ERG from the Jewish Woman's rowing group describes her first experience of racing at St. Neots regatta on 23 July
We ordered the T-shirts; a bright orange Lea colour, worked on our racing starts, had some extra outings, bought the membership and were ready to give this first race all we had. My confidence lasted up until we met our opponents and observed them placing their boat confidently and strongly into the river and rowing off with precision that comes from years of practice.
Getting ready for the race, right next to our competitors
The umpire bellowed, "Attention, go" and off they shot. They, as in our opponents. I was left gawking, as they smoothly and effortlessly raced off disappearing into the horizon. Our brave Cox, who incidentally, was also a first-time racer, brought me back down to river commanding, "Build, build" and gruffly shouting, "Go for it". Her barking paid off because we came in gloriously, drum roll please....second :) :)
In full swing, rowing down the course.
Attempting to save face by at least displaying a graceful landing, proved too difficult for our disappointed crew. Our kind, unflappable coach Louise Nickerson, members of the Lea team and a cheerful organiser from the event shouted directions in an attempt to help us navigate the tight landing spot, willing the boat to come closer so that they can grab the oar and physically pull us in.
It took many attempts to finally 'park' our boat giving much joy to the amused crowd and a sigh of relief from the patient racers all stuck in a pile-up behind us. At this point I was rueing the day I had agreed to wear matching bright orange T-shirts and wished I had brought my invisible clock or at least an inconspicuous, dull black T-shirt, to blend in with the crowd.
I laughed all the way home and again when repeating the events of the, "nine brightly clad aspiring women rowers" to family and friends. Although I felt I had bungled this race, our ever-patient Louise comforted us, claiming that this is typical for a first-time race. I appreciated her belief in us and was thankful for the opportunity to feel the racing vibes and bond as a team.
Lesson of the day: shelve those bright T-shirts until the day when we can wear them proudly, as we skilfully knock our opponents out of the water. Until then, meet you on the river....Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray!