Hoorah! I did it, I finally lost my novices, well for sculling anyway. At Shrewsbury Regatta on Saturday 9th May 2008 in the Novice Double Sculls event I finally did it 🙂
Our first race, the ¼ final, was against Rex BC (Miller/Wilson). During our paddle up to the start line the boat wasn’t sitting particularly well with quite a few worrying wobbles coming up to the catch. I was really nervous with it being my first race of the season, and also the first time I’d ever competed in a double. The race itself wasn’t much better than the paddle to the start if I’m honest. There were quite a few moments where we had very bad balance, it was a case of winning with brute strength rather than any finesse. If my memory serves me correctly, we started off pretty evenly for the first 10 strokes or so. After that we quickly gained a 2 length lead and held it there until near the finish line where we got caught up on one of the bouys and lost it altogether! We quickly regained our composure and after 3 or 4 strokes got back in to it. I put on as much power as I dared to get our lead back. During our “rest stop” our opposition gained a length on us, but as soon as we got back into our rhythm we started pulling away again. We finished about a 1½ lengths up.
Our semi-final was against RGSAO WorcesterBC (Johnson/Middlebrough). A change of boat for this race, as our usual boat sustained some damage. So unfortunately, a slight delay for our opposition while were got our new boat set up. During the paddle up to the start the boat sat really well, I think in part due to the gates being higher and also to us having been on the water already. This was a really close race all the way, I think the lead changed hands a few times but we managed to come out on top by 3 feet at the finish line.
Our opposition in the final was Guildford RC (Manton/Sadler). Same boat for this race, but a change of lane. I was nervous enough without that! This was now my 3rd final (including the 2 I got to during the Burton Regatta last year). So, I was very determined not to be labelled a “choker”. Since we were in the far lane now, we had the disadvantage of starting behind because of the stagger required to compensate for the bend in the river. Our plan was to keep it clean and smooth and to avoid “ragging” it. We stuck to our plan throughout the whole race. By the time we’d reached the bridge we’d reeled them in and were neck-and-neck. Because we’d gained the 2 length stagger gradually we were moving the boat well, so we just kept on doing what we were doing. Keeping it clean and smooth allows the boat to run quicker and also give us a bit of spare energy towards the finish. As we got to within 200 metres of the finish line, I could see our opponents pulling back, so I put a little bit more of a squeeze on the drive while still keeping it clean and we pulled away a little more. In the background I could here other members of Trent RC chanting …
Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …Trent …
Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony … Milky and Antony …
I couldn’t help but smile, so I must have been pretty relaxed. Anyway, we crossed the line 1/3 of a length ahead, so the pot was ours. Awesome! We were both completely exhausted, but still managed a hearty 3 cheers for our opposition who put up a good fight and gave us a really close race.
As you may (or may not) have noticed I wasn’t racing with Rob, as he has decided to quit rowing. A shame as he has a lot to offer the club in terms of teaching people how to row and how to improve their technique. He helped me immensly and I don’t think I would have won my novices without the one-on-one coaching he gave me.