Worcester 2016 – A day at the races

From the point of view of the bow in a NOV 4+
Saturday, 5am, off goes the alarm clock.  The inner voice on your left side wonders why you’re doing this, but you then tell it to shut up and just get on with it.
Get all ready, take your bike and it’s just chucking it down out there, 25 minutes ride to the station where all the other guys are waiting for you.
Get in the train, take a look at yourself and think, No need to capsize today, I’m drenched even before I get anywhere near to the boat.
90 minutes of train, not much conversation, everyone tries to sleep, some casual laughs from the college guys who will actually be our competition on our first race and before we know, we’re at Worcester.
We gather with the rest of the people from our club who came by car and we get together to detrailer and adjust all settings for the boat to be ready.
We go for a stroll along the river and watch Marike, our IM2 sculler, take a comfortable win in her first race, great stuff Marike!
We carry on wondering around the club and end up sitting in a beautiful boatclub with a personalized rug, plenty of beer selection on tap and even a dancefloor.  We watch the other races from their balcony while the nerves and the tension start to grow up.
9:50, time to make a move, we go to the car, get in our rowing costumes and make it back to our boat, we wait for someone to tell us when to take it, until we decide to just go to the boat-checking with the boat as it’s getting pretty late.
Taking the boat is a real chaos, stair cases, people, other crews with boats, narrow corners all in a 100 meter walk with a 15 meters boat on our shoulders.  We make it there and boat is checked, hit the water and take off.
Silent paddle towards the starting point, we try to make our best, try to keep balance, catch together, square early, handle heights, finish together, gosh, there’s so many things…
Starting point, attention, we bury our blades, GO!, we kick our foot blades, adrenaline is flying in the air, you wouldn’t find more thestosterone in a gym full of pre adolescents and… the boat goes all over the place, we fall on stroke side causing our stroke man not to be able to tap out, our bow man takes a drive in the air, and 2 and 3 do their best to try and handle the chaos, the third kick isn’t much better, stroke still can’t tap out, the boat is dangerously down on their side, bow can’t get a decent catch, it takes us a good 6 builds before we can sit the boat and start catching up with our competition and, all in all, we do, we’re holding on, but our morale is pretty low and our power goes diminishing as theirs grows, not much to do, the power tens don’t work, we’ve lost confidence and motivation, they win, we lose.
Time to take the boat out of the water, think about what’s happened and recover energies and motivation for the next race.  We take the boat back down all those stairs to the trailering area, get back in regular clothes and go to the clubhouse to have a snack and a rest.  In all this we hear that our double has won, a new mug for their collection.  Well done girls!!
We rest, we chat, we decide to slow it down in the start and some of us manage to catch some sleep just after we hear that Marike didn’t make it through the semifinal of her division which was held while we were taking the boat, such a bummer, we’ll get our jugs in Milton Keynes, heh!
Before we know, it’s time for our second race, after some weird issues with the time of the race and having to move back and forth with the boat, we hit the water, take her slowly to the starting point, thinking about the start, let’s not screw this one, let’s remember everything Diarmuid told us back in August.
Academicals, attention, GO! We do it right! we’re squeezing, not kicking, we make a perfectly balanced start, if anything, a little slow but with no crabs, no driving through the air, and we’re in the race, we make it through the first 400 meters with one bow ball moving ahead of the other in each stroke, there’s no clear winner, we’re still in the race, 550 meters, we call for the last power on, but there’s no more power, our lungs are out of air, the other crew pushes away and we make our best to not lose for more than a length.  No, we didn’t win, but we made a good race, we made no mistakes and didn’t win because they were stronger than us.
So we pack our stuff in the trailer and go celebrate the victories and defeats in the clubhouse with a nice pint of beer and a better company.
Next time guys and gals, next time!
Steven Garcia
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