Someone has to lead the parade, and for the 53rd running of the Head of the Charles, Great Britain's Tom Bishop was happy to do that, even if he found the idea of being the first rower in the first event of the entire two-day regatta "daunting."
He was also happy to turn the spotlight into an advantage and win the Men's Senior Veteran Singles (70 and up) and the first medal of the regatta.
Just after the race, Bishop talked with row2k about the experience and his history in rowing and in racing at the Head of the Charles.
row2k: What's it like to lead the race, being number one for the whole weekend?
Bishop: Well, it's a privilege, being the first of the first. But it is slightly daunting.
I didn't know where Michael Tebay (Greenwich Crew) would come at me, or whether I'd be able to push off. I had rehearsed all the scenarios. I just pushed him away, and pushed him away, and I geared the boat very light, so I could rate higher.
row2k: How long have you been coming to the Head of the Charles, and what do you like about racing here?
Bishop: This is my fourth trip to the head of the Charles. It's such a wonderful regatta, because it's an interesting lake, and of course, a 20-minute race. And the course being very bendy is quite technical. That adds interest too. The first three times I rowed here I definitely lost about nine seconds on the big bend over some of the other scullers who'd been doing it longer than me.
row2k: What have you learned about rowing the course?
Bishop: The trick is to stay out from the boys, don't get too close because the you'll spending your whole time thinking about steering rather than moving the boat. It you stay further out, you actually go faster.
row2k: You rowed in the 70 plus category, how is only your fourth Head of the Charles? Did you row when you were younger?
Bishop: I did. I rowed in the 1974 and '75 Worlds in the UK quad, and in the '76 games in Montreal in the UK quad.
But, I gave up rowing for 20 years. When I was 30 years old I stopped rowing. I took it up again when I was 50. A friend of mine sent me a birthday card saying they play nice tunes on old violins, why don't you come rowing again? It took me about 10 years to get the muscles and fitness back.
Then I discovered I still enjoyed racing. That's when I found myself going to world master's regattas. Then one of my friends said, well, we're going to the Head of the Charles, have a go and see what happens. So, I did.