CUW BB 2011 – Henley Head

Hello and welcome to the first Blue Boat blog! Let me begin by summarising the year up to now: outings in Ely/ergs at Goldie/weights at Fenners… and the odd race too to keep us on our toes. We’ve reached the final straight – just over one month till the Boat Race. Crews have been set and I’m happy to say that BB 2011 is one to watch!

We tested our mettle at the Henley Head on Saturday, racing for the first time as the BB. Due to injury we were one man down, so thank you to Nicola who subbed in for Izzi. The first thing we learnt that day was that you shouldn’t put the crew member with zero sense of direction (me) in charge of all the nuts and bolts for your boat. Whilst the rest of the crew was patiently waiting in Henley with two halves of a boat, the nuts and bolts were somewhere on the M25 heading the wrong way. Regardless, we made it to the start just fine. We went off hard and settled quickly to rate 34 which we maintained comfortably throughout. We found ourselves in no man’s land for most of the course with the Marlow crew in front starting probably about twelve lengths ahead and with no real sightings of the Vesta crew behind. We did eventually make up the distance to Marlow, overtaking them around the enclosure, close to the finish. The general agreement afterwards was it’d been a ‘solid’ race and we were for the most part happy with our row. One thing to work on now will be how we take it up for the line to really race out those last metres. The results showed that our hard work is paying off; we won the IM1 category, beat Oxford by 21 seconds and were the second fastest women’s VIII of the day, topped only by a “stacked” Oxford Brookes/Gloucester composite.

Having celebrated our result with pasta and an early night, we were back rowing again on the Henley Reach on the Sunday. We used the opportunity to practice on the Boat Race course with a few training pieces alongside Blondie and the Lightweights. After three four minute pieces we were knackered and I think it was clear we’d worked hard the previous day!

A great weekend for the crew, and it’s no doubt a confidence boost to know that we can go out there and race well. But we’re well aware that there is no room for complacency at this point; as Martyn said, “this was not the Boat Race”. We’ve still got more than a month to go and a lot more speed to find! Now we’re looking forward to sparring on the Thames in a week and a half, watch out alumnae…

Penny (BB 2010, BB 2011)