Henley Women’s Regatta Report
Training did not end after Summer Eights for five members of UCBC as we prepared to enter Henley Women’s Regatta for the first time in too many years. In the end, three weeks of intense water work and committed erging paid off, with a solid performance from the crew.
We entered the Cathy Cruikshank Trophy for intermediate academic coxed fours. Racing began on Friday 20th June with time trials; we were already familiar with the stretch of the Thames at Henley, having come over for a paddle the night before. With the landmarks firmly entrenched in our minds (and written on the leg of our coxswain), we boated and headed up to the start with the other entries in our category. With 17 entries and 16 to qualify, we were confident, but still looking to put in a solid row. Rowing over at rate 34, our qualification was confirmed over lunchtime.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon resting in the shade and conserving energy for the race that afternoon. Whilst back on the water, we readied ourselves for the next couple of minutes. Our competitors were Hatfield College, Durham – their 1st VIII had placed one above us at the Women’s Head this year, se we knew they had the potential to be solid competition. The nerves kicked in as we tapped round the stake boats and got attached - especially when we saw the umpire stand up in the following launch. A strong start meant we soon took and maintained the lead over Hatfield, committing fully to the race and producing a stronger row than our qualifying time trial. We eventually won by a length and a half.
Our next race was Saturday evening against University of London Boat Club. We knew that they’d be fast – they had rowed their quarter-final a second faster than we had ours despite never really being challenged by their opposition (they won that race by five lengths). However, we resolved to give it our all in true Univ fashion regardless – we might just be college rowers, but we weren’t going down without a fight. Again, our training paid off with the start – we held on for a bit, but ultimately, they were the faster boat, and won by two and a half lengths.
We went to watch the finals on Sunday, and it was some consolation to watch UL convincingly beat Exeter University to win the entire event; the strength of women’s rowing at Univ was confirmed by the release of the time trial results, which showed us to have been the 5th fastest boat.
Racing at Henley is always special, always memorable. This year, was particularly so for us, as we were racing in the Acer Nethercott. Whilst waiting at the start of the course for the time trials, we could hear the conversation going on in the UL boat – a couple of the girls were explaining who Acer was to their crew mates. It’s hard to think of more powerful inspiration.
All in all, Henley Women’s Regatta was a brilliant experience, and looks set to become a regular fixture (and highlight) of the UCBC women’s calendar. Our gratitude goes to David Hunter for his donation to the boat club of the Acer, and we look forwards to competing at Henley again next year.
Posted on Jun 30, 2014
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