This year’s County Championships at Newquay saw two contrasting days of racing conditions thrown at us. The Saturday’s high seas forced more than a 3 hour delay to the start of our first race but it was very exciting once we got out there! At times, walls of water hid our competitors and turning marks and more than one of us lost our oars temporarily from between their pins. We wished we’d practiced in similar seas but most clubs agreed that they’d probably not even launch in conditions like this back at home. We really enjoyed the ride though and finished comfortably ahead to win our heat.
There wasn’t time to race again on the Saturday so we returned the next day for Round 2. Newquay’s Saturday stag-do seascape had crashed out by the time we arrived for the start of racing at 8.30 on Sunday morning; the waters in a comparatively chilled-out zone. Today’s pressures proved to be more mental as we knew we would now be up against much better crews and that we’d have to beat most of the fleet on time around the course if we were to stand a chance of progressing through to the Quarter Finals.
We were drawn to race in the 4th heat in the St. Agnes boat – Bryanek and went on to row the course in our fastest time of the weekend. But nerves got the better of us and we hit the beach disappointed with what we felt had been rather a ragged performance; four of us blowing our forearms within the first five minutes. We had quickly dropped back behind Looe and Caradon B crews but did manage to hang in there to finish 3rd overall. Then came a tense wait for us to find out how our time would compare to the rest of the fleet. Having finished the first day 9th overall on time, we discovered that we were now down to 24th – just making it through to the Quarter Finals.
Having arguably got away with it and with extremely sore forearms, we were determined to go into our next race in a more relaxed frame of mind. Our crew is very good at pulling ourselves back from a bad race and with some last minute advice from Penny Chuter, we went out determined to row better and to our expected standard. With a heat of A crews and Looe B, we knew it’d be a tough one, but we did row better and went on to finish 5th out of 6, keeping our morning’s heat winners, Looe, this time firmly behind us. Luckily our race turned out to be one of the faster QF heats and after a lot of watching the scoreboard and mental calculations, it was announced that we had managed to end up 13th out of 90 boats overall. A new club record, smashing what has historically been a regular 18th in the final championship placings.
We’ve had a great season, broken through a few club glass ceilings and enjoyed (almost!) every minute of training and racing together. Thanks to everyone who helped us along the way.