With a 4:50am pickup, the Novice Women made their way up to Nottingham with sleepy eyes, but eager spirits, to compete in our first ever regatta. Little did we know that not one of our boats would complete in more than just the initial time-trial…
On Sunday, the NW ‘s first day at BUCS, eight girls took to the water in two IVs. With an early 8:20am time-trial, the boats were rigged and checked with no time to waste, and the girls were straight out on the water shortly after arrival. This was a blessing in disguise since the early start meant the water conditions were not bad at all. Yet, once on the water, the 2ndIV did come to the realisation that they had accidentally taken the mens blades (easily done when tired?) Luckily this did not cause any major issue because the reliable Scott fetched them as soon as the girls had finished the race.
The 1st IV faced quite a challenging row. Injury and necessary substitution meant that the crew had not had the chance to train in the boat together. Confidence was further knocked by a series of unfortunate events that lead the girls rowing in the Eton, with two less-than-ideal seats. Furthermore, due to slight confusion regarding the whereabouts of the start line, the girls were initially thrown off focus by starting the time-trial too slow, crossing the start line at only rate 20. There was panic in the boat when the girls acknowledged that they should be at full pressure and a much higher rate, and regrettably they weren’t able to fully recover full strength.
Overall the girls were rather disappointed with their performance, since the boat was quite unbalanced, and their slow time meant elimination. Nonetheless, when things go a bit tits up, there are always lessons to be learnt, and therefore it was a huge learning experience, and the girls came away determined to train harder and work together to ensure they smash it next time.
Despite also being eliminated, I am happy to report that the 2nd IV had fair more successful row, achieving a time 20 seconds faster than that of the 1st IV in their trial. Their performance was especially impressive considering two of the girls had never raced before, and the crew has all only started rowing in a IV the previous week on our training camp in Tilburg.
Paddling up to the start line, the girls became aware that bow seat did not slide properly. This was rather stressful for poor Annabel, but unfortunately as there wasn’t a lot they could do about it, so the crew showed perseverance and made do. Even so, the paddle up was solid and with correct positioning – a major improvement on behalf of the Cox from our last experience in marshalling at WEHoRR. The girls reported that they had a super smooth race and felt that they had a really good run, with a solid rate from stroke (nice one Andrea!). The whole crew agreed that the cox (Shaan) was amazing, keeping them strong and together, and giving them that extra push when needed to help them maintain. Therefore, regardless of being eliminated, the girls were pleased with their performance, and as were the rest of the squad! (Well done girls!)
Monday morning, bright and early – it was now time for the NW two VIIIs to show BUCS what we’ve got…or not quite. Seemingly cursed with awful weather (talk about a WEHoRR throwback), both crews really struggled during their time-trials. Again, injury meant both crews had substitutions, who did extremely well, filling in at the very last minute, and have our highest gratitude for making us eligible to race. (Thank you Andrea, Kate and Annabel!)
The 1st VIII, an unfamiliar crew, were first up in the time-trial. Facing extremely tough conditions and a very choppy water, the girls really struggled to feather the blade properly, and apply the necessary power. This also led to a couple of long crabs being caught (happens to the best of us *sigh*), which inevitably slowed the crew down. Yet, nonetheless the boat was pretty stable and the girls kept a good pace. It was impressive how fast they picked up setting the balance of the boat. Due to facing conditions they had never raced in before, despite only qualifying for the F final, the girls came off the water smiling for having actually completely the time-trial in one piece.
Much to their horror, on arrival the 2nd VIII were informed that they were to be rowing in the men Simms, and not their beloved Alan, the boat in which they had trained in for BUCS at Tilburg. The inability to move the bigfoot footplates of the boat, and the general sadness of this hefty boat meant that the girls took to the water with questionable optimism. Facing the same conditions as the 1st VIII, their row was tough to say the least! Stroke caught a crab at the start, yet her super speedy recovery meant little speed was lost, the boat just took longer to build up the rate and power. I think it is fair to say that the greatest challenge was faced by myself (seat 7), as not only was my footplate not properly attached to the boat, but the whole rigger became unattached during the time-trial which made rowing rather difficult indeed (and yes it was tightened before hand). To make matters worse, the boat was also down to bow side the entire way! Having said this, the whole crew was absolute ecstatic about their performance, which would have been nowhere near as strong if it wasn’t for our Cox’s amazing motivation (yes, Shaan!). The 2nd VIII, with a time trial 24 seconds faster than the 1st VIII, qualified for the E final, and considering the situation, the girls were all over the moon!
Unfortunately, due to shocking weather, all minor finals were cancelled, so neither 1st or 2nd crew got to actually race in a regatta. However, we stayed around, happy to watch and support of the SM quad in the A final. All in all, it was a good first experience at a large scale regatta. Lessons have been learnt by all, and now the squad is excited for our return to Nottingham next week, to hopefully improve from this performance quite considerably!