Dimboola Regatta and Head of the Wimmera

With regatta season gathering momentum Richmond Rowing Club saw themselves heading out to Dimboola for a Saturday of sprint racing followed by a Sunday of head races. Most made the 3.5 hour journey on Friday evening, rooms had been booked in Horsham for the majority and a few of us chose to brave camping near by in Dimboola. The campers had dinner in the Dimboola pub and I have to say it was the most ‘English Pub’ I have been to in Australia which was a great start to the weekend! We survived a night under canvas with the wildlife (kangaroos and emus a plenty and no, there weren’t any monkeys, they were kookaburras but plenty of other interesting noises.)
Anyway – Saturday morning was time for the 132nd Dimboola regatta. And we were ready! A few of us walked up the river to see the start and check the course. 3 lanes, not buoyed but well marked with a couple of bends (probably insignificant to anyone not steering), 750m.
The Female Masters 4x+ started the day by example winning their race, well done to the ladies of Richmond for getting the first medal of the day Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, Cox: Aline Dejaegher. We hoped it was a sign of things to come. Unfortunately the Male Masters 4x+, Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Cox: Christine Sullivan didn’t follow the lead coming second in their race to Powerhouse.
Next up were the Mens Open 4+ with a crew of Jon Roberts, John Carey, Dennis Beck, Michael Gehling, Cox: Michael Calvert the boys didn’t quite manage to bring it home coming second to Melbourne RC in their final.
Shern Timmins was next up for the girls in the Masters 1x placing third.
The following round was the C Grade Male 1x and Dario Sportelli and Keith Wong were representing Richmond in 2 different draws. They both came through their heats first qualifying for the final and finished both their finals off in style (or did the final finish Keith off…) with a gold medal each. Well done boys!

The Female D Grade girls 1x were next with Lillian Van Oosterhout and Kirsty Fergie in 2 different heats. Both girls came through first in their heats to face each other in the final. It was a fun race for the girls managing to get a Richmond 1,2 with Kirsty just coming in front of Lilian.

Ally Dejaegher and Susanna Mullner were in the masters 2x placing third followed by Amy Catlin and Lily Innes-Irons coming third in their first race in a 2-.
Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Michael Calvert, Tim Evans, Cox: John Carey of the Male D Grade 4+ came down the course in third place in their heat followed by Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Leigh Sullivan, Guy Ayres, Cox: Christine Sullivan Male Masters 4+ also finishing third.
Male Open 4x+ Jon Roberts, Michael Calvert, John Carey, Michael Gehling, Cox: Aline Dejaegher finished third in their heat. It was now time for the Mixed 8+ to take to the river consisting of Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Denis Henry, Philip Munson, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, Cox: Imogen Smith. Finishing 2nd in the straight final but missing out on the win.

Keith and Dario were back in a boat together hoping to mirror their C Grade 1x success however the energy spent in the earlier 1x races took its toll and they came in second place.

Ally and Kirsty took to the river again for their D Grade 2x. Having won their heat they managed to narrowly push past Horsham City in the final later in the day to claim the win and another medal. Unfortunately they didn’t get out of the heat in the C Grade 2x, coming a respectable second.

The winning streak continued with the Female D Grade 4+ Shern Timmins, Amy Catlin, Lily Innes-Irons, Lilian Van Oosterhout, plus cox Keith Wong seeing off their competition to win another gold medal – well done girls!

With races coming in thick and fast boats continued to get on and off the water,
Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Dennis Beck, Tim Evans, Cox: Shern Timmins represented in the D Grade 4x+ managing a second place in their heat.

This was followed by Mike Gehling and Dario Sportelli back in a single for the Open. In different draws Mike came second in his heat followed by Dario coming first in his heat he then powered through to win the final.

The afternoon of racing was drawing to a close with Keith Wong, Michael Calvert, Jon Roberts, John Carey, Cox: Christine Sullivan in the Male C grade 4x+ coming second in their heat followed by Shern Timmins, Lilian Van Oosterhout, Lily Innes-Irons, Susanna Mullner, Cox: Denis Henry in the Female D Grade 4x+ winning their heat but being pipped to the medals in the final.

The masters mixed 4x+ were up for the penultimate race of the day (exc finals) with Christine Sullivan, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Cox: Denis Henry Despite their handicap they came through strongly to take the win, seeing off E grade crews Wentworth and Warrnambool and another medal was theirs.

Finally was the mixed 4x+ Anthea Amos, Amy Catlin, Richard Verheyen, Dennis Beck, Cox: Aline Dejaegher who finished off the day coming third in their heat.

Overall it was a great day for Richmond with too many athletes to count taking part in 24 events.
Whilst people weren’t racing there was an awesome cheer squad at the tent with really good viewing. When we weren’t on the water it was equally fun watching other crews battle it out on the water and obviously prepare our vocal chords for when a Richmond boat was passing.
After the conclusion of the day the happy campers went back to the campsite for some fire cooked food (I tried a new Aussie delicacy of bananas stuffed with chocolate cooked on the fire in foil – YUM) and the other Richmond-ers headed back to the motel for some more civilised thai food.
And then it was Sunday and we were ready for the Head of the Wimmera. A 6.2km course finishing in the same place as the regatta. Special thanks to the coxes, some of whom I am sure would have preferred to row but enabled other crews to do so, it is always appreciated.
The Richmond crews were:
Male Open 4x+
Jon Roberts, John Carey, Dario Sportelli, Michael Gehling, Cox: Ka Ki Wong, Coach: Derek Begg
Female D Grade 4x+
Shern Timmins, Lilian Van Oosterhout, Kirsty Fergie, Aline Dejaegher, Cox: Dennis Beck, Coach: Dario Sportelli
 Mixed 4x+
Richard Verheyen, Steven Sheppard, Amy Catlin, Lily Innes-Irons, Cox: Michael Calvert, Coaches: Dario Sportelli, Ainsley Raggatt
Mixed Masters 8+
Christine Sullivan, Diana Vernon, Philip Munson, Tim Evens, Guy Ayres, Leigh Sullivan, Susanna Mullner, Anthea Amos, plus Denis Henry.
The row up the river was a great warm up however I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking, ‘I’m going to have to come back down here at race pace!’ With a couple of tricky bends on unfamiliar rivers the coxes all did a great job.
Congratulations to the Female D Grade 4x+ and Mixed Masters 8+ crews who both rounded off the weekend coming first in their categories and bringing back more bling.
With boats packed and the trailer loaded we then made a weary journey back to Melbourne, and for many a winning feeling inside!
A big thank you to Barry and Anthea for towing the trailer. Steve Sheppard for BRO’ing and to Shern for organising the accommodation and dinners. Not forgetting the coaches who constantly do a dedicated, fantastic job as well as all of those who work hard behind the scenes to make regattas happen. We all greatly appreciate it.
Kirsty Fergie

Dimboola Regatta and the Head of the Wimmera 2018

Having missed the Dimboola regatta and the Head of the Wimmera last year I was excited to be on the road for the long trip late on Friday afternoon. For those who don’t know Dimboola is a small country town almost halfway to Adelaide. The Richmond contingent of 13 made it to Horsham on Friday night for some food and refreshment allowing us to bring those who hadn’t been to Dimboola before up to speed with the regatta format.
The Dimboola regatta is a 750m sprint on the almost straight section of the Wimmera River that runs up to the Dimboola rowing club. It is only wide enough for 3 lanes and no transit lanes. The regatta is broken up into brackets of 5 or 6 races at a time every 20 minutes. Crews get on water and assemble just past the finish line, when the previous bracket is complete all crews row up past the start line and wait for their race to be called. Typical of country regattas there is a toggle system for stroke seat to hold to asset lining up boats at the start. With a bend just after the start and one just after the finish it make for an interesting row in singles, double and pairs.

We woke early in Horsham on Saturday morning for our 30 minutes’ drive to Dimboola to rig boats and get ready for the day. We had great conditions all weekend, 25 degrees on Saturday and 29 degree on Sunday, no rain and little wind.
Shern was first up in her single, the locals from Dimboola knowledge of the river allowed them to get away to a good start which although closing this over the race, not enough to win. The Mike’s (Gehling and Calvert) were next up successfully winning their heat in the D grade double with some tidy rowing, they came a close second to a powerful Argonauts crew in the final.

Next up was the Men’s Open 4, with Andrew Yuile unfortunately injured, myself, Allan and John Carey we were joined by our Head of Rowing Tim Evans. I was slightly concerned by Tim’s stretching and complaints of his sore back as we pushed off from the landing, but he said he would be fine. We lined up against an experienced Argonauts crew, with Stef coxing we flew off the start finding ourselves a quarter of a boat length ahead. Extending this slightly by half way, the other crew pushed for home reducing our lead, but with the encouragement of the crowd we lifted to take it home and win by 1.05 seconds.
With the unusual arrangements to get on and off water we decided to stay in the boat for the next 40 minutes until our race in the D grade 4. This time we were up against Argonauts and Melbourne crews. The previous race showed as we let Melbourne get away to a half boat lead, but regaining our composure we pushed through the last 250 meters to win by 4.77 seconds.

The races were coming thick and fast now, with Leigh, Denis, Guy and Phil, coxed by Christine up next in the Male Masters four, but unable to beat a fast Powerhouse crew.
After a quick lunch break and some more rigging of boats we could hear the local brass band starting their residency by the river for all the spectators. Up first was Shern and Stef in the double. After a strong start, they edged into the lead, only to be crashed into by one of their competition. The restart saw their competition again come towards them, with a clash of oars the Hamilton and Alexandra crew capsized their boat, but the third crew in the race had already took advantage and went on to win.
Next up was the men’s D grade 8, the scratch crew of Leigh, Guy, Tim, John C, Mike G, Mike C, Allan and myself, coxed by Christine made it comfortably through the heat with some composed and relaxed rowing. In the final we were up against Melbourne in one of the closest races of the day. Richmond getting a solid start and leading by almost half a length, both crews dug deep with Richmond holding off the fast finishing Melbourne boat by 0.85 seconds.

Mike G had a quick turnaround from the 8 into his single (which required a quick bit of rigging), in a close race he came in second. Myself and Allan zig zagged the unbuoyed course in the pair, beating Melbourne but unable to overcome the experienced Wentworth crew.
Last up for the day Denis, Guy, Phil and Leigh were joined by Wentworth in a composite male masters 8, coxed by Christine. Unfortunately they were not able to claw back enough time to beat the older Powerhouse crew.

After picking up our medals we headed back to Horsham for dinner where we recounted the successes of the day and make sure we were well hydrated for the head race the next day.
We were back to Dimboola the next day for the Head of the Wimmera, a 6.2km head race through the most picturesque area. For this race, all crew are required to get on water and row the 6.2km to the start, line up in order and then race back. It’s a real coxswain’s race, with lots of corners, including 2 very tight no overtaking bends where the right line can save vital seconds.
Richmond had 2 crews competing and one cox helping out another club at short notice. Allan, John C, Mike C and myself were coxed by Stef in the D Grade 4. Through some brilliant coxing from Stef we had an excellent line throughout, overtaking our competition in the first kilometer we pushed on to pass a number of boats and pick up the winners medals at the end.

Leigh, Guy, Denis, and Phil were again joined by Wentworth in the Open 8 coxed by Christine, with a good performed against some stiff competition on the day.

Shern was asked at short notice to cox the Argonauts C Grade 8, who came a close second in their grade and thirst fastest of all crews on the day.
A huge thank you to all those who made it a great weekend in the country, Leigh for towing the trailer, Mike G for being our official photographer. Most of all thank you to Stephen Shepherd who made the long trip for the weekend to BRO on Saturday, completing all requirements he is now a level 1 BRO!!! It’s great to see our new members getting involved like this, we always need to people to help out as BRO’s as we are required to provide a BRO (Boat Race Official) for virtually every regatta we attend. Thank you Stephen.
This really is a great regatta, an opportunity to see part of Victoria you may not otherwise visit and support the country rowing clubs who go to great lengths to organise. Hopefully we will see even more members attending next year.
Jon Roberts

Dimboola double debacle

I trundled up to Dimboola or at least Horsham to start with on Friday for the weekend’s 750m sprint races at Dimboola on the Saturday and the 6.2km Head of the Wimmera on the Sunday.  Little did we realise what the weather gods had in store for us in an area of Victoria which was so incredibly drought affected, the regatta was cancelled for a number of years and the weekend subsequently brought forward because of the greedy Melbourne Head stealing their ‘traditional’ weekend (thanks for that bit of helpful info Dave).  Leaving Melbourne on perhaps one of the first truly ‘summer’ days with a beautiful 24deg, we, or rather I cruised along thinking it would be similar ‘warm’ weather over the weekend.  A couple of hours later saw me driving through torrential rain while further north and west hailstones the size of golf balls plummeted down.  Some of us stayed in a motel in Horsham and others pitched tents or a swag at the campsite next to the rowing club in Dimboola.

Saturday morning saw the rowing action begin.  First off were Jon and Tim gliding down the water in their C Pair.  Next up saw the Women’s D Quad (Jen, Chris, Morgan and Susanna) with Denis H coxing, just miss a win in their heat and then Andrew and Dave both win their heats of their D Single.
The Women’s Master’s Four (Karin, Morgan, Chris and Susanna) coxed by Denis H were so keen to get on the water for their race, they arrived a bracket early along with their two competitors, which allowed plenty of time for the other crews to sing Morgan Happy Birthday.  If only she was turning a lot older we wouldn’t have given away a 15sec handicap!  Really great row for a crew who had not rowed sweep for some time, to zoom past the boat with the 9sec head start.  The Men’s D Four saw some fierce racing action between two Richmond crews after both boats qualified for the B final.  An early lead to the crew of Leigh, Guy, Denis H and Phil (cox Chris) had them thinking they were run away winners, but the ‘younger’ boat of Dennis B, Jon, Tim and Laurent (cox Shern) were just warming into things and with 100m to go the boats were neck and neck.  The younger crew managed to come away with the win by 0.3sec on this occasion.  A tight turnaround together with the fact the program was already 50mins behind schedule meant the women’s crew were ‘late to start’ for their Quad final and unfortunately missed out.
It was around this point the weather really started to show what it had in store.  The mornings gusty wind began to pick up and really started blowing boats around all over the course. Dimboola is not a particularly big rowing club and so does not have a very big landing.  Races were rowed in brackets with each bracket launching and sitting or rather becoming entangled in the marshelling area, waiting for the previous bracket to come through the course, before making their way down the course to the start line.  The wind played havoc with the boats, entangling them, blowing them onto and down the course and blowing boats into the bank, trees, reeds and logs.  The wind was strong and it was cold, with limited shelter on the riverbank and absolutely no shelter on the water.  It was about this time the birthday girl Morgan set out for her first race in a double with Susanna.  After missing the earlier quad final, we were eager to get on the water.  And then we sat, and waited and became entangled and drifted onto the course.   Finally we could make our way down the course, toward the start line, or that’s what we had in mind.  It’s probably important to mention that the finish line was just up from the marshelling area and by early afternoon a fairly large crowd of enthusiastic supporters and rowers had assembled to watch the racing action.  We were set to take off and disaster struck.  Two fairly inexperienced rowers up against the gale force winds.  Oars went all over the place, the boat tipped one way, hands grabbed the boat, then reached for the oars again then the boat tipped the other way, all happening very fast but in slow motion until……..finally……. we……. steadied, regained control and our balance and stayed upright.  We did receive a very big round of applause and later on many handshakes and pats on the back for a very big save!  With our adrenaline pumping we made our way to the start and managed to get through the race dry, albeit with one more mid race wobble.  Thankfully no photographic evidence of this exists, however I’m sure it sits pretty firmly in both of our minds.
The Sib Tiger was due to go out for a row by Karin and Chris’s replacement (Imogen from Wenty).  Alas, no go for the Sib Tiger as we had left the riggers back home in the boatshed.  Oops.  So Karin and Imogen lined up in the Sexy and off they went.  I think they had a much better plan by heading down a bracket early, but got very cold at the start line.  Well done to Karin for her first race in a double as well.
The two Men’s Four crews were at it again with action in the Masters category.   Would the ‘younger’ crew get on top again or could the ‘older’ crew get the win.  All I know is there was a lot of banter flying around at dinner that night about 6 seconds this and 7 seconds that.  The older guys came out on top on this occasion.  Well done to both crews and a great way to get those competitive juices flowing with a bit of friendly racing action.  The ‘older’ boat (Leigh, Guy, Denis H, Phil and cox Chris) got the win and and medal for their efforts.
Well done also to some of the other crews in action for Richmond, the Men’s quad (Andrew, Dave, Leigh and Guy), mixed double for Mike G and Lindsey and Men’s double for Mike G and Dave.  Mixed Quads were raced at the end of the day, by which time everybody was hungry and tired and very much wind swept.  By now it was well after 7 for the scheduled 6pm races, where a couple of Richmond crews had great rows under very difficult conditions against very young crews.
The campers stayed at the club for the Dimboola barbeque where snags were tossed around with stories of Tokyo Olympics.  The rest of us headed out a for Thai, where the waiter thought she had finished feeding us not one, not two, but three times, announcing to the table that she had never served a table of our size so much food.
Sunday morning saw 4 Richmond crews head out under difficult conditions for the Head of the Wimmera.  It was cold, windy and raining.  After a quick briefing all boats made their way down the course to the start line.  The Mixed Quad (Dennis, Mike G, Rochelle, Lindsey) had a good row.

The Women’s D Quad (Jen, Karin, Morgan and Susanna) received some excellent coaching (coxing) by Sue Andrews which made for a very enjoyable, educational and smooth row, with each of us coming away with a number of new tips; Tai Chi hands, turning cogs and fast feet to name a few.

The D Men’s Four (Andrew, Jon, Dave and Laurent) coxed by Shern, had a good solid row enjoying the scenery along the Wimmera, while also avoiding the various logs and trees and for Shern, trying to stay warm or rather, not cold and wet.

The Masters Four (Leigh, Denis H, Guy and Phil) had a great row and I’m told flew along, all perhaps in anticipation of a medal at the end until about 2 km to go.  Maybe Christine was a little too excited or she was cold and wet like the rest of us and wanted to finish quickly, but her mighty strength snapped the steering cable and so the guys worked hard to get around the last couple of corners before making it home.

Sunday was a great day of rowing and I think all would agree that it was a fabulous course.  To be completely honest, the weather didn’t even factor into it on Sunday, because we had such an enjoyable row.
A good drive back, through some more driving rain, where I gave Dave a few anxious moments as passenger in my car saw us all assemble for a quick unloading.  All over for another weekend and if as I’m told by good authority (Dave told me one of the guys at Dimboola told him) they have never had weather like that before, I’m sure everyone will be back there again next year.
By Susanna Mullner