West Norfolk Rowing Club members were out in force at the weekend with a number of crews taking to the water on the River Yare for the Norwich Head race.
Three quad crews and two doubles from West Norfolk and RAF Marham Rowing Clubs competed in the 2000m Division One race, including entries in the open, mixed and junior classifications.
The first action was a coxless men’s quad which had an injury-enforced crew substitution in the days before the race.
With their regular bowman unable to row, Alistair Mackie took the bow seat, with Stuart Porter, Ron Rusman and Steve Venables at stroke.
With the strong, gusty wind they struggled initially to find a rhythm and instead found an over-hanging tree.
Once back in clear water they made some gains to finish in a respectable time of 12.24 minutes, all factors considered.
Next up was a mixed coxed quad crew from RAF Marham with West Norfolk head coach, Belinda Walker, standing in as cox.
This was a scratch crew made up of novices, several not having competed before, so recording a 2km time of 11.07mins was a real achievement.
Chasing down these initial crews was a West Norfolk coxless quad, steered by Mike Hutchinson with Robert John, Karen Wilson, and Simon Prior at stroke.
After a strong start, the crew soon passed the first boat ahead and after another 500m were closing on the RAF boat.
However, overtaking on a corner with the wind pushing the boat off course, they nearly came together with a moored vessel.
With good crew co-operation disaster was averted and they went on to finish in the best time for a quad in the division with a time of ten minutes exactly.
West Norfolk’s men’s double scull of Mark Dawson and Phil Holden overtook one boat on the course and came close to catching a second, to record a very respectable time of 11.12mins.
After having to wait in the bitter cold at the start for an extended period, the West Norfolk WJ15 double crew of Abi-Lou Page and Evelyn Palmer had a good race.
This was the second time they had competed together on this course and they improved on their previous time by over a minute, to finish in 12.27mins.
The second division took place in the afternoon and a WNRC ladies coxless quad raced over the 5000m long course.
The crew of Charlotte Jacobs, Helen Pryer, Liz Palmer and Vicky Alexander battled the even stronger wind and significant waves over this extended course and finished in a most respectable time of 24.05minutes, only 18 seconds behind their Norwich opposition.
Although still a relatively young club, West Norfolk is becoming better known in the region and will host its own head race in the spring.
Rowers are looking forward to warmer days, and West Norfolk is also commencing this year’s learn-to-row programme.
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