Flashback to 5th September Following election as Men’s Development Squad captain, Joe had assembled us with Nick to discuss the way forward. His goal for the squad for the year was to start winning and to do this, there were a few areas we needed to change. He then took us through what was required in commitment and training. It was about twice what I was expecting. But Ken said, “Let’s do it!”. And no one disagreed. ‘This might sound a lot, but if the goal is to win then the price can’t be negotiated’ – Joe Crotty,

September 2019 Fast forward to 30th October I had confirmed to Joe I would be upping my training, but I wasn’t yet ready for my first race and would wait for the Spring. But a space became available in the 8 for the Docklands Head and Joe and Nick convinced me it was worth a go. The ergs were going well, and it was on home turf, so the perfect opportunity really.

10th November I was racing in the 2 nd division, so I was able to be a spectator for the first races before competing late morning. The docks were buzzing and the weather and water perfect. I joined Claire, Mia and Alex on the bridge between the docks and awaited the first boats. The men’s senior 8+ came through and looked smooth and powerful. For other boats, it was not as straightforward with some interesting lines taken and desperate cries of “steering!”. One cox decided the best strategy was to sacrifice the bow-side rowers under the bridge, but no one was convinced. Curlew looked amazing though. The dev 4- came through with Giorgio skillfully choosing his line and then the crew buried themselves after the bridge. Next up, the 4+. Perhaps the boat is for sale, but on this form the men are making a good case for keeping it. I cheered on the dev women 8+ and caught Ken and John in the pair, and then it was time to start thinking about racing myself.

Fresh from the first race, Joe took us through the race strategy. I don’t remember it exactly, but it seemed to involve going out hard and fast, holding it, going harder, holding again and finishing harder still. We were 2 nd up so I naively thought it would be all over fairly quickly, but it takes a long time to bring 95 boats through the bridge and that means a lot of maneuvering. Luckily for us, Daisy was on top of this completely and even managed to keep us waiting in the sun for most of it. We eyed up the first boat and it was obvious to us we would not be catching them – strong and young and confident – the antithesis of how I was feeling. The right assessment too, as they ended up being the fastest boat of the day. Our goal was to follow the race plan and not get caught. After an age of waiting, we were suddenly off on a rolling start and then the call from the umpire was “go!”. Marek built us up to rate 30 and we held it there all the way. Daisy took a perfect line through the bridge and we made sure we looked great on camera at the bridge. Then the hard work started with a power of 20 and then lengthening out strokes. I don’t remember much beyond that other than finishing and knowing I couldn’t have given any more on the day. I’m in awe of all of those who raced the distance twice. Later, at home I found out we had won our category and there would be medals. My first sporting medal since I was 14 which is a very, very long time ago. In total, 30 medals for Curlew. What a day!

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