W1 Race Report for Fairbairns

As always, I got excited and nervous about the race whilst waiting to head to the boathouse, and was in a jittery mood for the fifty minutes we were waiting at the boathouse – particularly whilst waiting for other boats to return and push off so that we could get the boat out. We had the nicest pre-race marshalling I’ve ever had – we were simply waiting on the hard, and didn’t push off until 2 minutes before the race. We had a couple of strokes to take us to the start, then faffed to decide whether we would do a rolling or front stops start – Jess helpfully asking “is this the race now?”.

We went off, into a rolling start and immediately settled into a comfortable rhythm. I thought it was too comfortable, and wondered why Georgie wasn’t asking us to take the rate up. The reason was that, for possibly the first time in term, we had a lovely rhythm and ratio which kept our rating up without being more exhausting than necessary.

I consciously noticed various landmarks, and we seemed to be getting past them fairly quickly, with Georgie’s pushes off bridges and out of corners. It was a rare race with very little coaching from the bank (Mark was feeling incredibly ill and Marina’s voice isn’t very loud) but I think I heard the occasional ‘sharpen the catches’. We had a really nice push through the corners and we were suddenly on the final straight, giving our final push, going under the motorway bridge, nearly at the end, when Georgie shouted “where’s the finish?” which was slightly worrying, but we pushed through until we heard the “wind it down” call.

The marshalling at the end was not as nice as that at the beginning (particularly when we realised that Mark was looking worse after the race than we were), and boats were three deep on the bank before we saw W2 racing along the final straight. We were amazed and excited to discover that they had overtaken 2 boats during the race! Then it was back to tedious marshalling before rowing back to the boathouses, with some of the nicest paddling we’ve had all term.

Back at the boathouse, we enjoyed lots of Reana’s baking – lemon meringue cupcakes! – and debriefed about the race, which mainly consisted of “let’s wait and see the results”. Results were up a few hours later and we’d come 5th, but importantly had beaten FaT and Caius, and had closed the gap on Downing. Bring on Lent term, and bumping up into the first division!

Sally-Anne Bennett, W1