Saturday the 14th March 2015 was the 75th Women’s Eights Head of the River Race and UCLBC crews made up 3 of the 300 entries. The two weeks leading up to the Head after BUCS Head were less than ideal (putting it mildly). Injuries took two of the first 8 from BUCS Head out of the running and chest infections/flu meant that some last minute subs were called in with the 1st and 3rd 8 only having one (pretty epic) outing in their crew before the race. However, we are lucky to have strength and depth to the squad this year so we were still able to field 3 crews for the race. The last minute changes didn’t knock the girls racing off their stride and come the morning of the race, all of that was forgotten and they were all raring to go. The weather gods seemed to have smiled upon us as it was warm enough for some people to race in just their onesie! The group of UCLBC supporters gathered on Hammersmith bridge and their chants were almost certainly the loudest to be heard (at least we like to think so).
Some solid racing from all the crews saw UCLBC’s 1st and 2nd 8s get the best results since 1997. The 1st 8 came 54th, not quite hitting the target for this race but still a very good result especially considering the disruption leading into the race. The 2nd 8 came 165th and the 3rd 8 285th. To celebrate these great results, we somewhat predictably head to the pub, but not before trying some of the best cake you will ever eat. And that’s a fact! Credit where credit’s due to Jamie (coach/Director of Rowing/baking extraordinaire).
Despite going into the race missing two of our strongest women, our hopes were high for the race. Our erg scores showed us to be a fast boat and we had nothing to lose and only ourselves to prove! We started the race coming under Chiswick Bridge in a large cluster of boats, which didn’t break up much through the race. With some excellent coxing from Steph, including some gentle encouragement for other boats to move out of our way, we managed to overtake a couple of boats in our cluster. One crew in particular tried very hard to come past us, but we were determined to not let them past, which helped to push us over the course. Support from Hammersmith Bridge was both impressive and much appreciated, and gave us some much needed adrenaline to push on towards Putney. We crossed the finish line in 22mins and 5 seconds, making us 54th fastest on the river.
Zoe Watson (7 seat)
After a strong push off the start line and a game plan in place, focus and sheer determination was key. With a confident start, Chiswick Bridge disappeared into the distance and 6.8km to the finish was all that lay ahead of us. Pushing through each third of the race plan, changing our focus every 20 strokes we gained upon the crew ahead never loosing sight of them. The difficult conditions and strong winds in the 2nd third did little to phase us as we continued to push through towards Hammersmith Bridge only to be greeted by the sounds of our supporters. Spurred on by the supporting cheers, our focus recentred as we entered the final 3rd of the race, Harrods depot to Putney Pier, only 2.3km to go! Fatigue forgotten, we battled towards the finish line giving each stroke every ounce of power remaining, never once loosing sight of our competition.
Charlotte Booth (3 seat)
The third eight coped exceptionally well with the unfortunate crew alterations generated by illness and injury and raced a strong race, even staying in good spirits for the paddle home.
Florrie Beard (cox)
And only 5 days after this fantastic result, the women’s squad were awarded the Friends Cup at the UCLU Sports Colours and Awards Ball in recognition of their excellence and achievement at national and/or international level representing UCLU.
‘Transition week’ is over now and we’re back into the swing of training, gearing up so that by the summer regattas UCLBC will be on top form. The Easter holidays are coming up, which can only mean one thing…….TRAINING CAMP IN PORTUGAL! On the 12th of April UCLBC is off to Avis for over a week of training in (hopefully) perfect conditions. This will involve lots of work in small boats and in the crews for BUCS regatta, our next race coming up. But before that, we’ve got another very important event to attend, HORR, where we’ve got 4 crews racing and we’ll be cheering them on from Hammersmith Bridge and then joining them all for the after-party!