Vesta women raced with tremendous guts and tenacity at HWR this year, but came up against some tough competition and came home empty handed.
Vesta took four boats: a Senior VIII, a Club VIII, a Senior 1x and an Elite 2-. AND they took some warm-hearted, loud-lunged supporters, who did a great job lifting the rate and spirits over the weekend!
Friday’s weather was fairly benign, warm with a tailwind mostly, and rain pretty much held off. The club eight looked very sharp boating and meant business ruthlessly knocking out their first opposition, Thames RC (B), beating them Easily.
On Saturday the wind picked up and up throughout the day, which slowed the times, probably by at least 15 seconds, and who knows what effect it had on the different stations, also depending on how the coxswains and crews coped I imagine. Vesta members and supporters also turned up in numbers to cheer on the girls, which was much appreciated by the crews.
The club eight continued along the same way, picking off City of Oxford with a five length lead, ready the semi-final on Sunday.
Liz Crighton, off the back of her Reading win, raced in her single twice on Saturday and showed very strongly against her competition, beating Isle of Ely by three lengths and a dutch competitor by three and half lengths.
Vesta’s ladies pair headed out to see what they could do against Molesey, but they didn’t have the firepower to trouble them, losing Easily. (Racing a pair is probably the hardest boat along the Henley course as well, so all credit for not hitting the booms, which might have been a nerve-wracking thought after Reading!)
For the senior eight there has been a hard run up to Henley with an intense battle for places in the crew and the perennial problem of a lack of racing competition at their level, providing little race practice. However, there were nine entries at HWR, supplied by four visiting crews from the USA and one from Ireland, plus two UK uni crews and the only other UK club was Star. Vesta took on Trinity Col (A), Hartford, USA late on Saturday afternoon, as the wind was at its most blustery, and pushed and pushed down the course, but could not break them. They trailed by just 1/4 length at the finish, which was a devastating blow for the girls. OUWBC were the hidden gems in the mix, beating GVSU, USA in 5:12, just 2 seconds slower than the winning GB U23 Elite VIII division crew.
Sunday brought the semi-finals and finals for Liz and the Club VIII, but unfortunately neither would make it beyond the day’s first hurdle. The C.8 had a spirited battle against Galway RC, who had already knocked out Royal Chester and Twickenham. The girls also showed their feisty hearts pushing Galway hard to lose by just 1/3 length. Galway went on to lose in the final against Lea RC, who had posted a very fast time of 5:16 in the semi-finals against Thames RC (A). The Lea it seems are a cut above all the rest this year, so congratulations and well done to them.
Liz came up against Hart of Nottingham RC in her semi-final, and similarly she met her match in the overall winner. Hart beat Liz by 1 and 1/4 lengths in 6:38, but went on to win in her final with an easily verdict in a time of 6:31, aptly the fastest time of the S.1x event.
To sum it up: well done Vesta ladies and coaches on your amazing work this season. You’re all a credit to the club and we’re very proud of all you’ve achieved this season. I’m sure it’s been a good journey, lows and highs included and you’ve learnt loads in the process. The coaches have worked superbly hard, put in their all and deserve every thanks. It takes a while to lift your spirits, but Henley Royal helps! So here’s to all the ice creams, pink champagne and Pimms that you are obliged to eat and drink at HRR for those not racing. And for those who are: SMASH IT! Let’s look forward to some awesome rowing days ahead!