Newnham Head was W2's first race of term, and my first as crew captain.
We'd trained hard for the event (a whole 3 outings), however that training was mostly focused on paddling well and staying together. We'd never rated above 22 as a crew, and never had that combination of 9 people in the boat before.
I was therefore nervous before the race, worrying about the million things that could go wrong. Misplacing my camcard and locking myself out of the boathouse seemed to be a bad omen.
We did our normal warm up on the ergs, and the 10 stroke burst there went well enough that we decided to just do a direct repeat of that as our start.
As we rowed down from marshalling to the lock we did a couple of burst on the reach which were really well together.
Spirits were high as we waited for our turn to race.
It was a rolling start, and I got a bit excited (or optimistic about our boat speed) and called for the start sequence too soon. We ended up being at full speed several strokes before crossing the line (sorry), but crossed the start line at rate 28 and immediately went up another 2 to 30.
We settled on a very comfortable rate 30, as Bomber rejoined us having been watching our M3 crew higher up the division. We flew along first post reach, before slicing through the corner on a perfect line.
We pushed out of each corner, with Bomber calling the line he wanted us steering and telling us which bits of our technique needed attention.
I remember thinking 'awesome, more than half way there' in the gut, and then we got to the plough and I thought 'actually maybe this is half way', a thought repeated in ditton.
Wherever the half way point on the course was, we came out of ditton and knew we had only a few short minutes to go.
We tried to push to each successive landmark, and managed to hold the boatspeed high.
As we passed the railings I made the executive leadership decision that we could go faster, and yelled for an up-2 and a final sprint.
The crew responded really well and we flew in towards the railway bridge.
Our bank party called the last 15 strokes and timed it perfectly which is always a nice bonus.
We paddled back home ecstatic, and discovered that we'd come 8th in our division. This is a phenomenal result given that we're 15th in the division in Bumps, and we beat the boat chasing us by 30 seconds.
As a crew we'd like to thank
- Laila for kindly subbing in and tolerating the giant cloud of water my blade dumped on her head every other stroke (sorry)
- Zara for kindly subbing in and racing for a second time in one day on different sides of the boat
- Andrew for bank partying us, supporting us, and carrying our giant pile of stuff
- Bomber for his coaching, encouragement and bank steering
I’m not sure if I can claim I was happy to be agreeing to row with W2 at the joint W1-W2 crew hall the night before, but given I had been written down as ‘dumb enough to race twice in a day’ a week before, I probably should have seen it coming. At no point between the two races did I feel warm, except when I resorted to doing bursts on an erg at 20 splits faster than my 2k pace to try and convince my body that the boathouse wasn’t freezing.
The paddle down to Baitsbite was invaluable, mostly because there were two subs in the crew and I needed to remember how to row strokeside after a whole two weeks rowing bowside. There was some anxiety that the crew had never gone above rate 22 together, but the bursts on the way to the start were very solid and gave the crew a lot of confidence.
Starting the race Charlotte settled into a very solid rate of about 30 and the boat felt stable as we powered through the course, starting and finishing strong- giving very positive signs for the upcoming bumps campaign that will start with the getting on race.
I will concede that it was worth racing twice, even if I have never felt so cold for so long, and I wish W2 the very best of luck in the getting on race and then bumps afterwards. I’d like to thank Rosie for talking me into this, not that I take much convincing and Andrew for bankparting and bringing me coffee in-between races.