Following on from the highly encouraging performance at Trent Head, the ladies eight headed down to London for the annual Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (WEHORR). Despite the grey, overcast and chilly weather, the winds were quite light and the Thames looked as flat as I’ve seen it, so it looked all set for a good race.
In the event, the MKRC ladies not only beat expectations but simply hammered them into the ground! With a target of aiming for a top 100 finish (out of nearly 300 crews) they simply flew down the course and posted a time of 22:08.65 to finish a stunning 76th overall. Looking more closely at this, the time put them as the second fastest Eastern Region crew (only a Broxbourne IM1 boat being quicker) and the sixth fastest IM2 club crew; considering this is an international class event, this has to be one of the club’s best ever performances.
Paula’s views on the race
Having done the Head of the Trent the week before, we went down to London a lot more relaxed than usual, knowing that we were well capable to finishing the course strongly. We were boating from Barn Elms, which is just down the river from Putney. This was the first time we had ever boated from there and we learnt a big lesson from the start. Having put the eight together, complete with riggers, on one side of a fence, there was only a small gate in which to get the eight through, this also involved mountaineering up a muddy bank and then almost putting a couple of your crew in the Thames before there was room to turn the boat – lesson learnt, we de-rigged and split the boat BEFORE coming through the gate on the way back.
The advantage of boating at the Putney end is that you get a nice warm-up rowing to the start. This was a good chance for us to try to gel as a crew as it was the first time we had all been together thanks to Mother Nature keeping the lake frozen for a couple of weeks.
Going off at number 134 meant that we didn’t have the long wait that we usually have on the Tideway and it seemed that no sooner had we got to the marshalling area, that we were moving down the river and were soon being told to get into racing kit.
We were very quickly spinning (for which Andi was complimented by one of the marshalls) and then we were off. Andi pushed us from the very start to beyond the end!!! Helen wanted to overtake at least one crew – in the event, we very quickly took one crew and then another, we lost count in the end (think it was about 5 or 6).
The race was long and hard (what race isn’t?) but very quickly Andi was giving us the final 20 push.
Only a short row back to Barn Elms, and my day was made when I saw Tim grinning like a Cheshire cat on the towpath. After getting the boat out and de-rigging we all then went to buy a tee-shirt and replenish the caffeine levels at Costa whilst we waited for the provisional results. The results were finally posted and we were provisionally 76th. We had gone into the race hoping to be in the top 100 and we had done that with style!!!.