Mens' Novice IV+: Messrs. Harrison, Lund, Brinker and Rees, coxed by Dr Maunder.
glorious weekend, in a glorious location, four lanes of racing over two days and a selection of pubs located near the finish line: Peterborough Regatta seemed like the perfect scene for us to put in a valiant losing performance in our heats and spend the remainder of the weekend lazing in the sun.
That idea didn't last long. 500m into our first race and we found ourselves out in front of the competition, a couple of pushes later (powered largely by our own surprise as much as anything) and we came in first, 25 seconds ahead of our nearest challenger. My feelings were a strange mixture of elation and confusion. Having only beaten one boat in our previous three regattas, beating three in one race was a little surreal.
Benjamin commented: "No one was more surprised than us to be climbing out of the boat a few minutes later with other crews still racing! Mirko had pushed himself so hard he couldn’t recognize the reason he couldn’t see boat’s out of the corner of his eye was not that they were ahead but that they were a distant speck on the horizon. Having lost a good number of races to that point I was fully aware that the unrestricted view I had from stroke of three distant rivals would be a lasting image."
A repeat performance in a slightly tighter semi-final proved that it wasn't an abberation and that we actually deserved our place in the final. I'd love to describe the final but I cannot for the life of me remember any of it. All I recall was the pain at the finishing line and the disappointment of finishing third. Seriously?! Disappointed with third? At the start of the day I'd have been pleased at not being embarassed in our heat. We finished behind a handy De Montford University crew and St. Neots RC, who seemed to find the afterburners in the final, after we beat them in the semi.
Day 2 dawned with heightened expectations, tempered somewhat our attempts to double-up in the novice 4+ and 8 and some tougher competetion, not least the usurpers known only as Sons Of The Thames (Field). The first 700m of our heat saw us involved in an tight battle with the Cambridge 99 crew, before we pulled away to take second place behind Derby. In a strange way I felt more exhilarated by this race than any on the previous day. We were further cheered by the news that the other Sons crew had qualified for the other semi-final.
After several weeks of training in the four getting into the boat for our heat in the eight felt really odd. It was basically a crew that involved glueing together the two fours that had just got through the heats and we hadn't rowed together before. Given that, I'm quite pleased that we managed to keep the race tight, nicking third place on the line. But I wasn't thinking that at the time. As we crawled out of the eight all I was thinking about was the prospect of our semi-final in the four in just 40 minutes. I can't have been the only one in the boat feeling a little pessimistic of our chances of getting through to the final while still having the thighs burning from the previous race. But what do I know? We found ourselves in a three way race for second before again pulling away in the last 300m to claim second. Suddenly the reason for all those sodding winter erg sessions becomes clear and we'd squeezed into our second final of the weekend.
Seven races over two days over the same course under broadly the same conditions, surely the nerves should have gone by now? Apparently not, the stomach was doing its thing again as we moved onto the start-line. Again, I'm sure that the race was fascinating, but you'll have to wait for the DVD because I can't recall what happened. It turns out that we came fourth (otherwise known as last, if you want to be pedantic) but in comfortably our fastest time of the weekend. So you've got to be pleased with that, haven't you? The race was won in a blistering time by Derby RC. They popped over to say 'Hi' after the race, which was a great gesture. I still want to kick their asses at IM3 though!
So ended a terrific weekend, filled with nervous tension, exhilaration, exhaustion and excitement. I can safely say that I've caught the multi-lane racing bug.