Kingston Head – 22nd March 2014

With only one outing together as a crew before this race, we knew we were slightly up against it to produce our best performance, but given that most of the crew have a fair amount of experience of rowing this stretch of river we were at least familiar with the course which undoubtedly helped us through the race. Boating from Walbrook meant that we had the entire length of the course to warm up, though this was somewhat to our cost as a cruiser went past and half filled our boat with water! Thankfully we managed to bail most of the water out during marshalling and were ready to go, only to be held up by an incompetent Vesta crew two boats ahead of us. Once they had eventually set off ahead, we were underway, really flying past the marshalled boats and settling comfortably onto our race rhythm. As a result of the lack of training time together, our race plan was to slightly under-rate what we are used to for most of the course before raising the rate towards the end to ensure we kept the pace up throughout the race. This was working well for us through the first couple of kilometres, as we chewed up the distance to the crews in front of us such that coming past Raven’s Ait we were overlapping the KRC crew ahead of us, and after a brief bit of resistance from them, we pulled clear coming past the end of the island. Ahead of that, Vesta had taken an illegal shortcut around the other side of the island, giving them an extra bit of distance on us, but we were still reeling them in. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t quite make the overtake before the bridges, so with between half and three-quarters of a length of overlap and preparing for our final sprint we were told to easy by the umpires as overtaking isn’t allowed through the bridges. This was incredibly frustrating for us as it lost us a huge chunk of time, and due to the relatively short distance between the bridges, we were again forced to easy just before the railway bridge, losing another chunk of time as we waited for them to clear the bridge. At this point, frustration that we hadn’t been able to put in our push for the finish as early as we’d have liked was evident in the aggression shown as we restarted and quickly were straight back up on the Vesta crew which had caused us so many problems, overtaking them comfortably before the finish. We crossed the line in a time of 15:35, though realistically it would have been a lot faster if we had not had to stop twice! All in all it was a good race for a scratch crew and with no overtaking issues on the tideway next weekend, we will be pushing for a strong result there.