Youth rower makes a positive impact abroad
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when most people were finishing off their leftovers, my son Adrian and I woke up early and dressed in multiple layers against the cold English weather. Adrian (or ACE as he’s known) is a youth rower at LOCR, and he was preparing to represent LOCR in the Evesham Masters and Seniors winter Head of the River (HOR) in Worcestershire, England.
Evesham is a small town about 2 hours northwest of London. The town itself dates from the 8th century, and Evesham Rowing Club (ERC) is located inside Abbey Park, which at one time was home to one of the largest abbeys in England until it was destroyed in the 1530s under Henry VIII.
ERC sits on the river Avon – known as “Shakespeare’s Avon” which flows through the town of Stratford some 30 miles upstream. The club had held their Junior event a couple of weeks before, but the organizers arranged for one of their top junior scullers, 15-year-old Toby Haycock, to participate so ACE would have someone to race against in this event.
I’ve raced in the ERC Head of the River many times; it’s a challenging course, especially at this time of the year. It’s a cold 4,000-meter row, upstream, on a river that’s only 50-feet wide and has a large “S” bend halfway through. There’s an even narrower, curvier section in the middle which is designated as a “no overtaking” section. (Now where’s the fun in that?!)
ACE boated early so he could take his time getting to know the course on his row down to the start. Boats can only go in one direction during racing, so everyone had to be down at the start before the race began. As a result, he had plenty of time to talk to his competition and others around him while they waited. His green boat – hand-built by his grandad and well-known within the local rowing community – was the topic of some discussion.
ACE had a good race, rating around 30 most of the way. He successfully avoided hitting the riverbanks, overhanging branches, longboats, and the railway bridge abutment – unlike some of the quads and coxless fours from the local clubs! It was fun to be a spectator on one of the more difficult bends.
Once he got to the last 1k, the location became familiar as ACE raced past the park and playground he and his sister used to play in 10 years ago. As he neared the finish line and the boathouse, the winter sun was just hitting the main town bridge.
After getting his boat out of the water, he made quickly for the warmth of the boathouse where his grandparents were waiting with hot cocoa and sandwiches. It wasn’t quite the quality of the LOCR food tent, but the boathouse was definitely warmer than a tent!
Toby Haycock, ACE’s competitor, soon joined them. Toby is an upcoming star in ERC, which has one of the stronger junior programs in the area. The ERC junior team is coached by volunteers, and because British Rowing has strict prohibitions on sweep rowing and weight lifting for rowers under 15, sculling is dominant among most community junior teams.
ACE congratulated Toby on his win and presented him with an LOCR hat and polo shirt as a thank you for giving him someone to race against in this event.
ACE told us he had had a good row and was very pleased with his clean race, as he should be!
After we got home, I received an email from the press officer at ERC who had written an article about the event:
The Evesham Rowing Club Masters of the Avon and Evesham Senior Head 2017 had an international flavour this year. Sixteen year old Adrian Edwards from Oregon USA was visiting family in the UK and asked if he could enter the time trial event against a local rower and continue a family tradition.
Adrian competed against the clock alongside one of the local club’s rising stars 15 year old Toby Haycock over the 4,000m Long Course from Chadbury through the bends to the Boathouse. These upstream winding events test even the most experienced rowers and in his first time on the Avon Adrian met the challenge coming in just one minute and fifteen seconds behind Toby.
Rowers in Worcestershire now know where Portland – and LOCR – is. ACE represented the club strongly and LOCR has been invited to attend events at Evesham in the future.
- Richard Edwards