Sharp gains promotion on water
The opening Hasler race of the season was held at Cambridge on Sunday in difficult conditions and was well supported by clubs in the eastern region with local interest centring on Karl Brown from Southwold (Division Nine) and Chris Sharp from Waveney (Division Eight.
The opening Hasler race of the season was held at Cambridge on Sunday in difficult conditions and was well supported by clubs in the eastern region with local interest centring on Karl Brown from Southwold (Division Nine) and Chris Sharp from Waveney (Division Eight.)
This normally placid venue was replaced by a fast-flowing, earthy, brown river Cam with a fair amount of tree debris being swept along in the swollen waters caused by the heavy overnight rain.
Dry, but overcast, a strong blustery wind added to the difficulties facing the competitors.
The four-mile short course heads down river for about half-a-mile, before turning back up river to the start. The riverbank is quite open, close to the start, but is lined by many small overhanging bushes on the upper section, with a few low tree branches needing care to pass under.
Three groups of K2s started first followed by four groups of K1s and finally the Lightning class for the under-12s which makes for a lot of river traffic - about 100 - and creates much wash to add to the wind waves.
Sharp managed a reasonable start in the 10-boat line-up and after an initial collision, was just in contact with the lead group and at the first turn was eighth. After the turn and in fifth spot and heading up past the start, it was apparent that many were finding conditions too difficult, as soon there were several capsized boats and swimmers to be negotiated around. He was chasing hard behind what seemed like the lead boat of Ant Wright from Bishop's Stortford.
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The pair passed many slower boats as the river narrowed and finally Sharp slipped past and got ahead.
The river at the turn was partially blocked by a capsized C1 and Sharp managed to pass a boat at the turn which was unknowingly the lead boat.
Concerned about the speed of Ant Wright on the current-assisted downward run, the leader sped back down the course not realising he was being wash hung by the second-placed boat.
All became clear with about 500m to go when two Lightnings were being passed and one lost control, and with Sharp slowing to avoid a collision, the chasing boat passed on the unobstructed side to take the lead.
On realising he was now second, Sharp made very effort to chase down the leader, but with equal speed the gap of three to four boat lengths was too great and he finished seven seconds adrift.
Although disappointed, it was his best result at this level of competition and has since been promoted to Division Six along with the race winner with Ant Wright going into Division Seven.
The division nine race was split into two groups because of the high numbers and Karl Brown was in the race (the odd numbers) but found the crowded start difficult and was slow away.
After the first turn the faster evens were passing him but he began to make some progress heading up the river among some capsized boats assisting one crew in the water along the way.
On the narrower twisting sections with the wind and current making boat control uncomfortable, Brown was careful not to capsize. On his arrival at the top turn it was partially blocked by a capsized K2 making it difficult and with a reasonable run to the finish came home 14th, as last year.