I won a cup at the regatta 100th anniversary
As St Neots Rowing Club prepares to celebrate it’s 150th anniversary, John Martin who now lives in Cambridge fondly remembers taking part and winning a cup at the 100th anniversary event which was held back in 1965.
Setting the scene, John says, “ I started quite late, in 1965 I would have been 26. I was rowing for Bedford Rowing club and the crew I was with were either training or rowing 6 days a week. We did circuit training and obviously out on the water. Bedford was quite a flourishing club in those days, and we had some very good coaches, we regularly had crews in Henley, and we raced at places like Thames Ditton and up at Boston.”
Talking about the set-up for the centenary regatta in 1965, John says, “It was very similar to the way it is now, I think the course is pretty much the same on the widest part of the river, there were stake boats on the start and the finish was more or less where it is now.
“The categories were different in those days, you started as a novice and then you went to a junior. You could win two races as a junior and then you became a junior senior. By winning at the St Neots regatta that year, we moved from being novice to junior. When we got out of the boat having won, we were promptly all thrown in the river.
“In the St Neots regatta that year we rowed over once and raced five times, there were a lot of competitors that year, the reason was it was the centenary, but also the goblets that were up for winning were very, very popular indeed and I believe there were quite a lot of London clubs that came up to St Neots, because the pint goblets really were stunning and the half pint that I’ve got (pictured) is pretty special. They told us on the day, that when they’d cast all these goblets, so they could never be reproduced, they actually broke the mould.
John concludes by noting how times have changed, saying , “50 years ago we all rowed in wooden boats and now everyone rows in plastic boats. We rowed in a coxed clinker four, it had a rudder off the back rather than underneath. Instead of being what they call a shell (like the modern smooth hulled boats) it was made up of wooden planks which overlap, you don’t see any of them nowadays.”