by Victoria Carroll
This year for 4’s Head, the senior women were all in sculling boats, a change for Vesta! We had a good few weeks practicing in our crews and made the most of some hard battle paddling sessions with the other quad to prepare for the race.
All being experienced at head racing, we were well aware of the potential for frostbite while waiting for the start so we layered up with our warmest kit, waterproofs and of course banana cake courtesy of Andy Carson. As Vesta hadn’t entered a women’s quad for quite some time we were starting off number 333…the last Vesta boat! This meant we were able to cheer on the other crews before getting started but it also meant we had the crews ahead of us in our sights from the start.
We had a good rolling start coming through Chiswick bridge with Kirsty pushing us to sharpen our catches as we built up our speed going through the start. Some awesome steering from Charlotte right from the start line meant that we overtook our first two crews before Barnes Bridge – this gave us a great boost and pushed us to aim for the next boat! We heard lots of support from Vesta members past and present all along the course which we used to coincide with our pushes as we made our way down the course. Not long after Barnes we overtook our third and fourth boats and the long lonely row down the island was made all the better as we overtook two more crews.
As we approached Hammersmith we reset and prepared to row tall and proud for the Vesta supporters we knew would be waiting for us as we popped out the other side. The roar as we came under the bridge was loud and clear and set us up to tick off the bouys down past Harrods, another long stretch that can be hard to overcome mentally. We knew the other Vesta women’s quad was ahead of us and that kept us going through that tough stretch to the black buoy. Our plan was to start winding up from here and give it everything until the finish – this was helped by a shout from Charlotte telling us we had three further crews close ahead. Time to really punish those legs! Robyn led us along the embankment line of boats with a huge push bringing us level with the other women’s quad through the finish.
We were exhausted and delighted in equal measure – we all agreed it was one of the best races we had all done. We were aiming for a top 10 finish in our division which we all felt was punchy considering we were racing W.IM1 but ended up achieving our goal, finishing 9th out of 36 in our division. Overall we started off number 333 and finished 216. A great race and we are all looking forward to racing at Teddington and beyond!