Footscray and Henley on the Maribyrnong Regattas

Saturday and it’s overcast with the likelihood of rain, not the best weather for racing but the carpark was already full. 9 o’clock and we’re plenty early for a 10.36 race time.
As usual when the Sullivans tow, the trailer is handy and loaded with other Club’s boats. A big thanks for Shern whose been here since the start of the day to fulfill the clubs BRO duties.
Our first race; Guy, Leigh, Phil and Denis; Race 33, the MM4X+ first and final. The familiar impatient wait at the landing for a space, that odd nervy sense of haste to get the feet set and find a line to move down the transition lane.
On the way down to the line we get to cheer on Andrew as he comfortably takes out a heat of the MD1x. Later in the day after plenty of racing a tired Andrew after recovering from a less than perfect start, performs well in the ensuing final.
Plenty of room down behind the start line for some race starts and a “faster, faster” set. Hitting 52 is a great confidence builder for the first race.
While we’re down behind the line, it’s Gerri and Ainslie’s turn. Appearing to have the other two crews covered they easily win Heat 2 of the FC2X with a boat length and a half margin.
Off before us, it’s Dennis, Andrew, Jon and Allan in the MM4X+ with Stef on the tiller and Corio Bay and Footscray on the line. Despite what the programme says, these are all first and finals. Confessing later to never have got going in the race, the guys finish 3rd – maybe it was the quick turnaround for Andrew, maybe the first race of the day, First races are often a triumph of adrenaline over technique.
Richmond off GO; don’t you love being an E crew! Hawthorn and Rutherglen Lakes/Wahgunyah are both off 3 seconds; we get a great start and enjoy a comfortable win.
Straight after Andrew’s D single final, Dennis, Dave M, Jon and Allan coxed by Stef race down the course in the MD4+. The Wahgunyah crew doesn’t let up and chases them all the way to the line but can’t prevent another Richmond win.
Footscray 4+
Now to the final of the FC2X; two well-credentialled Essendon crews can’t prevent Gerri and Ainslie racing to the line and taking another win for the Club.
Back in the quad for the X4X+; Jen, Denis, Leigh and Christine. One of those starts that reminds us all to be ready every time; because none of the crews was. Hardly is a line called than we hear Go! Surprisingly, we’re out of the blocks fast and first. Two great crews; Footscray City and Essendon keep the chase on and by the 300 metre mark they’ve drawn alongside. Unbelievably they end up in a dead heat and no, that doesn’t make it a 2nd for us – that would be 3rd.
Race 108; the MM4+ first and final, two Richmond crews (Leigh, Guy, Denis, Phil and, Allan, Jon, Andrew and Dennis) and Rutherglen Lakes/Wahgunyah, a grudge race? No, but plenty of banter at the start line. And what did I say about being an E crew? You gotta love it! Richmond -Sullivan off Go, Rutherglen Lakes off 3 secs and Richmond – Randall off 9 secs.
The chase was on from the start and it’s a great one, two for Richmond with the Sullivan boat holding off the fast finishing Randall crew. Was the margin still 9 seconds? Depends which boat you were in. J
We don’t get to see Race 66; the final of the female C Grade double scull, safe to say Richmond, Goss and Raggatt have a comfortable win over two Essendon crews.
Race 123, the first and final of the FC4X+; Karen, Michelle, Ainslie and Gerri coxed by Shern have a win over a sole Essendon crew.
Late in the day Keith, in his double with Dave M takes out his first win in the B final of the double. There’s nothing more encouraging than your first win. That is what brings you back to the start line time after time.
It’s Sunday and standing high above the river at Essendon you get that great view of the full 350 metres of the course and you know that if you don’t start fast here you don’t win.
We find out that before we even arrive, Anthea has won in the FM4+ composite with a Caulfield and Mercantile crew.
11.36; it’s a much better time to for the first race of the day. The MM4X+ again with Rutherglen Lakes/Wahgunyah off 1 second; 1 second! What sort of start is that? And Barwon/Corio composite off 3 seconds – that’s a bit better.
It’s tricky to get a practice here but with a steady hand and a keen eye Christine takes us through the weird bridge foundations to get a couple of starts in and get the heart rate up.
It must have worked, a really tight finish with Barwon/Corio right in the mix – when it’s that close it’s always hard to know especially when the finish line is angled across the river. Finally it’s confirmed another Richmond win!
Back in the mixed quad and on the line against Barwon and Hamilton and a mighty young crew Hamilton looks. Mixed should be Masters J so we suggest they give us a 22 second start which unobligingly they ignore. A great start for Richmond but Barwon comes off their racing line, oars clash, some have to stop rowing; we get going again and dash for the line, holding off Barwon comfortably. Where is Hamilton – I can only see two boats – gear failure on the line? But no! They win and we’re left wondering – but for the crash – maybe?
Anthea has a win in the Mixed Eight in a combined Caulfield, Mercantile, and Richmond composite over Barwon and Essendon.
In the end a great weekend of racing with a swag of medals for Richmond and best of all for tired rowers, a short drive back to the sheds for a quick boat unloading.
By Dennis Henry