Saturday, 14 September 2013

Worcester Regatta 2013

Another regatta, another early start for the women’s IM3.4+ (Sarah, Kat, Liz and Laura) and ‘the Gods’ (Mark, Chris, Andy and Vince, MasC.4+) – as we headed to Worcester with dreams of glory, and pots, and pots of glory!

The Gods’ race was an early one, so we sprang into action rigging Jolly Roger almost as soon as we arrived. I say we… Sarah and Liz might have had a little rest in the boot of Mark’s car, just so the others wouldn’t have to – very comfortable!

God Group huddle to talk race strategy

It wasn’t long before the Gods were on the water with Laura coxing, while Sarah, Kat and Liz were Minerva’s pom-pom wielding cheerleaders, shouting encouragement between bites of delicious bacon bap (possibly the best we’ve had all season).
It was an exciting race as the two crews drew closer to where we were standing just before the finish line.  They were neck and neck as they approached, but a sudden burst of speed and power carried Hereford over the line to win by just two feet.

Determined not to let such a close defeat get them down, the Gods safely stowed Jolly back on the trailer and commenced their post-race ritual –a massive group hug into which Laura disappeared completely! She emerged looking rather flustered to help us rig Flavers (as Flaviae is affectionately known) and we all headed to – you guessed it – the bar.
It was a long and agonising wait for the women, whose first race wasn’t for another four hours. We spent the time constructively – discussing fundraising for our exciting new facilities, gossiping and using the theme from ‘Rosie and Jim’ to get our body swing in sync every time a canal boat made its cumbersome way down the course.  Just as it was time to start our warm-up, Sarah found Worcester Regatta’s cutest dog, and for a few short minutes, it really did look like we had lost our stroke to puppy love!

As the Gods prepared to take on pom-pom and coxing duty, Andy led us in a Benny Hill-style warm up, jogging around the racecourse and posing at a rather opportune moment as we stretched.

Oh very funny Andy!
After badgering our opposition, Hereford’s ‘A’ crew, towards boat-checking we ended up waiting for what seemed forever on the start line, as a rescue boat slowly chugged up and down the course innumerable times! Kudos must go to Mark at this point, whose Zen in the coxswain’s seat kept us calm and confident while we waited.

After the longest day ever and a wait that seemed eternal, the starter finally called attention and all of a sudden we were off. A decent start gave us a lead from the outset, which we consolidated by pushing hard in the second quarter. It was a tough race, but we wanted it more than they did. Putting everything we had into it, we held our lead to the end to win by half a length!

Coughing and wheezing (quite literally!) we somehow managed to get the boat off the water and made our way back to the trailer to stretch, refuel and mentally prepare for the next one – the final. We barely had enough time for a pep-talk from the Gods/cheerleaders before we were again badgering our opposition to get ready. It was a third race for Minerva, against our one and only opponent of the day – Hereford RC, this time their women’s ‘B’ crew…
Honestly, I can’t remember what happened in this race, but it hurt. Hereford B took the lead off the start and held it against us. As hard as we tried, as much as we wanted those pots, it wasn’t to be, and we flew over the finish line a ‘generous’ third of a length behind our opponents.

And with that, Regatta Season has drawn to a close.

Whilst I have command of a public forum, I’d like to say an enormous thank you to everybody who has worked so hard to get us all to our races. To our incredible coaches for their commitment to training us – bad days and good, in triumph and rowtastrophe – to our fantastic squad captains, to our team manager for sorting out all the entries, to everybody who has driven the trailer, helped load boats, bought cups of tea and pints of beer, barbequed, provided transport and entertainment, and to everyone who has screamed themselves hoarse to help a Minerva boat across the finish line…

Of course, I can’t end this blog without adding a personal thank you to my own crew – we’ll ‘ave ‘em next summer, we’ve got some scores to settle!!

And in the meantime, here’s to the Heads!


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