Was summer only a few short weeks ago? It sure feels like a distant memory. . . Here’s our round up covering a summer of racing.
by Lauren Hardcastle
Novice girls complete the metamorphosis to transform into the development women….well almost all of them!
With training camp completed (survived) the novice girls started the summer full of nervous energy fighting for an elusive seat in that Henley 8. Training was stepped up a gear and with the squad whittled down to 9 with two of us proficiently turning a natural hand to coxing! The race was on – so to speak, not only to find that perfect, knee length, dress for Henley Royal (somewhat of a challenge for these tall girls amongst us!) but to get a respectable time in the 2k vomit inducing test and a seat in the boat for Henley women’s!
A few weeks later and there we were on a beautiful balmy Thursday evening paddling down the Henley course with not one head in the boat, I’m not sure any one of us (including James and Chris!) thought we’d be sat there looking into an incredible sunset making all the blood, sweat and tears worth every second! Although our Henley 8 did not make it through the time trial we had the best race of our season and were massively punching about our weight in the big leagues, the experience alone was incredible and it just made us more determined to keep our seats in the intermediates next year!
So – with Henley women’s over for 2016 we put down the AIO and pulled out the dresses for Henley Royal! Not too shabby to be part of the Remenham Club and definitely the way to do Henley Royal, the weather was kind and the champagne very friendly and unbelievably no one missed the bus home. A great few days and a slightly painful liver later it was back to reality and the fun of summer regattas.
We decided to tackle Kingston, Molesey and to finish our season at Henley Town and Visitors Regatta. For some of us the drive to win that shiny first pot made us like magpies flocking to the river. Kingston went well with a nail biting heat and winning by a canvas! We were over the moon until we realised it was the Cambridge Development Squad who were our competitors for the final, we gave it our best and gave them a good race but sadly they pipped us to the post. We drowned our sorrows in a post-race bbq on the Vesta balcony! Not to worry, onwards and upwards to Molesey regatta…where let’s just say it didn’t quite go to plan! We made the rookie error of taking the wrong rigger and as we are all aware one cannot rig a boat with 5 stroke side riggers, we were somewhat screwed until a lovely man from Molesey lent us a boat and the race was on – we located our cox (who had been borrowed by 8 London boys who were intent on keeping her forever – that is a fight they would never win!) we made it to the start with no time to spare in our borrowed boat – alas it was not to be but we sure did learn our lesson!! – Our cox won her pot with the London boys and took a swim in the river for the privilege!!!
And so, all of a sudden it was back to Henley Town and Visitors with a scratch IM3 4+ and a wildcard entry.. We smashed the heat winning by a comfortable 4 lengths and the wait was on to see if we could end the season on a high, once again just being beaten to the pot by a meagre half a length but we were satisfied nonetheless, the glimpse of good things to come ensured we went home happy and contented we couldn’t have tried any harder.
I can honestly say joining Vesta has been one of the hardest, most challenging things we have ever done, there have been friends made for life, everyone has relocated to within a 1 mile radius of Vesta and we have callouses in places we never knew were possible, rowing is not just a sport but a way of life and I think that one that none of us are willing to give up. We are looking forward to embracing the Intermediates, Blackstaffe Day and a few well-earned weeks off.
September is just around the corner and we are not the Novices anymore – one might think we should know better now and can avoid those horrific hangovers and hand blisters but it is Vesta after all, it would be rude not to have a drink in the bar after training and from what I’ve seen so far the learn to row course are already giving us a run for our money with the biggest bar takings Vesta have ever seen last year! It’s a great place to be and with a new Captain and a new influx who knows what might happen next year, one thing for sure the Development Girls aren’t going anywhere….