Blondie at Henley Head

Hello all, and welcome to the Blondie crew blog of 2011!

Now that crews have been announced, we’re cracking on with training in an VIII together (or at least trying to; we are also well practiced at rowing in a ‘7’, or the even less popular ‘6’), and as part of this we set off to Henley this weekend to test ourselves for the first time on the boat race course.

Henley Head is a 3k course, racing upstream towards the HRR finish, and the day was made that bit more exciting by the fact that all 8 boat race crews were racing. With a bit of a shake-up to the crew order earlier in the week, we were nervous about our ability to find that typical ‘Blondie’ rhythm. We had a solid row down to the start, and put in some strong shouts for the Cambridge crews that raced past us while we marshalled.

From our rolling start we wound to 34, but quickly settled to our race rhythm of 32. Despite some organised faffing on the start line to give us space, we didn’t take long to move up on the crew in front of us, overtaking them as we rowed past Temple Island to the sound of an increasingly stressed Alice calling for them to ‘CONCEDE THE LINE!’

Our middle kilometre was consistently powerful, including a good push past some anonymous Cambridge supporters. Towards the final kilometre we were handily moving up on the Oxford college crew, and some calls from Alice to move through them in 10 strokes were well responded to (we even managed to do it in 8). As we tried to take the rate up for the finish we lost a bit of coherence due to the distraction of the overtaking and a slight lack of practice (especially of knowing where the end of the course actually is).

So, all in all, a good row, but there is definitely more finesse to be found, and a draw at this stage leaves us with the prospect of an exciting boat race ahead… We’re going to be take our inspiration from the brother of one of the crew members, who raced in an entirely different Blondie boat (a yacht!), in Hong Kong this weekend, and won. We are looking forward to the next four weeks of training, and to seeing what speed we can find to gain  those all important inches.