Race Hard : Hammersmith Ladies’ Head Race – Part 3

25 Feb


I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but my arms ache!

Rowing is all about the legs, but with conditions like those we had today, it was harsh out there!

The row to the start line:
As we left the club and headed to Putney to turn, we rowed past last week’s rivals London, and gave them a friendly yet competitive smile!
I was keeping an eye on them as we made our way to the marshalling area!

This felt like forever!
Marshalling is when you are basically waiting for your turn to start in the race. This race had 110 boats, and we were 73rd, therefore there were a fair few boats ahead of us to wait for!

The idea is that a boat should start every 10 seconds – it’s a time trial. However in conditions like that, with a strong stream and winds, boats often get pushed around and getting in to position to start the race can be awkward when navigating other stray boats!

I think we were sat there for at least half an hour. Frustratingly, all that warmth built up on the row down soon disappears, and we found ourselves sat waiting with snowing falling down around us!
To keep us from floating off and getting in the way, 2-seat; Hannah and I were left to hang onto a tree by the bank!

The race:
So after a long enough period of marshalling, we were told to get into place and so started the maneuver to get up to the start line.

Prior to the race we’d had a few problems with our cox box – a mic that the cox wears and it connects to the speakers in the boat so we can all hear the commands.
Before the race we were told we had been given a brand new cox box, and that we should be problem free … haha!

We turned the boat, and our cox Marie announced ‘attention all crew … Go!’ – this was the call for us to build up our pace to the starting line, as time trials are done with a rolling start.

We were building up, and the balance and speed were all coming together with Marie’s efforts to get our momentum moving, however just as we got level with the race start officials and heard them shouting boat 73 to start, the cox box died!!

Being at the back of the boat – the furthest from the cox I couldn’t tell what was going on! I thought I could hearing Marie talking, but didn’t know whether we were having speaker issues, or if it was simply her new tactic for racing?! We thought perhaps she’d decided to stay quiet to let us focus and see how we do without!!

Those couple of minutes though before the box was working again, felt like the longest minutes ever! It’s funny how much you come to rely on certain people, and the way we’ve been trained we’re very much programmed to act, not think!

Anyway, once we got Marie back on our case, we got our heads down and got on with the race.

The stretch from Chiswick Bridge to Barnes Bridge felt great. We were all in time, and the boat was moving at a great pace. However as soon as we got the other side of Barnes Bridge, it was like someone had put the brakes on, and the water was awful. It was so choppy, with waves smacking hard against the boat. The hardest part about rowing in choppy water is trying to get your blade in without catching crabs – which is why my arms ache today!

We kept moving as best we could, but it was a struggle. Frustratingly, prior to the bridge, Marie had called that we were only a boat length and a half from London’s boat. Obviously keeping eyes in the boat, and facing away from the opposition we had to rely on Marie’s calls to be able to work out how close we were, and if they were getting away from us.

Our aim was to beat London, having beaten them 3/3 times the Sunday before, and obviously to win would be great, but given the definite change in pace as we hit the rough water, it’s hard to tell how we did. We’ll just have to wait for the results to come out later … TENSE!


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