Today my racing started a little later. Unfortunately little man had a cry fest around 2 am, so another night of broken sleep.
I am still grateful for a little lie-in.
The Women’s A4+
Another composite with Asheville and the amazing coxswain, Jen. We rowed a lovely Empacher with me in 3.
The course had a stiff cross-tail wind. Our outbound practice had us down on starboard, even with adjustments to handle height. Once we passed the attenuator and onto the course, I changed a popper. It seemed to help.
Our start could have been better. Wobbly, down to port. The high 20 had unconnected strokes washing out water. But once we got around 250 the boat settled down, starting setting up, and going. We started gaining back some ground.
Off to the left in lane 7 was a boat running stroke for stroke with us. Our coxswain kept encouraging us to grab a seat and send it. The buoys turned red. We pushed harder.
Too close to call. A solid row, again, if not victorious. If we had a stronger start, we might have been able to find 2nd place. As it was, at the dock we learned we pulled off the 3rd place.
The Women’s C 8+
Launching was a little chaotic. Two 2x coming off the water for a fast turn around. First I was in 3, then I wasn’t, then I was bow pair. In the dock all the starboard makes looked occupied, but Owlen switched with me so I ended up in 3.
Heading out felt pretty solid. I did have one horrible stroke on our first practice start that splashed bow pair. The crosswind had really picked up, but Jessica, our coxswain got us locked on easy.
Then the announcer called 6 minutes.
What the heck? What happened to three minute centers? It’s high noon, cloudless, and baking.
The more we linger, the more nerves start creeping in. I stop looking around and stare down into my footwell or at Olwen’s silver and turquoise earrings. It helps.
Three minutes. Then:
“Sit tight, ladies. We’re having an umpire shift change.”
Our flight waits even longer, roasting alive, chopping water in 2 and 4 seats, while the refs motor their launch around the starting tower.
The new starter announces it will be a Quick start. Well, no duh. We’re at least 10 minutes behind and the crosswind is wicked.
All races have that commotion at the start, but there’s something about an 8+ race. It’s just more dramatic. If you have a full flight, like ours, that’s 72 people bursting into motion simultaneously: 64 hauling on oars, eight barking commands. Water flies. Oarlocks snapping in unison. Seats rolling.
I remember thinking: hang on. Stay loose.
The set wobbled slightly, but we were off. Slowly, push by push, gaining seats on each boat beside us. Building momentum.
In this race I snuck a peek with my side vision just once. It was somewhere in 300 or 400. I wanted to see where Orlando was, and our boat was Cox to bow seat.
Otherwise I stayed center. Never left, never right, just focusing on pushing, leveraging the right hand, rowing clean as possible. I didn’t want to be the reason we lost.
I never felt safe. Ever. I remember our coxswain yelling about gaining seats on the boat in lane 6. I think I heard her say they’re walking, or maybe it was they’re moving on us. I never knew who it was because I refused to look. I just pushed harder. When the red buoys started at the 750 meter mark, her calls still made me feel under threat. I pushed harder.
Where the other races had distinct voices, the cheering off the beach was a single roar.
The coxswain’s voice changed and I knew we were in the clear. We soared past the big orange finish buoys, no buzzer. I looked right and saw second place gliding in. We’d won! Relief.
Women’s A 4x
I had a fast turn around, made shorter by our stop at the winner’s dock. I executed outfit change 3, refilled water, and in a spilt we were back on the water.
Our start queue wait was made longer by some old men’s eights struggling to lock on the start in the wind. They were running over 15 minutes late by this point, even with the quick starts.
The wind was stiff enough I needed Holly to help chop the boat on point. And we were in lane 7, the most sheltered lane.
A decent start sequence. It seemed like the whole field was moving off together. At 250 in, two boats had slightly pulled up but the rest of us were locked in a dogfight.
The crew for Westerville in lane 6 was right with us. We had maybe 1-2 seats up. Just past 600 I called for a power 10 to try and move on them, and maybe back into the field. By now two boats clearly had an advantage while the rest of us kept jockeying for position.
The move worked, but when the last 250 came, Westerville had a much stronger kick. I pushed, but my legs were feeling the nine races thus far, and especially the 8+. To right, all the boats were close–
Another tight finish, but I had a feeling we were fifth. Sure enough, .9 seconds between our boats.
I feel bad, but at this point I felt too tired to put in a 110% effort for third place.
Other FISA notes
- Apparently the real reason for our 8+ delay was some single that flipped on the course.
- Today I earned a sunburn.
- I’m really tired.
- Discovered there are portable showers.
- It’s funny how Thursday the boat area is nice and organized and today it was a jumbled maze. Every boat for himself!