I raced at the Loughborough Regatta this Saturday just gone. It was my first experience of multi-lane rowing. Although my first race of the day was in the Mens Senior 2 coxed 4s, where there were only 2 crews racing anyway.
We were racing Belfast and despite them being quite a bit older than us, even than me at 36 years old, they were quick. In fact they pulled away from us as the start, which we fluffed up. We didn’t panic to get back to them, our cox reassured us that we still had them. So, we settled into a really good rhythm and gradually pulled them back. By the 500m mark (of the 1000m course) we had taken the lead. But the other crew didn’t panic either. I think we managed to build a lead of about a length. At the 250m to go mark they started to make their move and gradually came back at us. With 100m to go we were still in the lead but not by much, our cox made a call for 10 big strokes, but we were pretty much flat out already. With about 25m to go the other crew started to take a lead on us, we tried to respond but, I think, in the wrong way. Our rate went up and subsequently the technique suffered.
We lost by 9/10ths of a second. In hindsight, if we had kept the rate the same and lengthened out I think we would have held on for a win. It was slightly embarrassing at the time to lose in that way to a crew of older guys, the average age was probably in the 50s. More so because we were all exhausted and they seemed, comparatively, hardly out of breath. Still, it was a good race and we rowed well to even stay in contention with a Senior 2 crew. Personally, I was pretty pleased that we’d managed what we had, considering I am yet to actually get any points in sculling or rowing competition. So to be that close to actually beating a Senior 2 crew is very promising. Also, considering it was only our 3rd outing as a crew, we did remarkably well.
My second race of the day was in a Senior 3 coxless quad. This time there were 3 other crews involved. The start was good and all crews were pretty equal for the first 15 or so stroke, but then we started to spread out a bit. Unknown to me at the time one of the crews wandered out of their lane, so were disqualified. So I spent the whole race thinking we were lower placed than we actually were.
For some reason that 1000m course seemed shorter and easier than the first time round. Perhaps it was because I knew what was coming or that I had blown the cobwebs out in doing the first one, but the 500m mark came round quicker this time and we were in second place (although I thought it was third at the time).
Before the race we’d had a chat and decided that I would call out if I was struggling with the rate, purely in terms of my technique. Since I’m pretty new to sculling my technique breaks down at higher rates. I called out “RATE” and we dropped the rate by 1 maybe 2 and lengthened out, the boat did seem to run much more smoothly after that, and we started putting even more distance between ourselves and the next crew. When I glanced over my right shoulder I could see the crew in the lead (which I thought was 2nd place at the time), so started to increase the pressure, I’m sure we made some ground on them, but in the end it wasn’t enough. So, another 2nd place, but all in all it was a good row.
So, I managed to row in 2 races and not catch any crabs. I also only missed one, possibly two, strokes. So, it was a really good day all things considered. Just a shame I didn’t managed to get any points. I did, however, come away with sunburn!