National Cup 2007

What's this? Where are we?... We couldn't possibly have been in Nottingham as there was no wind, the sky was light grey rather than dark and broody and people were walking around in T-shirts. Had the world gone mad? Had I brought a few too many thermal tops? What had happened to the wind and rain we'd seen all season?

And so we witnessed the first miracle of the day - a millpond surface on the regatta course. Little did we know how many other miracles we would be witness to.

But first, the boat balancing act. Or, in Batchworth's case, "who has eaten the most pies in Oz" competition. General consensus was that Mr D in his usual 'all or nothing' style won that one by a fine margin. However it soon transpired that, seat by seat, the whole of the right side was (considerably) heavier than the left side. A bit of shifting around required...

The 200's went off in our usual style, inspired by the England performance up to this point (this was early Saturday morning remember). A weak first 'match' which left us as winners but with plenty to improve on. Fortunately we skipped the 36-0 mauling and moved straight on to the 44-22 Samoa game, winning the 200m final by a pretty massive 1.7 seconds. It's coming together but with areas needing focus.

Not having sufficient numbers of women of the opposite sex in the team meant our challenge for the mixed events was never going to happen so to kill a bit of time before the 1000m slog, err I mean race, the crew retired to the bar and the lounge to watch the unravelling of the team we were basing our performance on... but, of course, you all know by now that this was the second miracle of the day. And what a belter.

Well, we couldn't let the side down now, could we? So the 1000m heat became our Tonga match - theoretically straightforward but don't get complacent and don't ever take your eye off the ball.
Then the 1000m final [Is there anybody that actually wants to do 1000m heats? Can't we just seed them like we did in 2006? Or is it just me?].
The final was a flat out affair with haunting memories of the previous two years where the finish was waaay too close for comfort. This time, however, there was to be no mistake - a 5 second margin at the finish will do nicely thank you very much. 12-10 or 2-0 it's all the same to us.

So, Saturday... A good day for Batchworth. Two golds and a good portion of the way to the open championship title. How could it get any better?
But, you've guessed it, the next miracle was a mere jeux away - quelle surprise and all that. The men in black beaten too! So: yellow and black - not lucky colours this week-end; Blue and white - très bien; Who would have thought!!

Sunday dawns and it's all we can do to maintain our new weight categories with the full English breakfast and as much toast as you can handle - it's a tough old game.
Again we still can't enter the mixed event so it's a case of sit and wait, watch the form, and marvel at the improvements of both Typhoon and Raging Dragons. Finally the 500m open event arrives and our first run out is a slightly rusty but functional ordeal - a few crew missing from yesterday and a few new arrivals to make up the shortfall. At least the dreaded jet lag seems to have been avoided and bagging the semi without Thames, Amathus and the newly headed Three River Serpents was a handy bonus point too.

On to the grand finale - the last 500m race of the season - the one every crew wants to win. Last year it was one one hundredth of a second between first and second and only one tenth to third. Who can handle the pressure...? who wants it more...? who would drum the most actively (honestly, I ask you)...?
Thames want the Colenorton trophy, Amathus want to follow up their league success, Batchworth want retribution, Three Rivers want to prove a point and they all want the open championship title. Gloves are off, chips are down, fat ladies are getting ready to sing and cliches are being spouted everywhere.
Go! The Batchworth machine found it's best form of the week-end right on cue. This time there was no easing off, no respite and absolutely no damn way we were giving this one away. What was the margin? Three seconds; a boat length; half a boat length; depends who you spoke to, but this time we didn't need the photo finish! Allez Les Bleus - Batchworth are open champions once again.

Congratulations to Amathus with the Colenorton trophy and the league; Thames with numerous wins in the mixed and ladies events and so close in the final count for the Colenorton; Typhoon for their best improvers award; and everyone else for tough racing and great competition.
Many thanks to the organisers, commentators, competitors and weather gods. And we like the new presentation of trophies immediately after the race.

À bientôt mes amis.