A group of ageing rowers who nicknamed themselves The Crustaceans have seen off competition to win a medal in a European regatta.
Edinburgh solicitor Alasdair Docwra and his crew, who have an average age of 58, are celebrating after winning bronze in a top rowing event in Italy – 38 years after the British team was originally formed.
While a student of Christ’s College in Cambridge, Mr Docwra – a partner with Capital law firm Morisons – was a member of a nine-strong rowing team which successfully competed from 1976 until 1978.
But after graduation the team went their separate ways, when work inevitably took over and members set up home in different locations around the UK.
However, three years ago the original team reunited and started training, calling themselves The Crustaceans after an infamous college drinking club.
And they jumped at the chance to compete in a prestigious regatta in the Bay of Naples last week.
Since 1901, C.R.V Italia, a prominent rowing and sailing club, has hosted the Coppa Lysistrata event.
Featuring different categories, the team decided to enter the Veteran VIII, for oarsmen over the age of 40.
Despite The Crustaceans’ age, the team worked hard to cover the 1000-metre course, demonstrating their determination to reach the podium during their first international event.
They clinched the bronze medal, with Italian crews pipping them to the post to win the gold and silver medals.
Mr Docwra, head of the family law team at Morisons, said: “The whole experience was amazing. The Italians row a slightly different boat to the kind that we are used to and we had to spend three days training, so to be placed third was really special.
“It’s the first time we’ve been placed in an overseas regatta, despite UK success.
“We’re delighted – especially after training together for so many years after we first formed back in the Seventies, when we were all a bit fresher.”
He said that the crew was just as keen to compete, despite several medical ailments as age takes its toll.
And the group – bow Jeremy Preddy, Paul Barton, Guy Whittaker, Bill Aldridge, Carey Wolfe, Andrew Jordan, stroke Rick Nelson and cox Brains Dallman – are enjoying a more mature camaraderie in comparison with the high jinx they got up to at university.
Mr Docwra added: “When we compete these days it is rather good that our various wives and girlfriends come with us to events. Considering that we are becoming relatively elderly, and that we have various medical issues between us – I have a dodgy back and a replacement hip and others within the crew have similar afflictions – the team that travel with us are of great benefit as amongst them we have an internationally renowned neurosurgeon, an ear nose and throat surgeon, two general practitioners, and a consultant haematologist.”
Spurred on by their win, the team is planning a busy racing programme for the new season which starts in September, including an event in Dublin.