The big day that we have been training for all term has finally arrived! The pre-race meet was filled with lots of nerves, from my part at least. A few minutes of warm ups were done on the ergs before braving the foul-turning weather. The forecast called for a high of 9C, but a storm rolled in dropping the temperature down to 3C with a wind chill down to freezing as we were rowing.
The final pre-race chats were made, covering the race plan and a few technique points to be aware as we head off to the marshaling area (waiting area). Final comments were made to remind us that we are prepared and to rely on everything that we had worked on during the early morning outings and evening erg sessions over the last 8 weeks. As we pushed off, all the joking and lightheartedness stopped until we stepped out of the boat at the marshaling area.
Once we were out and waiting, we began sizing up the competition, chuckling how one group struggled to park their boat, wondering how others were going to fare against surrounding foes, eventually reminding ourselves that none of that mattered and that we needed to focus inwards not outwards. Again, as we pushed off to line up at the starting statiins, to get our two practice starts, all tom-foolery ended to focus at the task we had at had: catching Churchill M2 before they caught First and Third M3 or before Peterhouse M2 catches us.
Making it to the starting station initiated this pre-race ritual we learned about: parking the boat, getting out to de-kit into our race outfits, gathering around for a final chat. On the sound of the 4 minute cannon, we entered the boat; at the one minute cannon, we settled in and finished performing the final checks on our equipment; at twenty seconds left on the stopwatch, we were pushed out and bow pair were told to take taps as needed as the final countdown came; BANG, go!
It wasn’t our best start, or mine in particular. The weather was playing a real factor here, causing me to miss water and whiff for a three of the first twenty strokes, each time I fought to get back in time with the crew. We could see Peterhouse gain a little on us, which made us fight harder, push stronger, breathe deeper. As we quickly learned how many distractions there are on the course, we all doubled down and settled in to our pace, pressing the boat away from us on this mid-afternoon race. We quickly closed in on churchill in between the first and second corner, leaving peterhouse far behind, until finally making contact. A quick tap and I waited for the call to hold the boat up to no avail. Rowing on, we make contact a second time with a large thud and larger resistance, much like moving a second boat…
We thought we had them, but upon further examination, we found that we were at the end of a 4 boat pileup. Confused and concerned we may have had to row on, we braced ourselves for a standing start to escape the boat closing in behind us, who’s distance was hidden by the corner. Eventually we were called to row off to the side with no indication on what the judges decision was.
These were tense moments. We sat in fury, rage, and exhaustion as we pleaded to the coaches, our only outlet, that we got them. It was only after we buckled down and begun rowing how that the official decision came in that Fat bumped Claire Hall and we were awarded a techical bump because we were overlapping churchill as they were impeded by the newly stationary boats. We were lucky, and learned a valuable lesson…
Bumps is not a fair race.
We lucked out today, getting the better end of a call. We grabbed our shrubbery and rowed home, celebrating our hard earned luck.
Our bank party did their best to cheer us on, but due to various technical difficulties, we failed to capture and save video footage of the race… blame the weather and batteries, we didn’t get anything.