Very early on Saturday the March 18th, four Radley BC crews (J18B, J16B, J15A and B) rowed in the annual Kingston Head from Hampton Bridge to Kingston Boat House. With two weeks since we last raced at the Reading University Head, we made sure that we had ironed out any gaps in our rowing prowess, in our next attempt to achieve greatness! The mood in the coach was very tense. Personally, I slept for most of it whilst others talked in anticipation for what was to come. On arrival, we rigged the boats and ate breakfast. With an hour to wait before boating, we talked through tactics in the well-known formation of ‘crew huddles’.
Once on the water, we paddled down to the start with some quick warm-up strokes before getting in line and waiting for our turn. It is always tricky watching crews starting their races, as the nerves really start to kick-in. Once at Hampton Bridge, we turned. The first stroke is always the defining moment of a race, as one can tell whether it is going to be a good one. It was a rolling start, so we had to pick up as much speed as possible so that we would cross the start line at full-pace. To plan, we tried to take immediate advantage of a 500m straight, rowing hard to pull away from the crew behind us.
Fitness was not a problem, the 5km race was a similar length to stretch of the Thames at Radley. The course itself was one big curve. As we raced towards the line, lactic acid started to build and blisters began to swell which is when the problems started: The J15A crew found out the hard way. Firstly, Bow seat caught a crab. Then, about 100 yards before the finish the cox called ‘easy there’ - thus we all stopped rowing, but little did we know that that we were not at the Finish! In response, we hit rate 40 and ploughed over the finish line. It turned out that there was some confusion between the cox and a marshal about where the finish was.
The trek back was a solemn one, completing a 5km course and then ruining the finish was not great. On the other hand, we did manage to get some 10 stroke bursts against St. Edwards on the way back!
At the end of the day we got back on dry land, de-rigged, loaded the trailer and headed home. The results: J18B crew came 14th, J16B crew came 17th, J15A crew came 1st and the J15B crew came 8th. Well done to everyone with special thanks to all the coaches and to Andy for a great day at Kingston.
Report by Hector Thorneycroft, Remove, C Social