I think I skipped day 3 … it’s difficult to find the time to do a write up between all the eating, rowing and sleeping that’s happening. It’s actually Sunday morning right now, but once again I’m going to write this as though it’s Saturday night. As far as I’m concerned, nothing happened on Friday because I cannot remember it… except that we watched a little bit of the Qualification Regatta before we loaded our boat onto the trailer for Reading.
Today was the Reading Town Regatta, and our game plan was to take a bus to Reading. Our boat and oars were already there as we put them on a trailer the previous night. Our game plan wasn’t as good as we thought, though, because though we knew the bus schedule, when the rubber met the road on Saturday morning we had no idea where the bus picked up from. After waiting at a ghost bus stop (meaning we later learned no buses actually go there) for like half an hour, we realized we weren’t going to get there in time to rig and race. So we called a taxi and the crew jumped into the cab, while Shannon, Julie and Noëlle (mostly Noëlle) found the real way to the bus.
We arrived at the regatta, payed the race fee and were told our race was being bumped back due to an equipment issue with one of the crews we were racing. Fine. We’d be racing two American crews – Tulsa, who are juniors from Oklahoma that were racing up in the senior event, and Trinity College, whose four narrowly missed qualification for the Prince Albert Cup the day before. The regatta was pretty low key – similar to a local regatta feel in the US, except they had a decent food tent that even served warm English beer (which we skipped, but did partake in the bacon sandwiches), but they also had this odd fine dining tent with two well moustached guards where they were carving a nice roast pig.
We launched, and after alot of agonizing over gopro placement, I forgot to start the camera for the race. We got to the line at 12:17 for a 12:24 race but hadn’t done anything except row 19 strokes a minute to get there. They immediately ushered us into the start blocks, so we had to race without taking a single warm up stroke. Our start was precarious – not because of any poor rowing on our part, but because Sarah’s course began to converge with Trinity College’s course. Whether Sarah was steering into their water, or they were steering into ours, would certainly have been easily sorted out later by the pristine placement of the gopro camera, but in the moment the umpire decided that we were in extreme violation of Trinity’s airspace. We were bow to stearn after 15 strokes, and the umpire began flagging us. JD passed word back because I couldn’t see the umpire, and both JD and I shouted “Sarah…starboard” for the remainder of our high 20. We broke open water just after the 20 ended, and Sarah slowly continued to move away from Trinity through the doglegg-ish part of the course. We aimed to settle to 36 strokes per minute, but ended up rowing a 37 for most of the base portion of the piece. While we didn’t really need to because we were comfortably winning, we brought it up to 40 strokes per minute for the last portion of the race to practice our sprint for Henley.
After the race, the umpire told the umpire on shore to chastise us for not responding to her commands quickly enough – so we took a good scolding there. In retrospect, I’m sure continuing to push out and rate at a 40 at the end of the race didn’t put us in good graces with the umpire either, but we have to do what we have to do to prepare for Henley. JD and Sarah also made the conversation with the umpire on the dock a little longer than it should have been, which also, in retrospect, probably didn’t work to our favor and led to the massive scolding we would later receive at the hands of our actual race umpire.
After the race we puttered around the regatta, ate bacon sandwiches, waited for the results to be official, missed our window of opportunity to pick up our prize before the lunch break, and waiting around some more. Finally, we got our prizes – these sweet pewter tankards engraved with Reading Town Regatta 2013. When we stood for our photo to be taken, we saw an unfamiliar face stroll up next to our volunteer photographer and our scolding was imminent. The conversation went like this:
Umpire: “I was the umpire following your race”
Sarah: “Oh, Thank you”
Umpire: “No, not ‘thank you’ because you’re about to get bollocksed”
Everyone” ;;;look sheepishly down at our feet;;;
Umpire: “Now you know, when an umpire gives you a direction you do it immediately otherwise you’ll be disqualified. At Henley, if you did what you did today, you would have been disqualified. The only reason I didn’t disqualify you is because you won by 4-5 lengths.”
Sarah: “Sorry… thank you…..”
Everyone else: hiding behind shrubbery, looking down at our feet, digging little holes in the sand with our toes.
After that tongue lashing, we somberly hopped into our boat and rowed from Reading back to Henley (a total of either 12-13k or 8-9 miles, I’m not really sure). The row took us forever mostly because of a wrong turn near the beginning where we interrupted a show at a local theater, and also because there were three locks we would have to pass through to get to Henley. Locks, we learned, aren’t as exciting as we thought – they move pretty slowly, and sometimes you have to wait a long time to get into them.
We took a lot of good footage in the locks and rowing back to Henley, which I’m editing into a bigger video that I’ll release later.
When we got back to Henley, we learned that the draw for the regatta had happened and we were seeded for our event. That means we received a favorable draw that keeps us away from the faster crews of the regatta to ensure that there is fast racing on Saturday and Sunday. This is good news.
Tomorrow (really, today) we are heading to London to do the tourist thing and take a deserved day off. We’re pretty pleased with how our rowing has been coming along, as it has been an adjustment getting used to the new boat and oars.
I’ll come back to this post later to add some more photos, just wanted to break radio silence so people could know what was going on.