Yesterday I had my first race of the season and it gave me my blogging mojo back!
We went to Soar Head in Loughborough which is a small event about twenty five minutes away that I knew would be a good place to start the season.
We arrived while our coach Trevor and his rowing partner Sid were on the water, a bit confused when they got back to the trailer I said to Sid, “I thought you were in Division 2 with us?”
“We were,” replied Sid. “But Trevor saw a guy we knew we could beat in Division 1 so he phoned up the organisers and told them to change it. Trevor just tells people what to do and they do it.”
Then Trevor chimed in, “I knew if we over took them then we would have won. And we did.” So there you go. Our coach Trevor Rainbow is amazing. Here is a photo of him and Sid racing in Pairs Head that was in Rowing & Regatta magazine:
They were in the magazine because Trevor raced with two fractures in his leg because he is BADASS. After hearing this Sarah and I decided the photo needed jazzing up…
We got on the water and rowed up while Jenni quipped in every now and again going, “The steering seems really off today, bowside power up to get us round this corner!” We joined the clusterfuck at the start (we glided a bit close to a coxed quad and Jenni lamented, “It’s a party and I really shouldn’t have been invited!”) and waited behind a boat from Leicester Rowing Club who were also in our category. We knew that if we could overtake them then we were in a good position but wouldn’t have any real knowledge of where we stood as the other boats we were against were racing in a different division.
For any coxes reading, this was the race course for Soar Head. In England we call this windy as fuck and yes, that is a middle finger of a bend that is only about 300m long.
So we start paddling towards the start, five strokes quarter pressure, five strokes half and then we’re in it cruising along at rate 32 like it’s the easiest thing in the world. We’re gaining steadily on the Leicester crew fifteen metres in front until we get to the second point on the map marked ‘Emergency Access’. Jenni calls bowside pressure but there is only so much more we can give and the corner is too tight. We realise that we are racing with no steering. We easy there before we hit the bank, straighten in a panic and carry on. We overtake a crew from Devil’s Elbow Rowing Club (amazing kit, by the way) but by this point are at the first position marked ‘Bank monitor’. We’re rowing, rowing, rowing, trying to put down enough pressure to get us round this bloody corner and then AH FUCK my blade is stuck in reeds and over my head. The crew we just over took is holding up and crashing towards us, Sarah no longer has her blade and nobody has a clue what’s going on. Somehow we manage to troll* our way out of the situation and over take Devil’s Elbow (overtaking the same boat twice is VERY satisying). We get to another corner and I yell to Jenni behind me, “USE YOUR BODYWEIGHT!” So Jenni leans us around the corner on to the home stretch, somehow we are still only fifteen metres or so behind Leicester Rowing Club and then from the banks we hear Trevor yelling at us! We all had a collective, joyful moment of “It’s Trevor!”, sat up tall, pushed harder and finally Jenni yells, “Why are they stop- Oh! Look! It’s the finish!”
We paddled towards the landing platform and Leicester Rowing Club yelled an unappreciated, “Bad luck girls!” Back on land Jenni gave me the same look that toddlers make when they’re about to cry and I had to employ the technique I learnt through babysitting years ago and try to distract her as quickly as I could, “It could’ve been worse! At least it was only our first race, let’s get some tea!”
Trevor and Sid made us feel much better and we went home in good spirits because hey, the parts where we had been rowing in a straight line had been really good!
After food and a nap I got bored of waiting for results to be posted online so I phoned Loughborough Boat Club and cheekily asked what they were. “IM3 4+? Wait a second… erm… Nottingham and Union won that one.” THAT WAS US!! I phoned Trevor (“Un- fucking- believable!”) and then ran upstairs to tell Sarah who danced around in a circle. What I didn’t do was tell the rest of the girls…
Later than evening we had a posh Alumni Dinner with over a hundred members of the club, so I cruelly decided to keep the results a secret until awards were announced after the dinner. All evening I told anyone who asked that unfortunately, the results hadn’t been posted yet. I gave out my awards and then let everyone know that we had in fact come first at the race. Jenni gasped audibly and I heard a little screeched from Rebecca and Daisy’s table while everyone clapped. It was perfect.
*Troll rowing is Sarah’s invention. It means rowing horrifically but with quite a lot of power e.g. “We trolled our way down that course.”