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 November 5.

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 Hunts Post:

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.