Tag Archives: competitive

Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 5

22 Apr

Today was the last day of camp!

A slight change of plans to the day, as the coaches wanted to get one trailer of boats back to the club as early as possible, so after breakfast, and once packed we all headed to the club. Here we were split into groups for two outings.

Those not on the water first thing would be derigging boats for the trailer.
I went out in the first outing with the first 8, as bow – my usual seat in that crew!

Everyone was feeling pretty exhausted, and many had aches and pains, so the outing was only about an hour long. We started off with practicing of racing starts, which seemed to go quite smoothly, and we were able to pick up speed pretty quickly. Our cox, Caroline, then tried a routine of moving through the different stroke lengths, but square bladed. Starting with the full stroke, down to three quarters, half, a quarter, arms and bodies and then just arms – then building it back up the other way.
The balance was pretty good, given we were doing it as all 8, whereas the normal routine is done just with stern four or bow four at a time.

Once Caroline was happy with how we were doing, she then took it down to rowing in sixes so that we could power stroke back up to the club.
It was a good outing, and so a good end to a very long weekend of rowing!!

After that we got involved with the derigging, as one trailer was sent off with a few from the squad to unload and rig back at the club.

Given that the work was split in half as half the squad was busy, we finally finished tying on the last boats at 3pm, and so were able to get on the coach back to London an hour earlier than planned.

It only took 3 hours once back at the club to rig the boats back up and get them back to their rightful homes!

A few from the squad went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant – those clever enough to have booked the Tuesday off work! – however along with those that hadn’t, I headed off home to unpack and have an early night!

Here’s to next year’s Spring Camp!

(Fingers crossed, as an intermediate, rather than a novice!)


Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 4

21 Apr

With little warning, today’s session was off with a boom!

The coaches decided that we would be doing seat racing, as this is something we need to get used to. (see Terminology for seat racing).

Without realising, the seat racing took up a good two hours worth of on-the-water time. We swapped out all but two members of our boat, with the sixth race being the last, in which stern pair were both swapped over.

The sun was hidden by cloud for most of this, and as it was flat out racing we were all soaked by the end of it!!

The coaches let us dry off and change, before giving us a post race chat. They explained the reason for seat racing
squad races, and the fact that race crews can change as late as the night before a race – with as many as 50% of the seats changing! The faces at that point suddenly dropped as realisation kicked in. Although it is meant to be a friendly and social club, Thames do focus on the competition – therefore for racing crews is also competitive.

After all the drama of the seat racing, and once everyone had warmed up again we got on to the mixed boat racing.


Squad Racing



Names were written on strips of paper and put into ‘hats’ – aka small containers found lying around the club!

Races were drawn across the different boat sizes, depending on who had trained in what prior to Sunday. Therefore crews were mixed – boys and girls from any of the crews. It was also a first opportunity for some to race in the single sculls.

I was picked for one eights race, and watched the rest. Then just as we thought the racing was over, one of the girls shot up into the crewroom to call the girls back down. It turned out that the coaches and coxes on camp had decided to form a crew and wanted to race!

Noone knows if the coaches had been preparing for this in secret, or if it was a last minute idea, but my crew and I were exhausted after all the mornings racing and weren’t particularly prepares for another race, let alone against ex-rowers!
Turned out that it was to be the second women’s eight, the second men’s eight and a coach/cox eight.

We all lined up, staring out the opposition, and got our game faces on!
Our squad were marshalling and gave the orders. ‘Ready? Attention Thames … Go!’

About twenty strokes in, I felt a bang on my blade and turned to see the coaches’ boat had veered right into us! As I was about to take a stroke, the other crew were mid-stroke which forced my blade forward and I almost hit my shins.
Lots of shouting from the crews followed – the expected drama from a bunch of coaches and coxes!

Anyway, we restarted the race, although due to the water and the inability amongst the three boats to line up efficiently enough, the race was restarted with the boys boat ahead and waiting for our girls boat and the coaches boat to row by and join the race. As a result, it wasn’t a particularly long race – probably 1200m! The boys boat finished far ahead of us – but they may have had a slight head start as to when they joined the race! Our girls’ boat came second, beating the coaches by about three seats! There were loud cheers from the squad, for beating the coaches – the coaches of course blamed it on a crab or two that they’d caught, but they should know better – ‘tap down’!

Races carried on after that till about 6, with lots more small boat racing, therefore those of us not racing went up in to the club house to dry off and warm up.

After we finished off at the club, we headed to the local pub for a squad dinner. The coaches had arranged for us to eat at The Swan in Pangbourne – just a couple of houses away from the club. We had a three course meal here – Jon arrived a little later and came round the tables to tell everyone we were allowed a drink this time, so the girls and I on our table shared a bottle of red with our meal – we didn’t need any more than that, as our tolerance levels are pretty low given the amount of training we’ve done in the past few weeks, regardless of the amount of carbs consumed in the past 24 hours!

It was a really lovely evening, and a nice end to another long day! Once we’d got the train back to the hostel, it was gone 10pm, so pretty much straight up to our rooms and off to bed ready for the last day!

(With the compulsory dorm-room chat before bed, of course!)

Race Hard : Women’s Head of the River – part 5

9 Mar

And so the results are out!

Women’s Head of the River (WeHoRR) 2013 Results

We missed out on winning the Women’s Novice category by just 16 seconds, behind winners Lea!

As summarised by Jon, our boat per category came …

  • Novice club – 2nd out of 39
  • Novice academic – 3rd (by 0.2 of a second) out of 58
  • Novice combined – 4th (again by 0.2 of a second) out of 97
  • IM3 – 13th out of 110
  • IM2 – 16th out of 30

And overall, 71st out of 302 boats, in an international competition with competitors travelling from all over Europe to take part – not bad going given that we’ve been training for less than !

We also managed to beat Thames’ own IM3 crew, therefore coming 4th out of 8 Thames crews!

Very exciting stuff, and very much looking forward to the summer racing!


I just need to fight off this rotten cough before then, and get myself fighting fit!

Henley 2013 …

Race Hard : Women’s Head of the River – part 4

9 Mar

We did it!

Just got back in to the club, and feeling pretty good!

The race itself went well. The marshalling seemed to go on for ages, however once we got in to position to start, it was a quick turnaround and we were off.


Chiswick Bridge to Barnes Bridge

This seemed to go ever so quickly – it felt really smooth, we seemed to be in time with each other, and it didn’t take long to get the rating up.

The water was good, and the conditions were great – it was fairly mild, which made life easier. I think we were rating 28-30.


Barnes Bridge to Hammersmith Bridge

Compared to the Hammersmith Head, the water was much less choppy, and with Marie’s motivation, this part of the race seemed to go much quicker than we’d feared!

There did feel a brief drop in momentum, however I think this is more to do with the fact we’d got into a consistent rhythm, having got the initial burst of excitement and adrenalin out at the start.


Hammersmith Bridge to Putney Bridge

The cheers from Hammersmith did just as we’d hoped! Fresh legs for the last burst of the race.

Marie kept up the inspirational talk, and as we got towards Harrods, she told us how proud she was of us, and how well we were doing. The pain was starting to set in here, however the adrenalin was enough to keep the momentum, and I believe we even sped up at this point!

As we got level with the club, we could hear the cheers from the balcony, and you could feel the pace of the boat pick up another peg or two. The last 30 strokes were hard, and Marie called for us to empty the tanks and give it everything we had, and we definitely did that!


Despite us catching 3 crabs over the course of the race, I think we did pretty well. As we pulled up by the club, the coaches came over with our wellies and helped us out, and said we looked like we were moving nicely down the home straight. Marie told us we could walk out of the boat with our heads held high, that she was proud of our performance, and that she knew we’d given it our all.

A proud moment – an emotional release

I think we all had a little cry as we came through under Putney Bridge.

It’s quite surprising the release of emotion you feel at the end of a race. Six months of training were poured into that race, and so crossing the finish line was a big relief – the tension of the day was over, all the pressure we had felt as a crew was gone as there was nothing more we could do, and our bodies could finally relax.

It was a great feeling stepping out of the boat – pride from having rowed well, and rowed hard (except for the feeling of cramp in my calf as I initially tried to stand up!) – and being able to confidently say that we’d given it everything.

Let’s see how we do in the results!

Fingers crossed, we should find out before the end of the night! … 🙂

Race Hard : Women’s Head of the River – part 3

9 Mar

Race Plan

So, we huddle round the crew table in the main hall, and Marie gets out her map of the river.

She talks us through her plan, and the key points she wants to use to help us along the route.

  • Barnes Bridge is the first point – this first stretch is fairly easy, and the water is fairly quick running
  • Chiswick Eyot, second – this is just before the bend round to Hammersmith Bridge. This is one of the hardest parts of the course – the river is at it’s widest here, and it’s a long stretch from Barnes bridge round to Hammersmith, so Marie will have to make sure we keep focussed, and keep the power on as we get to the bend
  • Hammersmith Bridge, the third point, and this is where the race restarts. Fresh legs from here, as we’re used to rowing from Hammsmith to the club, so the distance is ingrained, and having people cheering on the bridge should be enough for us to give a fresh push
  • the Milepost – this is the marker for the last mile to the finish! Another little push from here onto the next point,
  • Fulham Football Club – close to home, and more than halfway between Hammersmith Bridge and the finish
  • TRC – family and friends will be gathered out here, to give us the very last push to the finish – we need to work from the cheers, and power home to the finish
  • Putney Pier – the finish, but we won’t take the power off until we reach Putney Bridge


That’s the game plan … let’s see how it goes!



Race Hard : Women’s Head of the River – part 2

9 Mar

Race Prep

Just back in from our outing in Shackleton, and the crew decision is to stick with it for the race!

It was decided that despite the sensitivity to balance and the lack of practice in it to this point, the difference in weight and the ability to get the rate up quicker far outweighs the Noel. Plus, it looks pretty slick! 😉

Now time to relax and prep – 80% of the prep for a race is psychological.

The clubhouse is full – there’s 4 Novice crews racing today from our squad, plus 3 Intermediate crews and a Masters crew. That’s just TRCs contribution to the bodies in the building! There are also several other clubs that have been camping overnight in the gym, and are using the facilities to prep for the race. It’s manic here! Finding a space to relax and mentally prepare could be interesting!

Race Hard : Women’s Head of the River

9 Mar

Just on my way to the club for our last outing to test out the ‘black ninja’ – also known as Shackleton – before the big race …


but at the same time, incredibly, incredibly excited! 🙂

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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