Putney to Hammersmith, 14th March 2020
Everything went according to plan.
We successfully completed our pre-paddle, a little nervy here and there but that was to be expected. We met our opponents for the first time during the weigh-in, which also went smoothly because Clare, our cox, is an absolute legend. We won the coin toss (tails never fails) and chose the Surrey station – the plan was to hold Cambridge for their Middlesex advantage on the first bend and slowly walk through them in the second half of the race. We were prepared to race bow ball to bow ball for the entire length of the race. We were each willing to give absolutely everything we had for this crew.
The time between weigh-in and boating passed quickly. We went over the race plan again, had some snacks, worried about whether we should eat some more snacks, found our focus, and then it was time to go. Our race started from the land warmup, we went through the motions purposefully, just like any other session.
One final chat with Nic before we boated – we were ready.
Hands on. We put the boat on the water. I flooded my left welly (classic Tideway). Too late to fix that now, it’ll be fine. We went through our race warmup and paddled past the start to wait for Cambridge. All the ergs, all the seat racing, all the sneaky bursts had led up to this moment. Nic had prepared us for this in ways we didn’t even realise.
The lack of stake boats on the Tideway meant it took a bit of stopping and starting to get ourselves aligned on the start line. Clare’s hand was up-
We flew off the start, this was it, this was our Boat Race. We had been through the start sequence so many times that it had become second nature to us. We knew the first half of this race would be really hard – it was their bend and we had to hold them. I regained consciousness about 500m in. We were half a length up.
Head in the boat, listen to Clare, breathe.
20 sharp catches into Fulham. Their bend was running out. We were still walking through them. This was the moment all five of us thought, “we could actually win this.”
Crisp, sharp. Time to pull away from them.
The rest of the race was a blur. I remember glancing up at the Cambridge cox directly behind us, sitting in our puddles. The gap was getting larger and larger and the final sprint was here.
“Time to race with your hearts girls,” we hear through the coxbox as we approach the second lamp post from the left on Hammersmith bridge.
We crossed the finish line 12 seconds ahead of our opponents.
We didn’t hear the finish marshal tell us to stop so we kept racing for another 50 metres or so, by which point we were really hoping Clare would tell us to wind down before our bodies exploded. We finally stopped and all of the emotion could finally escape us.
“We did it guys!”
We made history. We sent it.
Thank you to everyone who fought for this race, and supported Tethys from the start. It always felt like we had an incredible team of people behind us in our coaches, Nic and Martin, the other athletes, and the alumni who took the time to send messages of support. We are also really grateful to Al Craigie and Peter Haining for volunteering to act as impartial umpires for the Reserve Races. Let’s hope we are the first and only reserve crew to ever race this course – onwards and upwards to the full Championship Course next year!