|Race report by Ketan Patel:
For most (all?) of us, this was our first Head race in Peterborough. On arrival, we drove around in circles for some time, trying to find the entrance to the embankment. However, once there, we leapt into action. The boat was rigged, the steering cable fixed, and cox box checked. The crew was a combination of old hands and newer ‘Learn to Row’ graduates. We strategized (row as hard as you can!); we psyched ourselves up (maybe we can do this!); we shivered (f*** me, it’s cold!).
Soon, it was time to boat and we made our way down the slight but treacherous slope with Lynn Bryan held aloft. There was also much faffing (we really need to work on this). At last, we were off! Off on a seemingly never-ending paddle, punctuated by practise starts and pushes to the start line. We made mental notes of landmarks along the way – wind turbines, horses/cows, noxious stench – to help us judge the distance we’d come.
Once in position, we waited. And waited. Suddenly, the marshal was calling our number – telling us to row up…the cox barked orders – Sit up! Balance! Sit it! Start to build! We hit the start line at rate 36. We were flying. Flying! Closing in on the boat in front and pulling away from the boat behind. We were giving it our all in battle with Star Rowing club (who looked to be former Olympians or something). At times, rowing side-by-side; them pulling ahead and then us. Blades coming close but never clashing (thanks, new steering cable).
Before we knew it, the finish line was in sight. Our cox ordered us to empty the tank and shouted some other inspirational things (and might have made a noise like a curlew might make). The deafening cheers of the two, possibly three, spectators on the soggy bank (admittedly, cheering for Star), spurred us on and we dug deep. Quite literally, as there was a lot of digging going on in the boat…
The finish line drawing closer and closer. And…we finished. Exhausted but proud. Cold and yet hot. Proud in the knowledge that we rowed as a Curlew crew.