Graeme Coleman was the doughty club sculler who took on the might of international giants in last week's Wingfield Sculls race. Here is his write-up for Rowperfect's readers.
A 300 mile round trip for a 20 minute slog along a windy, choppy stretch of tidal water, against opposition I realistically had no chance of beating might not sound on the face of it like the constituents of a good day out. The reality of my first Wingfields Challenge against the top two scullers in the world was quite the opposite.
My race tactic was simple, get out quickly, push until I was ahead and wash the opposition down. As unlikely as this was, given my opposition, this has always been my tactic for head to head racing. The Tideway has claimed some high profile names in the past; maybe it would help me out this time.
By the time we boated the tide was nicely flowing in against the prevailing head wind creating tough conditions. This is something you just don’t get on the Trent![Graeme sculls for Nottingham and Union RC ] Head down off the start, I looked up after 5 rocky strokes and to my surprise I was still pretty much level, conditions were rough but this didn’t stop Campbell quickly getting into his stride and powering past me (no surprise there).
On my left Drysdale seemed to be struggling. I went for a big push to get ahead but caught a crab, nearly a roller. I recovered but had gone from a few feet up to nearly a length down! I pushed again (in hope rather than expectation) and managed to get back on terms. Unfortunately the only way to stay in contention was to keep pushing, by the time we approached the mile post Drysdale had edged ahead and was clear. I tried one last push to stay with him, this lasted about 3 strokes but with clear water he moved in front and my bit part contribution to the Wingfield Challenge was over. What followed was a long, predictable (and painful) 15 minutes. Drysdale had recovered his form and went about chasing down Alan, who was close to matching the course record which is incredible given the head wind.
The final result showed up the true gulf in class between the decent amateur and the top pros. I was asked afterwards if I felt I was the only true Amateur in the race, of course I was but the event wouldn’t be what it is if the best in the world didn’t take part.