The last couple of weeks have been busy!
The first Sunday in July signals finals day of Henley Royal Regatta. This is a very important part of our racing calendar. Henley is the only event we always do on home turf, and is a very unique style of racing. It is a side by side river race where the fans can be loser to the end of your oar than you are. This really amplifies the emotion of racing as everyone can see the whites of your eyes whilst you’re hanging every fibre of your being off of the oar handles. If you’re winning you can really swagger past the huge crowds being applauded on your way to victory. There isn’t anything quite like it. The flip side of that is that when you’re losing, the pain and shame is unbearable and you just wish the river would open up and swallow you whole. It makes it a medal that every rower wants to win.
We faced off against the Kiwi mens quad in the Queen Mother Challenge cup for International standard mens Quadruple Sculls. From the first stroke it was a very hot pace and the Kiwi’s who we had dispatched so easily in Poland were matching our pace well into the race. We slowly nudged away but every time we tried to definitively put them to bed they would attack and so the race went all the way to the line. We held on for the win and paddled the boat back into Leander Club to be told that we had just broken the 28 year old course record! We attended the prize giving later to receive our beautiful medals.
We had a couple of relaxed days of training to recover and then we were off to Switzerland for the third and final World Cup regatta on the Lake of the Gods, The Rotsee. We had built a lot of confidence through the second World Cup and Henley Royal, but we knew that we would be facing off against the Lithuanians here. They hadn’t been beaten all season and had also strengthened their quad by taking out their slowest member and replacing him with an Olympic Silver medalist called Saulius Ritter. He could easily be mistaken for Ivan Drago from Rocky 4.
We were in the other heat from them and so in the first round we got out and in control of the race fairly early and booked our ticket straight for the final. The Lithuanians did the same in the other heat. Everyone else would have to race the next day for the right to race us in the final.
Sunday came around and we donned the yellow jersey of World Cup leaders that we had earned by finishing so well in the other 2 World Cup regattas. This was my first yellow jersey and it was awesome to finally have one.
We set off very well and us and the Lithuanians set the pace quite early, with the Poles hanging onto our coat tales. As we approached the final third of the race they started to nudge away from us. We tried to fight our way back but they always had an answer and the two of us moved away from the rest of the field. Lithuania came home in Gold, us in Silver and Poland in Bronze. We had turned up thinking we were capable of a Gold so this was quite disappointing for us. This result did still secure us the overall World Cup win for the series and that offered us some consolation. We came home with the Golden top and did our bit to keep GB at the top of the World Cup standings.
Next on the agenda is a big block of training. We have a few weeks at home before we go on our work camp up to altitude and then on to our finishing camp in Portugal. This might sounds a lot of glamorous jet setting but these camps are going to be pure suffering. Suffering which is going to get us a lot closer to the World Title at the end of September.