Wallingford Head

Harriet Thomas

On the 28th Novermber the squad raced at Wallingford head. We were in matched boats, on home water and ready for our longest race to date. This weekend also saw the arrival of storm Awen, below freezing temperatures and gusts of up to 40mph. Stormy conditions coupled with 150 boats racing in each division led to a very cold and very long marshalling stint.  We kept ourselves entertained with jelly babies and accents of the USA courtesy of our super sub Edi Dukesherer from Colgate University and soon enough it was our time to race.

Boat 218 set off behind City of Oxford with Upper Thames Rowing Club ahead making up the sandwich between us and 215, our two OUWLRC boats. We wound into the race with a rolling start just above the island holding rate 34 to start off the 4k. Coming through the S bends City were in sight and we held it high to get past and move up on the crews ahead.  1.2k in and overtake number one was completed. A second stride and a reset got us back into our rhythm and we were soon moving up on Upper Thames.  With 1k to go we were sitting level with them and as the river narrowed our blades clashed. Hands up, dig deep, all practice for the side-by-side racing to come. Under the road bridge we finally made our move, pushing past Upper Thames to give us clear water for the last 500m sprint.

We crossed the finish line, proud of our effort, with more race experience in the bag and slightly warmer than we had been 17 minutes earlier!! The results came out and our two boats placed 4th and 5th, with just 3 seconds separating the two. We had finally cracked the matched boats line up and were excited to see what one more week of training in those crews could bring to trial VIIIs.