A practical and organised squad at this years GRR meant that affairs off the water were plain sailing. On the water the racing was intense as vessels vied for the best line, especially through the first few bridges.
The early morning start was not too much of a shock, even after the previous nights renditions by the oompah band and their enthusiastic drummer. This year rather than launching from the pontoons we were ankle deep in Thames mud as we pushed the boats off from the river edge, clipping the rudder on under the water line. Long wooden craft crossed the river diagonally as we approached the ‘sea-like’ conditions under Tower Bridge; we experienced a few ‘light’ collisions as we squeezed through the initial arches and were witness to a few more fiery exchanges as boats stopped each other and oars clashed. Only once were we reprimanded by the marshal for trying to invent our own route through an out of bounds arch, oh well worth a try! The dragon boats were impressive in their rhythm and speed as they passed us but we remained focused on choosing the correct channel under each bridge and performed our changeovers quite fluently, as practised in our own bay back home. The entire course proved to be tough rowing especially the last five miles as the river narrowed and we fought to keep a challenging Celtic Longboat off our heels, we could feel the blisters forming. It was a strange feeling at the post-race party to stare at the still and deserted river that only a few hours ago had been full of life and noise. Out of the two Celtics entered by Mumbles, the ‘Dragon Slayers’ finished 59th out of 320 boats, 3rd in the Celtic Mixed category & 9th out of 30 Celtic Longboats entered in a time of 2:46:04 . The self-professed fun boat the ‘Sea Urchins’ finished 251 overall in 3:22:29 . The race took its usual 21.6 mile course from Docklands to Richmond and hosted crews from all over the globe.