With exams finally over, we packed the car for the now all too familiar journey down south. Our destination this time, Reading regatta.
In the weeks leading up to this training intensity had increased and crew selection had, and still was being debated, all in preparation for the season finale of Henley Women’s Regatta in just one weeks time. If we wanted our boat to go, this was the weekend to prove it.
The conversation on the journey down and at our accommodation, was on anything other than rowing but come Saturday morning and our arrival at the river, the habitual routine of race prep began. Being new to rowing this year meant I had never heard of a rigger jigger before, but now I was rather skilled with mine and similar to everyone else, I kept one eye on it at all times as they have a habit of “wandering off”!
Once boats were sorted, we settled down to watch some of the other events as for once we weren’t one of the first races, and to admire the club BBQ and gazebo. When the captain gathered us together for a team talk and warm up, it was evident tensions were running high, but now was not the time to dwell on the result of previous races. We talked, ran, talked some more and then it was time to race.
The row up gave us a chance to get used to the different blades we were using while ours were getting repaired for next weekend, and have a proper look at the course. We had become accustomed to racing on multi lane lakes but now we were going head to head on a narrow and bendy river. We had spent months training over 2km and now the race would only be 1500m. All I can remember from the race is longing to catch sight of the other boat. The cox was pushing us, the crowd was trying to lift us but before we knew it the race was over – we had lost.
When we got off the water and had sorted the boat, the message from the debrief was clear, tomorrow is another race and take something from today to fix for tomorrow. Another personal learning point, which to most people and normally myself is pretty obvious, is that the combination of sun cream on your hands and water, definitely does not help you grip a handle! The day finished on a high though, watching the women’s first 8 compete in a final and then the men’s first 8 win theirs.
24 hours later we were back having another team talk, preparing the boat and heading down to the river again. Warm up was similar but the course this time was 1100m. I couldn’t tell you much from the race other than they were next to us for most of it. You are not meant to look out of the boat but when they are next to you all you want to see is who is ahead. They would push and we would match it and this went on until the end, when they had more left in them. While the result was the same as the day before, you could argue it was actually completely different.
Having a proper head to head race just before Henley gave us the focus for the week ahead; we need a finish! On the journey home we discussed the past few days but thoughts quickly turned to next week. Now was not the time panic, no fitness regime could make vast improvement and to quote the coach from camp; ‘You need to decide if you are the chicken or the pig, when thinking about breakfast’. Can you produce something and survive or are you going to end up as bacon?
Sarah Baird is a member of the Novice Women’s squad, and started rowing at MUBC in September 2014 she competed in IM3 8+ on the Saturday and Sunday of Reading Regatta.
Reading Regatta was on the weekend of the 14/15th of June, with wins for MUBC in open Novice and Elite 1x (Jake Brown and Sam Thornton) on the Sunday and the open IM2 8+ on the Saturday.