Succesful start of season at Isle of Ely Head Race November 2023
St. Neots Rowing Club launched their season with a successful start at the Isle of Ely Head race. Securing several victories and delivering impressive performances, the club celebrated wins in the women’s coxless four, a one-two finish in the men’s coxed fours, and success in the masters men’s single sculls. The women’s double added to their win in the four with victory, while notable performances were delivered by the masters quad, men’s single, men’s double, and the junior squad excelled in the mixed double event. As the club now looks ahead, there is a strong focus on building upon this success in the upcoming parts of the season, with hopes of replicating and surpassing these achievements.
St Neots rowers with their pots in front of the river at Ely. Left to right: Olivia Marsh, Clara Zwetsloot, Dominic Chapman, Nigel Etherington, Mark Cooney, Paul Gibson and Matthieu Decoene.
Full race report
Undeterred by strong winds and a fast stream, 28 rowers from St Neots Rowing Club took to the Great Ouse for the Isle of Ely Head Race on the 5th November.
The strong wind was evident from the first division, with junior mixed double of Molly Folbigg and Ethan Sparrow battling the gusts over the 3km course. Racing for time-only as the only J15 boat in their category, they gained valuable race experience in tricky conditions.
Division 2 was the turn of the bigger boats with the coxless four of Becki Dixon, Olivia Marsh, Jaione Echeveste, and Clara Zwetsloot picking up the first pot of the day. The men’s coxed fours was a St Neots only category with the more experienced crew of Mark Cooney, Nigel Etherington, Paul Gibson, Matthieu Deocene (coxed by Ali Brown) winning over their club-mates and gaining first pots for Mathieu and Nigel. The second boat, coxed by Deb Hellett, was the first race for recent learn-to-row graduates Andrew Korolev, Graeme Johnson, David C, and David Rooney who finished the race just 22s behind the other crew despite a broken steering wire, a detached footplate, and a broken rigger.
Finally, in division 2, club captain Dom Chapman won the masters A singles category, his first head race in a single scull in almost three years.
The wind dropped for division 3 for the final five St Neots boats of the day.
First up was the masters coxless quad of Karl Zwetsloot, Jim Farrell , Stuart Williams and Phil Copperwheat. Ali Brown took to the Great Ouse for a second time to cox a ladies masters four of Rachel, Valia, Marlene and Sarah, this time without competition, racing for time only.
Also without other boats in their category was the double scull of Matt Wigmore and Brad Willies. Undeterred, they finished with the fastest time out of all St Neots boats of the day, covering the 5km stretch of river in 23 minutes and 14 seconds.
The ladies double of Olivia Marsh and Clara Zwetsloot won another pot in their second race of the day, overtaking their Sudbury rivals early on in the race and beating them by 13s.
The last boat of the day was Adriane Vuylsteke, starting last in Division 3 he overtook two other boats in a competitive open single sculls category, finishing in a respectable third place.