Date: 28 September 2006

Event: First Row Challenge 2006

Submitted by: Sean Farrelly

FirstRow Challenge Won by Howard's Heroes

Marlow Rowing Club held its first ever FirstRow Challenge on Sunday, 10 September. The event was designed to offer members of the public a chance to try out the sport of rowing. Each crew of 4 people was matched up with a coach/cox from Marlow Rowing Club and over a 7 week period attended 3 water training sessions as well as an indoor introduction and optional ergo sessions. A wonderful chance for members of the local community to try out the sport made famous by local Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave.  The culmination for the event was Sunday's regatta where the 24 crews battled it out over a 350m course. The gold, silver and bronze medals were presented to the delighted winners by World and Olympic medallist and Marlow RC member Sarah Winckless. An audience of well-wishers, family, work colleagues and friends cheered on the rowers from the river bank at the club and Higginson park.

Every crew was guaranteed 2 races and in the morning all 24 crews fought it out for a place in the  afternoon ¼ finals. The morning form book picked out the Marlovians and Toms Totty as early favourites. Charlottes Cox won the closest of the first round races by a 1/4 length from Its all Gravy. Its All Gravy went on to make the ¼ finals by winning their second race against Believe! by 2 1/2 lengths.

In the ¼ finals there were some cracking races as the crews battled it out on superb flat water in glorious sunshine. Toms Totty, an all female crew, saw off the Fairweather Rowers who had a few technical problems on the start. The Foosas were pipped by a 1/4 length by Who Dares Swims. The Royal Oak raced well to reach the semi finals. Howards Heroes won a superb race with Danesfield Vikings, both crews neck and neck to the line. Charlottes Cox rowed well to beat the Drifters. Its All Gravy missed out on the semis going down in a cracking race with Rowan's Rowers. The Marlovians were too strong for the Romads. Stroking Three Oars were likewise too strong for Marlow Buoys. The last quarter final produced another great race between Mach 4 Plus, an all female crew, and Here for the Beer. Mach 4 winning by 1 length.

The semi finals were three boat races with Toms Totty showing real technical ability to overcome the power of Rowan's Rowers. Howards Heroes had a sensational race with Carlottes Cox coming through by ¾ of a length, with Mach 4 in third. In the last semi final, the Marlovians had a dodgy start which saw them grazing the wall along the balustrade. Stroking Three Oars took out an early lead but expertly coxed by Laurie Tilbury the Marlovians began to pull back and their clean blade work saw them through to a 1 1/4 length win.

The final was a superb race with all three crews exhibiting a high degree of technical proficiency which was a credit to their cox/coaches. Toms Totty got off to a good start. Coxed by club captain Tom McGibbon, the crew of Amy Bunt, Sally Denholm, Caroline Buggins and Amber Pickering were two lengths off the start with Howard's Heroes getting left off the start. The Marlovians set off in 2nd place. As the crews came level with Higginson park Howards Heroes hit their stride with Cox Sally Reay driving on her crew of Ben Howard, Will Nelson, Pete Holder and Andy Chambers going flat out for the win. They pushed past the Marlovians and gradually wore down Toms Totty. On the line the swimmers from Berkhamsted, Howards Heroes, came through to win by 1/1/2 lengths from The Marlovians with Toms Totty a very creditable third.

A superb day was had by all competitors and supporters. The event was organised by the Marlow Rowing Club novices and run with a huge effort and enthusiasum by many club members. It is hoped that this will become an annual event which gives members of the local community a great opportunity to try out a great local sport. The club hopes that some of the participants might have caught the rowing bug, however even if they don’t choose to continue with the sport they will have great memories of the experience.