyclists in the Cadel Evans road race zipped past the course, and miraculously the clouds gave way to beautiful blue sky and some serious sunshine. This upturn in the weather afforded a quick trip to the road bridge and a flourish of ‘aerial’ photography of the boats coming across the line, with some really nice results (photos and rowing performances). Whilst the Barwon might not be the most beautiful regatta on the circuit (that title surely goes to the Head of the Goulburn?) it certainly showed its best to us this afternoon.
M8+ Barwon 2016
There was lots of great racing on show, with some really convincing wins in the heats and some tight races in the finals, leaving us just shy of medals. Leigh, Mike C, Andrew Y, Andy H and Christine pulled up first in the B final of the Men’s D Quad, whilst Sarah H and Michelle both put in sterling performances in their singles races. The women’s B Quad, C Four and the flotilla of Pairs and Doubles kept us on the edge of our picnic blankets for the afternoon. Notably it was fantastic to watch the female DS crews put in some very tidy performances in their Quads.
Eventually we bolted the two men’s Fours together and fielded a D Eight against Barwon. Under the confident guidance of Mike N once more the boat ran a lot better this time and we were able to finish the day with a pleasing win and score some seriously chunky bling. It also gave Tim (HOR) a chance to show off his legs in the crew photo shoot!
M8 medals Barwon 2016
My final memory of the day is cheering on Andy H in an absolutely nail biting chase down the course in the D singles. Andy pushed so hard but sadly was just beaten at the post by Barwon. He must’ve given the other chap a fright though as the Barwon rower was last seen laid out on the landing alongside his boat looking absolutely destroyed. Nice work Andy!
And that was that. Another regatta over. Before we left Geelong we, very generously, tried to donate the Tom Appleby to La Trobe, but for some reason they weren’t too keen to have it on their trailer. Odd?!
Finally a sincere thank you to all those who make these events happen, notably Barry and Tim for lugging boats around the state and generally making things work. An entertaining and challenging day for all with great company and, surprisingly, great weather. Thanks Barwon, we’ll be back for more next year.
Matt E