For the second year running, UWBC senior men were cordially invited to compete in the now internationally prestigious Dresden Rowing Cup. After sampling the usual delights of budget airlines for much of Friday, the crew members found themselves enjoying the sights of Berlin and the various establishments within Dresden Central Station. Hampered by predictable transport delays, the team were eventually reunited in Dresden in the company of our guide Moritz (Big Mo to his friends). After a pleasant meal at Vapianos, the boys headed in for an early night ahead of their first challenge on German soil: a 500-metre head-to-head team erg sprint.
After a gluttonous breakfast, the crew haphazardly made their way towards the location of the erg race. Whilst 500 metres is a relatively short distance by rowing standards, it’s far longer than some had spent on the erg this summer. However, any nerves over the erg were quickly dissipated when learning that the race was on RP3 dynamic ergos, allowing all shortcomings in power to be overcome by astronomically high ratings. After spending some time on the RP3’s (with the six man swearing he pulled a 1:01 split), the teams were drawn against each other.
UWBC were in the third race, and drawn against Zhejiang University, China. After watching the first two heats beset by false starts and technical issues, UWBC somehow had a seamless race, powering through to a provisional first place overall with a team average of 1:22.97, with three races to go. With false starts and technical issues resuming, UWBC fortuitously held on to first, winning pole position for the 5.8k head race on Sunday.
Several hours later it was race day, bringing round an early start for the crew. Practice on the course began at 10am, after some tinkering with the pristine 2015 Empacher given to us for the race. The crew quickly gelled into a slick outfit, almost as if we’d spent the year rowing together. Productive practise session completed, the crew went into lunch in high spirits, confident of a good result later that afternoon.
Oh how wrong we were.
High tide on the Elbe. 9 crews waiting and ready at the start line, blades poised delicately in the calm water awaiting the Starter’s orders. And then the off. A clean start for both ourselves, and Eindhoven in second place, quickly deteriorated into what can only be described as chaos, discord and disarray. Wash from the TV crew’s launch engulfed the boat, consuming 6 of the crew members in its icy clutch. Josh, our 7 man, caught the Elbe’s prize crustacean in the process, skewing our line and tangling us with Eindhoven’s blades.
The latter recovered quickly from this melee, which could not be said for UWBC. Having taken on enough water to drown a fish, the crew set off now in 5th place in pursuit of the field. With a heavy boat and dampened spirits, the next 5km was the longest deadlift session the boys had ever done. Competing against other crews and the cox Jude’s steering, UWBC completed the race in 6th place, taking Hamburg with 800m to go.
What may have initially been feelings of disappointment and frustration soon faded into a more positive reflection of the weekend. The event had been an experience new to many of the crew and we look forward to competing again next year.