The 2017 Great River Race was the 30th anniversary of this fabulous event and probably the most satisfying ever in terms of rowing, time and position. It was also the tenth for the Barge Master. The weather forecast seemed to change by the day and indeed on Friday we were promised sunshine, whereas by Saturday, it was sunshine and thundery showers. And that is precisely what happened.
As always, it was a very competitive start, but by some excellent coxing by Brind Waldron we were able to cross the start line just five seconds after our official start time. Our usual cox, Oli, now took up a place as a rower for the very first time at this event. As a result, we now had three rowers on board who could also cox, so we would not be short on talent if needed.
This year we decided to change two things. Firstly we ensured that the passenger should also be a rower, so that we could keep the pressure on for the whole race and maximise our chances of a fast time. What was also new this year, was how we arranged the crew. Whereas previously, we have had the passenger and cox at the stern, it was thought that once out of the choppy waters of central London, we would have a far better balanced boat if the passenger sat in the bow. After about eight miles, the bow rower moved forward to become passenger, whilst with perfect timing to ensure no loss of momentum, each crew member moved back one place and a well rested John Deverill took over from Tom Lee in stroke. The waters now allowed us to maintain a long, slow and very powerful rate which saw us overtake everything in sight. We held off a number of attacks on our position and most satisfyingly were able to come in ahead of the Tallow Chandlers, usually our nemesis at this event. The Barbers’ Cutter provisionally covered the twenty two miles in 2 hrs 48 mins and was fourth in class. Final results should confirm this.
This year’s crew was made up of David Lee, David Brown, Nick Goddard, Dick Blanchard, Tom Lee, John Deverill and Brind Waldron. We must not forget Simon O’ Leary who kindly chased us along taking pictures. This was a magnificent effort by an experienced and very dedicated crew. Thanks to all.