Not a bad race I would say. Given that Blaise, the 5-man, was missing and I had to sub for him. I have to admit that I was unable to row as well as I should because I haven't exercised properly for a few weeks, and have had only a single outing since last term. But it was nice to row with this crew once more before leaving college.
In any case. From the boathouse, I came out like a boss wearing just socks on my feet before I realized; the days of Black Prince are over, we are back in Richard Church and I better put those shoes back on before somebody notices.
We paddled all the way to the highway bridge carried gently by Thornton's polite bankparty calls (All love and respect to Thornton). We stayed near the railway bridge for a few minutes while Artin, the 3-man, receives his pre race hug and while I wrap my hands with green tape and thank John Shaw, the bow-man, for providing the tape. Then we set off to the starting line.
We did a complete start sequence with squared blades! And it was a good start. Even though Matt, the 4-man, lost one of his foot-straps and had to row the entire distance with only one secured foot.
A few hundred meters after the start it felt like people had given up already, because the boat speed dropped considerably. Until Alex, the coxswain, said that we were approaching the finish line, and suddenly the boat was going much faster again.
During the race, I quite enjoyed the sight of Maggie M4 behind us getting smaller and smaller and ever so smaller until finally disappearing behind the horizon.
We paddled back to the boathouse, and once there, some crew members were keen on washing the boat, something our crew have not done before (Not me at least), it was an interesting experience, and I loved the part where everybody receives a cold shower simultaneously when we turn the boat over above our heads.
In conclusion, I thank Michael for volunteering to bankparty. I wish we had won something but we weren't lucky enough I'm afraid.
In outings, we had been struggling to ensure that the blades went into and came out of the water fully squared. In the outing immediately before the race, we had done a start with square blades which turned out much better than any we had done feathered, so it was decided that we would go square blades for the start in the race and hope that this would amuse the race officials enough to get a prize.
Our start did in fact turn out quite well (though unfortunately not quite prize-winningly well), and the rhythm throughout the race was much better than in the previous race. Matt at 4 did a very good job of keeping things together when one of his feet came out. When we started feathering, things became messy as had happened in outings. There were also times in the race where the power seemed to drop off, though it did come back when called.
We clearly have more to gain by continuing to work on catching and finishing square when rowing feathered blades - but also I think it is important that as we keep focussing on technical points and rowing with a calmer rhythm we do not lose the underlying racing aggression.
In terms of results, we were 5th in the "College Men's 8 - Mays 4" event and the fastest boat entered under the name "M4" (though Queens' entered 4 men's boats that were faster than us). We were only 6.9 seconds slower than the next FaT boat up by results, though it should be noted that we both had subs.
We love square blades rowing! This was a fun race and it could have gone much worse. True, it could also have gone much better, give or take poppers, footplates, a boat which categorically hates us, and an amusing immediate stroke side corner. Seven seconds off M2 was not for us to sniff at, even if M3 did destroy our time. We rowed (which is at least something) and we learnt that feathering is such a simple, easy action that just about everything in the boat can we shaken up when it's introduced. Luckily this is a problem we sorted out over the following weeks. We also took the convenient opportuntiy to fill our footwells with bricks, in Iain's words. It gave us a taste of our time relative to others in our division, leading to much happiness and celebration. How little we knew.