Nottingham City Regatta – May 2013
Yay for an early morning trip to the NSWC, the much beloved multi-lane rowing lake in Nottingham, known for guaranteeing ‘interesting’ conditions.
This year’s Nottingham City Regatta provided what could be classified as moderate conditions since it didn’t involve sinking and capsizing boats. The weather was cold, and a strong cross-headwind greated the senior women when they arrived at the lake, a wind that would pick up even more throughout the day while neither the sun stopped by nor the temperatures showed any intention of climbing beyond 8C (but felt more like 4C).
In the morning division we raced W.IM2.4+, and met strong competition from across the country, including some from big and successful clubs. In our first heat we had a decent start, but being a crew on the lighter end, into a cross-headwind, we were the slowest out of the blocks. Heads in the boat, only our cox kept an eye on that, and we did what we had to do. Once we settled into a race rhythm we quickly made sure to stay in touch with the rest of the field. In a strong 250 to 1000m and with various pushes at strategic moments we slowly left almost all opponents behind, and were in a situation to fight with Marlow and Leeds for those front seats in the final later in the day, aka non-outside lanes. With some excellent commitment from everyone in the boat, led by Tasha in stroke, and Silvia urging the team on, we were clear of Leeds and slowly had worked up a lead of 2/3 of a boat length over the bigger Marlow crew. In the third 500m they tried three times with pushes to take it from us, but our crew held them. Only their fourth attempt made them start to move back through us. Since we had decided beforehand the aim was to get into the final but not to leave everything on the water in this first race just to come first, Silvia decided not to go all out, and we even took it down a notch in the last 250m as we were clear of the crews behind us, and only Marlow was ahead. So one of the middle four lanes was secure. While there was room for improvement, we were happy with our 2nd place in the heat, which turned out to be the 4th fastest time of all heats.
The final around lunchtime saw us drawn into lane 5, not bad considering the headwind was coming slightly from that side. We had a good warm-up, finding more smoothness and sharpness. However, when it came to the start of the race, our start was pretty bad and we got dropped. The now stronger headwind didn’t help either. But we quickly recovered from it, and got down to business. Our first 500m were slower than in the heat, but our moves were effective, and we settled into a much smoother yet powerful and sharp rhythm, and ended up with higher speed than in the heats. A big step up. 500m in we were with the main field, neck on neck, not much difference. The only crew that had stormed out of the blocks and was significantly ahead was a strong and big crew from Thames RC. Everything worked perfectly from then on. The crew held it’s fantastic speed and smoothness, every push was effective, every crew Silvia picked to walk away from, one by one, we eliminated. All five worked together as if they did nothing else all day long. 1000m into the race, we were in 2nd place, but still had Marlow on our heels, with overlap, just like in the heat. In the third 500m we did not lose any speed at all, and we kept on walking away from Marlow, and in contrast to the heat broke the elastic. With 500m to go, we were cruising towards the finish line. It was ‘easy’ to keep up the speed, not lose any more ground to Thames holding their speed, and we crossed the line in a great finish, in a much faster time than the heat, despite the increased headwind. The whole crew was ecstatic having pulled out such a race. No regrets having come 2nd there, and big smiles all round by the crew and their coach.
The afternoon division saw us try a different crew for the W.IM3.4+ competition, but with a minor injury to deal with. The wind got quite vicious, but we were set to not scratch and give it a go.
With a bit of tough luck, we also had drawn the faster and stronger heat out of the two (13-15s faster), seeing once again as well the Thames crew in it amongst others, Furthermore, we got the worst lane out of all for the conditions on the day. But we did not despair and despite conditions becoming tricky we pulled together and tried to find the rhythm and as much cohesion as possible on the row up to the start.
After the start, we had been dropped by all the other crews in the heat, not a great position to be in. Silvia, focussed on getting back in touch with the field, pushing the crew to give a lot, and 500m in, we were overlapping with York City. However, they had a more protected lane, and in the next 500m all we could do was work as hard as possible. None of the crews managed to get further away from us, but it started to hurt bad and this crew lineup wasn’t running as well. We knew we had to row through at least one crew to get a place in the final. In the third 500m Silvia put everything on one card named “brute force” and asked everything from the crew, and everyone threw the kitchen sink in. Push after push we put the opposition under pressure, and with 500m to go we finally had reversed the position with York City. The last 500m we hang in there, push after push, suspend after suspend, taking a hard-fought for third place, and a place in the final later over the line. It wasn’t a pretty row, and not how we like to race, but we had done what had to be done, and everyone had given their last drop of power.
In the wait for the final, due to injury, we made the decision to change the rigging, and adjust the crew order, swapping Louise and Lisa round, and try the final in yet a different combination. It turned out to work well and we should have probably done it already for the heat, but you live and learn. The final itself was a good row, but after the brute force approach in the qualifying heat, plus never mind the two earlier fast 2k races we had done, our minds were strong and wanted to push hard, but our legs had enough. We gave it our all, and we didn’t lose touch or were slower than most of the other crews, but we just didn’t have what it took to row through them after our earlier 3 races.
Overall, a lot of valuable experiences and lessons learnt that we will take along into our next races at Dorney and Henley, and a happy senior women squad returned from Nottingham.
The crews were:
WIM2 4+ S Tasha Scott, 3 Emma Tod, 2 Emma Raynor, B Lisa Meegan, C Silvia Breu
WIM3 4+ S Tasha Scott, 3 Emma Raynor, 2 Louise Lane, B Lisa Meegan, C Silvia Breu (Heat)
WIM3 4+ S Tasha Scott, 3 Emma Raynor, 2 Lisa Meegan, B Louise Lane, C Silvia Breu (Final)
Many thanks to Silvia for coxing, and for the support from Dave and Roddie.
Race report: Silvia Breu