Schools Head March 2017
This was the first Tideway race that Harry Ashby and I had competed in. I would be lying if I said that we weren’t nervous as we had heard several rumours of the infamous Tideway. That being said I couldn’t be more excited to race alongside some of the best junior crews in the country. In the 8 week run up to the race there was a professional training programme set for us, so we had the best possible chance of success. Our J16 quad were ready to give it our best shot. A week before the race we were lucky enough to get our quad out on the Thames and get a feel for the river. This was immensely helpful to calm our nerves and get our minds focused on the job in hand.
Early on the 23rd of March we headed up to Chiswick where we found the trailer by Emanuel Schools Boat House. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, the sky was grey and the winds were picking up. As a crew, we rigged our boat and took it to the waters edge. With the help of the coaches and our trusty wellies, we were off and on our own. We began paddling down to our marshalling area where we waited… and waited… and waited. After a gruelling hour sitting stationary in the wind we were informed that the race had been shortened to around 3k due to the size of the waves by Chiswick Eyot. This was disappointing as this was not part of our race plan, but we all agreed that a race is a race and we were up for it! Our prepared bowman (Jack Murphy) had researched every meter of the river and knew the exact distance.
As we were called up through Chiswick Bridge we had a precious few seconds to remove our wind breakers, have a sip of water and sit ready. Before we knew it the Marshals called us off and we began our rolling start. We approached the official start line at Chiswick Bridge I picked up the rate and we all put down the pressure, we were flying. Sadly this didn’t last long, the waves increased in size and we began to clip the crests of the waves, sending freezing cold water into our boat. As we struggled on underneath Barnes Bridge we began to race toward the end. It was at this point that the crew gave it their all and raced to the finish. We all gave a large sigh of relief as we crossed the finish line. I was happy with the performance given those conditions and we managed to push our way up into 6th place out of the 20 boats competing. We managed to beat our rivals Trethnam RC who had beaten us at the Head of the Trent. Overall I am happy that we managed to experience a river that is so famous in the world of rowing and make Star Club proud there.
I must say a big thank you to the coaches for giving up a days holiday, training us and for providing us with the top spec equipment.