Jane Middleton reports on the novice women’s first crack at Women’s Head….
The Novice ladies squad were well prepared, we had trained hard, we were focused and we felt ready. Our coaches gave us the biggest race briefing of our novice existence. It was race day, this was it – it was now, this is what we had been working towards.
It was a huge relief when we finally left the pandemonium, threw our wellies in a bucket and got Tommy on the water. All that was left were some final photos, good luck messages from our awesome coaches Judith, Stuart, Kat and Leigh (all of whom resembled anxious parents sending their children off to boarding school for the first time) they could do nothing more now!
We rowed up to the start and had a 90 minute wait – it was painful and somewhat surreal but within that interminable wait we were calm and disciplined. Then suddenly it was time to spin and get underway…..in an instant we were pushing forward and cranking up the pace towards the starting post. The next 25 minutes passed by in a flash, we had got away cleanly, had gathered a strong steady pace as we reached Barnes Bridge and then the wind hit us. Mario steered us well through the course and it wasn’t long before we were approaching the island and then he had Hammersmith Bridge in his sights. The pace felt strong, confident and calm, we had long strokes, good clean catches, early squares and we weren’t rushing up the slide (for once). Hearing the roars of the crowd from Putney Embankment was unforgettable, the tanks were empty but the feeling of rowing past the Vesta balcony will never leave us from that infamous WEHORR experience.
We set off in position 293 and finished in position 261, which meant in real terms we were faster than 32 other boats of which 7 were in a higher category.
We did it and as we took Tommy back into the boathouse I for one felt we had become a true team…