Team Apogee displays its signature determination in drama packed Great River Race
Drama can be the only word to use as, yet again, Team Apogee took to the waters of The Thames for the 21-mile Great River Race
in their handcrafted Thames Cutter in order to add to their ambitious fundraising target for Capital FM’s Charity, Help a Capital Child.
With supporters like Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon, Breakfast presenters for Capital FM, the team was determined to improve on last year’s time in this prestigious race.
For a more detailed account of the The Great River Race 2013, have a read of the blog below:
SIMPLY RED – The Great Thames River Race 2013
Weeks of training has brought not just a sense of purpose but a confidence that Team Apogee are no longer just enthusiastic triers. We are, to coin a phrase from The Six Million Dollar Man, better – stronger – faster and I should add wiser. Personally, nothing short of a medal will do!
We sense that our competitors think that we are the crew to watch – not that they have a choice. We personify IN YOUR FACE sticking out like a sore thumb. Our luminous yellow jerseys a Luis Vuitton counter in Primark, three black members in our Zebra crossing team (which is three more than anyone else) and if that is not enough, we have a massive Apogee flag on the back of our boat. Apogee do not do covert.
Like the year before, we have just one change to the team with our US Navy Seal Stuart taking over from our English Walrus John Painter who is here shuffling on the beach with the camera at the front of the boat. The rest of the crew is the same as last year… Well sort of. Femi now regularly comes to training with baby milk stains on his vest as befits a first time dad be it that his beautiful little girl is breast-fed. Campbell spurts as much crap as Ed Milliband so much so that Mrs. Trainer has swopped her kitchen towel manufacturer from Plenty to Andrex (three ply). I am five pounds heavier and a “Comfortable size 34” much to Jason’s amusement. Talking of Jason, he is as bronzed as Simon Cowell and one wonder’s if it has came from Santa Monica or Soltan. Most surprisingly of all – Barry has bloody mellowed with age like the ‘sedated’ “Mac” Murphy.
Boosty our Cox is now permanently bespectacled with a Ronnie Kray vibe about him exacerbated by the fact that he sacked lasts years 8th man Noah for turning 14 and replaced him with 12 year old Leyton with a comforting “I’ll look after you son!”
Lesson learnt from last year, when we were the last boat in our class to leave, we try to sneak forward unnoticed (with our half Mandingo crew in Lollypop lady yellow), and position ourselves in sight of AHOY the race favorites with the plan to get ahead through the chaos that ensues at the start then settle behind a few of the leaders and turn on the power to pass as many of them as possible once we get to Kew Bridge.
What a start! Ronnie lets us loose and “Mac” Murphy leads the tempo brilliantly as we fly over the Cuckoos Nest that is the start of our class race. “Cowell” picks up the rhythm for the other side of the boat with Andrex and I turning that rhythm into power. Suckle and the Seal turn the power into momentum and we are “looking good baby”. If Carlsberg made starts to the Great River Race this would be it. Well almost – Carlsberg would have Sharon Stone coxing in a little white number constantly crossing her legs.
We weave through the aggressive choppy water, 6 Lionel Messi’s in Camp Nou stewards Jackets and we are only in third gear. We have all the leaders in our sights and quite frankly they are blowing like Spurs chasing a Champions League place at Easter. Yes some of them gain on us but frankly if it takes that much effort for them to gain parity with Team Apogee in third gear – who knows, that medal around our necks may be a little shinier than bronze. Two miles and the madness at the start subsides and we are starting to get comfortable apart from Andrex who is hyper and thinks that every silver lining has a cloud. Watch out for this; watch out for that – wtf? No one is listening to him as our pre school child continues talking to his imaginary friend – who now has grey hair…
FFS what was that? As we position ourselves into calmer water, we settle into cruise control we are struck a glancing blow by frustrated opponents as we assume preferential race position ahead of them. We are hardly bothered by it until Ronnie does an impression of a man who has left the house without his mobile phone that is not password protected, jumping around frantically. They have knocked off our bloody rudder.
The rudder? We are Hamilton without his steering wheel, Tiger Woods without his Putter, Usain Bolt without spikes, Phil the Power with two darts; we are f*&^%d.
A marshal comes along side us, the grim reaper “your our race is over. Pull to the side.” Even Andrex is speechless. Our heads are scrambled; were helpless, Force India’s are going past our Red Bull. I still do not know who suggested it but it is decided to use pressure differential from both sides of the boat to steer us home. To go right Ronnie shouts for Mac, Suckle and I have to pull harder. If we want to go left Cowell, Andrex and the Seal pull harder and to go straight we all pull on full power. Our spirits are down, some people think that we were showing tremendous courage to carry on but for me it was simple. There is no way I am carrying Sarah~Lisa (our boat) on my head through the City, along the South Bank, down Parliament Square, around Putney High Street to Richmond. Sod that, let’s row.
The marshal’s think that we are crazy, but allow us to continue, and they were soon to be proved right.
Let me first explain, that while rowing you have your back to the front of the boat. The Cox is the eyes of the crew.
What happened next gave me an idea of the expression that was on the face of the man who was gazing out of the window on the 91st floor of the World Trader Centre at 08:46 on 9/11. To hell with CEO’s and children first; there was horror in Ronnie’s wide-open eyes as he instinctively got to his feet, screamed something in Chinese (well it may as well have been for how much sense it made) and looked like he was about to jump into the Thames. I did not have a clue what was happening as the sun disappeared and I heard the Navy Seal scream. I turned just in time to see a wall of concrete AKA Battersea Bridge.
Wherever you are,
I believe that the heart does go on
“You ok lads? You need to give up.” Shouts the marshal.
I must admit that I think that it is curtains for us. But Sarah~Lisa is having none of it and is badly smashed but not broken she is not letting water in and not giving up. Neither are we.
We dust ourselves down (ok dry ourselves off) and decide to keep going. Our problems are made worst by the broken rudder being stuck in a position that makes it even harder for “Mac’s” side of the boat, but this is just another major hurdle that we have to overcome. And we do, all the way to the finishing line at Ham we continue to pass boats but victory is not even a consideration. On the home straight, a marshal gives us a respectful thumb up – he knows that we have overcome all of the odds to get the boat home. We are exhaustive and glorious losers but draw no comfort from it. Gutted!
To be honest, apart form the six of us no one else will ever truly understand what we went through, why we put ourselves through it and how we feel. It is not one of our great memories but it is memorable for other reason. When I am up against it in life I know who I would want at my side.
Stuart – Femi – Campbell – Jason – Barry and Dave, I salute you!
WE WILL BE BACK!