The novice boys arrived for a showdown on home turf with a point to prove, after an aborted assault for the Novice Club pennant at HORR and a disappointing result at Hammersmith Amateur, where the eight was beaten by a canvas by AK and the coxed four lost a frantic final to London after the TRC cox adopted ramming tactics. Despite some recent crew changes (due to rowing proving too manly for some) confidence was high.
The first race of the day was at a rather antisocial 9am in the eight against UCL. Fresh with memories of cruising past the exact same crew in the first few hundred metres of Quintin Head in January, confidence was brimming. After a fairly even start, Vesta settled into a solid rhythm and moved into a healthy lead by Barn Elms, with Thea steering the perfect course using the stream and UCL veering off towards Fulham. Vesta went on to win by a comfortable margin of three or more lengths, progressing to the final, despite half the crew suffering from early morning lethargy and an overly ambitious breakfast.
Two hours later and with everyone fully awake, and on a sugar high after too many Eric the Elephants, the 4+ set out to face the unknown quantity of school boys from Kings College Wimbledon. With a lengthy delay at the start, due to a booze cruise going past, there was plenty of time to eye up the opposition. The crew staring back at us looked on the weedy side (even in comparison to our own noodle sitting at bow for Vesta) and extremely young. Fortunately our blushes were saved and, although Vesta were on the sluggish side out of the blocks, we quickly overtook the school boys and cruised to a victory by 3 or 4 lengths.
Within minutes it was straight back out for the final in the eight against our local rivals from HSBC. We had not seen this crew during the head season so it was hard to know what to expect, although their stroke man did appear to have come straight out of a Head and Shoulders ad. After another even start, Vesta pushed out to a huge lead. Egged on with calls from Thea such as “embarrass them” and the Vesta roar, the crew raced for the line – failing to ease up despite half the crew having the 4+ final to still race – and achieved a verdict of “easily”. It was very satisfying to hear later that HSBC felt “there was no way they were novices!”
With the novice cherry well and truly popped, the 4+ went out to face Sons of Thames in the final full of confidence. In the last race before the tide turned, the umpire was keen to get things going, but despite the rush Vesta nailed the best start of the day and were a length clear within the first 30 seconds. The totally impartial race umpire later reported in the bar that the race was won after the first 10 strokes. Vesta went on to win in another “easily” verdict, rowing with a chunky rhythm and a punchy stroke rate of 35.
Cheered home by a packed Vesta balcony, with frequent calls of “get on Barty”, the squad went round to collect all 14 pots and preceded to consume vast quantities of alcohol out of them, including some cheeky cava! All in all a great day for the Novice boys with 12 points to show for it! Next stop Met…