In the noble sport of rowing, those over the age of 27 years are all classed as ‘Masters’ and these and banded together with a letter denoting each age category, ‘A’ being the youngest and those of slightly more mature years like my good self, having recently crept in my 60s, classed as an ‘F’.
Different age groups can then race one another with an appropriate handicap being applied to create an almost level playing field (river).
I would never class myself as an athlete or even a sportsman but I came across and fell into this sport about fifteen years ago and I have to say that aside from the ghastly exertion involved from time to time, it suits me rather well. Looking backward while on the water in the company of friendly souls is an immensely pleasurable way to spend a happy couple of hours of a weekend, particularly if the sun is warm on your back and the breeze is light. Herons, Grebes, Ducks, Swans and Geese all add to the charm of a Sunday morning outing.
There are other days, of course, when the wind will howl, snow or sleet will fall and your hands will be close to numb but even days like these have charm. To row quietly on a silent river amidst flurries of snow in the depths of winter is a privilege and a delight.
Anyway, from time to time we test our skills and ageing bones against other like minded souls at events across the land and in July we took part in the Henley Masters Regatta, side by side racing between the booms on a slightly shorter course than Henley Royal Regatta (thankfully) but the competition is strong and fierce so this year we were mighty proud to emerge as the victors in the F4+ (over 60s coxed four). Possibly our finest hour thus far!