ICBC Legend, Adam Freeman Pask, took part in the 171st Wingfield Sculls race from Putney to Mortlake on October 27th 2011. Not only did he win but also broke the course record by 17s, a record that has stood for nearly two decades! Here, he reports on how the day progressed...
After a quick glance out the window it was obvious to both Don and I that the tide was flowing in at a fair rate of knots. However, I was stationed on Middlesex, which for the start would put me out of the stream, should all 5 scullers turned up to race. Fortunately, two guys pulled out; reigning champion Alan Cambell tweaked his shoulder earlier in the week practicing starts (and didn't fall in, as were the rumours from London Rowing Club).
Three boats in the race gave us a sporting chance off the blocks. Don and I went through an array of hand gestures that he would use to help me steer the course (each sculler gets a following launch to help the steer the best line/pick them up if they fall in plus the huge boat race launch which is there just to wash you down if you fall behind.)
Photo courtesy of Hal Bradbury
Lined up and with a quick start on the cards, I blasted of the blocks matched stroke for stroke by Henry Pelly. I looked back for guidance from my steersman Mclachlan but he was frantically waving his arms around like he was doing the haka. I simply interpreted this as wash them down and use whatever was available to knock'em in or crash into. Just past the mile post Pelly was still level but without much warning from the following launches he ploughed into a red navigation buoy. I took a couple of lengths lead going under Hammersmith but was being chased down by Tom Solesbury, who had been biding his time while Pelly and I had been clashing with each other out in front.
Solesbury trimmed the bed and came up level along the eyot. I prayed for another navigation bouy to come and save the day, but instead was greeted by a head wind along the straight to Barnes bridge :(. Some how I kept a good rhythm in the choppy water and steadily pulled out a healthy lead.
At the bridge, the fan club were hot on my heels, the smell of burning rubber from pre-celebratory doughnut's and wheel spins coming from the shogun and all the familiar heckles from Will Todd and the gang followed me round the final bend to the finish. Sophie, who was driving at the time, was pretty eager to catch up with me but they soon overtook me travelling in excess of 40mph. Will Todd was heard to say "he's quick but I don't think he's that quick".
Photo courtesy of Hal Bradbury
With a convincing winning margin I crossed the finish line at chiswick bridge, the umpire launch came to congratulate me on the win and for setting an all new course record, beating the supposed unbeatable time of 19:58 set by Peter Haining in 1994 by an astounding 17 seconds. Wade Hall-Craggs who is the Wingfield Sculls organiser and secretary then had the dry sense of humour to instruct me that I had one thing left to do; kill Peter Haining, as apparently when Peter set his record he claimed that "no one would ever beat his time in his lifetime." Having got off the water I was quizzed about this further, as if it is some kind of mystic prophecy.