Winning 4+ cat 'A' final against Army at Master's Henley

M1 chasing Rob Roy in the Bumps - Photo by David Ponting

Ben Redman & Barney Price at the FISA World Masters Regatta

Henley Women's Regatta Club finalists

W1 finishing 26th at Women’s Eights Head of the River Race 

Metropolitan Regatta WIM3 winners

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Royal Regatta

W1 winning Headship in Cambridge Town Bumps

W2 WeHoRR report 2010

W2 do WeHoRR

On a day blessed with glorious sunshine and good racing conditions the lovely ladies of City decamped down to Putney to strut their stuff on the Thames. Jess’ managed to get 3 eights worth of rowers across London without losing anyone (how, given the lack of a pink helium dolphin for us all to follow, remains a mystery), and on arrival we discovered that Gripper and W1 had bagged a prime place for us all to rig. All we had to do was stick our boat together (Easy. W2 always remember to check their nuts.

 Especially those that hold the sections together), get changed and go race. We had plenty of time to prepare- despite the fact that any walk from Chas Newans to Vesta would lead to at least one person talking to someone from another crew.

After a brief moment of panic when bow pair were stuck in the longest toilet queues known to man kind soon passed and by 1.30pm we were ready to boat. A quick run through the race plan and then we would be good to go. Time for some inspirational chat:

I channeled all the big motivational speeches, and was just about to be more inspiring than any scene from Rocky...when...

A bird pooed on Sess's shoulder.

Undeterred we once again got back into our motivational grouping, only to be interrupted by the sight of our club Captain counting firstly that we had nine people (you can tell he’s been coxed by me enough times to not believe in my ability to count), and then checking out our foot ware.

Interruptions over, we finally got through the race plan and got to the most traumatic bit of the day- queuing to boat. With some aggressive walking from bow pair, we managed to follow W1 down to the river and boat promptly.

We had a good row up, relatively uninterrupted and arrived at our marshalling position (complete with tree to hang on to) dead on time. We then had 15mins to eat Haribo and wave at W1, who were marshaled almost directly across from us.

Soon it was time to go- the tops off call came several times (the marshall either seemed confused by the fact we were racing with tech tops or wanted to see a lot more of City W2), and then we span and made our way down to the start.

The plan was simple- go off aggressively, settle and tap it along till Barnes, then keep the strong rhythm to Hammersmith. Hammersmith home we were going to treat like a regatta 2k (yeah, distances aren’t my strong point either)...

Three builds, then the winds and we shoot through Chiswick Bridge. It is aggressive, but it is not together. The commitment is there, but so is a little bit too much excitement and we are fighting the boat, not tapping it along. I'm not helping, I’m far too excited as well (for the first time ever, I appear to have found the stream!). Thank goodness for the experience of our 6 girl: Rach shouts to get it together, and finally as we come towards Barnes we find a rhythm.

Off the bridge and the race begins to click- we are closing quickly on the crew ahead, and as we past the bandstand we find effective length and rhythm. We are rating 33, with oodles of cover and the catches crisp. A lift to keep the speed at Chiswick Pier, and the rowing gets better still. This is quite simply the best the girls have rowed with me coxing, and they are getting more confident with each stroke. The boat is sitting up and running free as we pass the eyot. We lift again and once again the boat speed lifts- and we walk past the crew ahead. Without asking, the boat speed lifts again, each girl working as one as we round the long Hammersmith bend. Just past St Paul’s we lift, and the wheels come of a little. Charlotte leaps on it immediately- "legs and swing"- I make the call and the girls respond.

Coming under Hammersmith and Charlotte and Amy are sitting up tall, reveling in the power that the girls behind are giving. I can see Amy smiling, and as I ask the girls how much more they could give, how much they wanted to be in W1, the response from them is fantastic- with middle four, Rach, Becky, Jen and Sess one again lifting the boat speed, and the bows and the stern lifting with them.

Through Hammersmith and it’s a whole new race. And the girls find another gear. It is choppy past Harrods but Jenna and Becs in the bows don't let us feel it. We lift here, and again at the mile post, hunting down the Mortlake crew ahead. A lift at Barn Elms and then before we know it we are skimming past the black buoy. Rating 34, and we begin the ups to take it home. It must be killing the girls now, but there is no giving up, each one of them digs deeper as we take it up to 37. Each stroke we gain on Mortlake and then it is time for the last 20- the cheers of the city posse on the bank ringing in our ears.

We cross the finish line in a time of 20.41, placing 81st. We've beaten all the Cambridge Colleges, all the town clubs. It is just a shame we weren't a little bit closer to W1, but this is without doubt one of the best crews I have had the pleasure of coxing, and I couldn't have asked for, or been given, anything more than Charlotte, Amy, Rach, Becky, Jen, Sess, Becs and Jenna gave that day.

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