2nd of 4 crews
With Coker trying to race with the lightweights, we were racing with both Gonzalo and me in the boat prior to final selection. From what I remember of the heat, we were leading reasonably happily at 1500, before disagreements in the last 500 about whether racing for the win was worthwhile or whether we should wind down with our place in the final secure. The result was parts of the crew going for one strategy and other parts going for the other, before shouting about it after crossing the line.
It was a typical cross-windy day at Dorney, and so we carefully backed onto the stakeboat at quite an angle, and then sat there tapping for ages while Jesus spectacularly failed to attach.
We went off the start quite nicely, although I was a bit confused about why Natasha had us sat on the buoyline for ages. Apparently she was even more confused, as the rudder was entirely unresponsive. In light of the situation, it seems a bit remarkable that we made it to the 750m mark in more or less a straight line.
At that point, however, we started veering into the lane to our left, containing Jesus, who with a fast start were half a length up on us and in second (I think?). We blade clashed with them, got shouted at by an (understandably) angry Jesus cox, and headed off away from them once Natasha called for some of bowside to drop out. We veered a couple of lanes to bowside, then veered leftwards again and hit Jesus again, still only half a length down. After extricating ourselves we stopped in disarray and allowed the race to continue before being given a talking to by the umpire.
The umpire at this point attempted to stop the race and order a rerow as we had somewhat obstructed Jesus. Unfortunately all of the crews ignored the umpire and continued to the finish line, where they were told they needed to go to back to the start to rerow. With the regatta substantially delayed by the wind, King's Chester (who would probably have won even without our assistance) decided to go home and the rerow took place without them.
When we made it to the landing stage and got the boat out, it turned out the rudder had sheered off at the hull. The conclusions we came to were that we must have snagged a buoyline and damaged the rudder pin while reversing across lanes onto the stakeboats, and that when Natasha had to steer to bring us straight after a wobble in the start the rudder gave up and sheered off.
Personally, I was quite surprised by how difficult it was to keep straight once we'd lost the rudder, even paddling back to the landing stages. As soon as I realised something was up with the steering, I started giving steering calls to Matt and Tom in an attempt to pressure steer; I would back us to stay in lane in a rudderless 4-, if not manage to stay straight. The dramatic ineffectiveness of this makes it seem likely that the rudder is acting as a large part of the fin when there, so the eight was very unstable with just its Dunleavy-modified fin to guide it.
A disappointing end to the day, but encouraging speed for the brief periods we were making use of it.