Tuesday, 21 June 2011

There's No Place Like Home

We've made it home, safe and sound.  Coming full circle I have included photos of that darn oar box rolling off the plane!   Look closely at the condition of the box:  Great symbollism!  Like the box, we took some bumps and bruises, but ultimately this was an amazing experience!  To conclude, recent graduate Bridget Stevens has posted our last athlete post!  Thanks for following along with our trip!

BRIDGET STEVENS, Class of 2011

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last Day in Henley

Today was the last day of racing at Women's Henley.  We finished our trip with a final practice down the course at 7AM followed by a return to our old stomping grounds: The Henley Rowing Club.  How long ago last week feels!!!  We derigged the boats said our farewell to our friends there, and then headed out to watch the racing.  The weather was its usual rain/sun combo, but the clouds eventually cleared with the last race of the day...an irony not lost on the crowds that have suffered through the elements during this three day regatta.  The TRC was eliminated in the semi-final by the eventual winner of our 8 event Nereus Boat Club (Dutch).  We did have opportunity to cheer for fellow Americans in the Final.  Purdue University put up a great fight throughout all of the rounds, but fell short of the title against that very quick Dutch boat! 

We finished the day with a wonderful meal together, glad to be going home but sad the experience is over.  Despite the trials and tribulations I believe each member of this Grand Adventure will carry few regrets.  It has been a once in a lifetime trip none will forget.  We appreciate everyone's support during the last two weeks and during the many months of preparation.  It has been an amazing team effort of athletes, coaches, parents, alumni, and fellow administrators.  You have the gratitude of all who have had the privilege to be here.

Please stay tuned for one more post.  Bridget Stevens, Class of 2011 and now officially eligible for the HOCR Alumni boat has promised to share her thoughts on the trip.  We hope to hear from her in the next day or so.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Gladitorial Arena

We have heard the term "Gladitorial" frequently during our stay.  The definition of this word highlights the central theme of combat.  For all of the civility and incredible hospitality we've encountered, this rowing nation revels in the primal aspects of this sport.  Two opponents waged against each other in a test of strength, skill, and will.  Upon reflection, I suppose that for all of the idyllic sunrises, team bonding, physical and mental wellness we derive from rowing, it is the thrill of competition that keeps many of us enraptured by our sport. 

The outcome of combat:

The Four: 

I couldn't have been more pleased with the four.  This group; Jessica Prashaw, Brooke Cotta, Olivia Durand, Liz Audet and Dominique Throop have become affectionately known as the Fabulous Four.  All first year-students, four of the women had never rowed prior to September 2010.  They have learned an incredible amount during this year, but at the end of the day "experience" is not something you can learn, it is something you must live.  Entered in the Senior 4+, an event that captures many post-college/pre-elite rowers, our freshmen saw an end to their Henley experience with a gutsy race against York City Rowing.  They understood they needed to row beyond their limits and swung for the grandstands.  They lead the race early but ultimately were overtaken by experience.  They never gave in, and forced York City to earn the privilege to progress into Saturday's racing.  The final verdict was 2 lengths! 

An interesting post-script to yesterday's race.  As I wandered the course today many individuals inquired about the progression of the four.  Many saw the race from the start and presumed we had progressed.  Ed Hewitt, from row2k approached me and indicated he had a great shot of the four "bending" the oar off the catch.  Ironically a focus during the last month!  He claimed he hadn't seen bend  like this since the days of wooden oars!  A great indication of the role these athletes will play in the many years ahead!  Here is the link to the photo:


The Eight:
In my 20 years of coaching this race stands as one of the most memorable and frustrating.  This race epitomized the meaning of Gladitorial, providing a great lesson for myself and the entire crew.  To start, we drew Thames Rowing Club.  This is the largest rowing club in all of London and has a reputation as a very strong club.  They won the Senior 8 last week in Reading so we anticipated a difficult race....little did we know.  Off the start our 8 held even and Coach Pat (riding the umpires launch) felt we may have had a slight lead.  A clean start!  Within 10 strokes our opponent began to press towards the center line, encroaching into our lane and making the wooden barrier that runs the entire length of the course feel even closer.  For those who have not been to Henley you must picture our buoyed course only two lanes wide.  Replace the harmless plastic floating buoys with wooden pylons extending 5 feet out of the water.  Then fasten floating telephone poles between each pylon on the outside of the two lanes and remove the center line separating the crews.  The gladiator's arena is now set.  As the Thames Rowing Club continued to push our coxswain closer and closer to the outside edge of the course the referee continued to command Thames Rowing Club back to their lane.  He failed to yield, making no noticeable attempt to reduce the pressure on our coxswain, Emily.  We trailed only slightly at the 500.  The combat continued, the lane continued to narrow, and then the inevitable happened.  In an ongoing effort to avoid starboard clashing of oars with our opponent we collided with the pylons on the port side.  We limped through a few strokes, Thames moved to a two length lead, and held this distance for the remainder of the race.  The verdict was two lengths. Thames ended the day with one of the fastest time of the day and progressed to race on Saturday.  We lodged a protest, and while the Umpires reprimanded their coxswain harshly, claimed they "should" disqualify them, the disqualification never came.  Such is the life of our gladiators!   It was a very difficult circumstance but our women handled the situation with the poise and grace you would expect of this group. 

Below are some photos.  I also encourage you to read the HWR coverage at http://www.row2k.com/.  There are some great photo galleries and excellent synopsis of days racing.

I post any final observations from the athletes tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Eve Before Henley

We are in the final countdown to start time for the big event.  Women's Henley commences tomorrow at 10AM with a variety of qualifying rounds.  Fortunately we do not have a qualifier and are scheduled to compete in the Senior 4 and Senior 8 tomorrow at 12:40 and 1:10 respectively.  We have all earned enormous respect for the quality of the crews that we mingle with each day.  Adjacent to our boat rack is the Princeton Varsity, winner of the V8 at this year's NCAA DI Championship and the the British U23 National Team 8.  The learning opportunity has been valuable, but tomorrow it is time to demonstrate how much progress has been made.  We face Thames Rowing Club in the 8 and York City Rowing in the 4, two strong programs that will demand our best performances.  I will update you tomorrow!

I will let Gabby Demac share a bit about our race preparation day.

GABBY DEMAC, Class of 2014

They say “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.” Well, if you don’t like the weather here in England then that is just too bad because here, as we continued to experience today, the weather went from rainy and cold to beautiful and sunny then back to pouring. Conveniently though, it only decided to rain while we had practice so it didn’t spoil our free time in which most of us spent napping…inside. Before we returned to the house for our routine snack and nap, we stopped at the farmers market (or as I called it, the fish market) that had come to town to look at fun souvenirs and buy some tasty bakery treats.
There isn’t much else to say about today’s events. We had very successful and productive rows in preparation for our big weekend followed by a delicious team dinner we cooked ourselves. Now, as I finish up here, all 14 girls are relaxing, reading, and preparing for the races. We’ve progressed so much over the course of this year and season alone and I couldn’t be happier to be on such a strong, motivated and amazing team! Wish us luck!

Macauley's thoughts on Henley

MACAULEY KENNEY, Class of 2013

Well I don’t think I can compete with the novel the Fabulously Fresh Four posted (plus there’s a movie right now in the background) so I’ll keep this short. Today, in what we’re learning to discover is true English fashion, the weather pulled a 180 from yesterday- 90 degrees and sunny- and was morosely gray and rainy. Despite this the other women’s teams have started to arrive in Henley in preparation for the weekend, and the traffic on the river is unbelievable. It’s such an incredible change to be surrounded by so many crews (although all the distractions are making it a bit harder to keep our heads in the boat) and the race mindset is definitely starting to set in. Both the four and the eight are starting to get prepared for Friday, and in our down time we’re all trying to get the most out of the last few days in England. In addition to napping, of course, which may be the team’s favorite activity. Every day after practice there’s a mass rush towards food, and then an almost synchronized crash onto couches and floors as we all fall asleep. 
I promised to keep this brief (and I’m three minutes past the time coach wanted this sent in) so I’ll wrap up. Racing is in two days and we are without a doubt ready for it- wish us luck and we’ll be back on the other side of the pond soon!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A New Voice from England - Coach Pat

From Coach Pat:
Henley-on-Thames:  Where modern rowing was born.

Even for those following the blog who are old rowers like me, understanding the mystique of Henley requires that you visit here at least once.  Henley, and other River Thames towns have rowing roots older than our United States.  The history and tradition is amazing.  For a rower, the river can be absolutely magical at times.  Our hosts at the Henley Rowing Club have been extremely gracious and accommodating.  I asked if I could row a club single or double sometime and without the slightest hesitation they set me up with all the needed equipment to explore the Thames around Henley and invited me to use the equipment whenever I wished, following a few simple club rules of course.  The rowing contingency at HRC is several hundred strong and they row often and all are skilled rowers of all ages from 10 to 100.  Last week, Linda and I took out a double for a tour of the race course from the water. The weather was a bit windy but still nice enough as we swung down around Temple Island.  It was neat being out there.  Yesterday the weather was delightful and I launched a club single from HRC at about 630 AM with one or two other club members in the early morning sunshine, but many row in the afternoon (no power boat issues here).    As I swung down the course and past Temple Island with a good steady state swing, the still water, beautiful English countryside, mist rising off the river and fields, and a slight hint of wood smoke on the damp air was an intense experience for all of my senses....spiritual really.  I am thankful that I am here with our team.  It is truly a rowing mecca where excellent rowing is expected rather than an exception, and it has been a privilege to experience it while representing WPI.  Someday, I will return, only then I will know where to find those gemlike pubs off the beaten path, which platform to be on to catch the Twyford train from Reading, which side of the car to get in on, and I will know not to rent a car with manual transmission.  My morning coffee (with milk not cream) is "takeaway", not "to go", I need to order my meal at the bar, and to "mind the gap" while exiting a train.  I will also never forget the charm, hospitality and good cheer of our English hosts which has been truly memorable.  Cheers!     
More photos from our semi-pro team photographer, Coach Pat -


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Practice Days

Monday and Tuesday have been two practice days, and as such have been relatively uneventful.  Both boats practiced once yesterday, leaving time for some sightseeing.   The four practiced early and then made their way to Oxford University to see this historic college town. The eight opted to practice in the evening, leaving the entire morning and afternoon for another trip to London. 

Today was back to double sessions.  We made several line-up changes to the four and settled on a new combination with Brooke as our new stroke seat.  Other than the fact that Brooke towers over our coxswain, Jess, and completely obstructs her view, this new line-up has potential!  Both boats did steady state with drills and short power pieces in the a.m. and finished the evening with a piece down the race course.  The rowing has improved significantly and  both boats are rowing better than at any point this seasoin.  We hope it will be enought! 

We finished the day landing at our new home for the rest of the stay.  We are no longer boating from the Henley Rowing Club, as the race venue has officially opened.  We were amongst the first to arrive and were greeted by American crews such as Princeton and Purdue. We look forwared to the next several days as the other teqmw arrive and the competitive atmosphere continues to develop!

Below is Caitlin Heindl's contribution to the Blog writing about Monday's activiities.  I will attempt to do an update of photos with tomorrow's posting.  Be sure to check back as we have some great shots to share.

CAITLIN HEINDL, Class of 2013

We all relaxed today, having a short practice and being tourists. In the eight, most of us (Suz wasn't feeling so hot earlier in the day :/) went into London and saw the changing of the guard and walked down Portobello Road. It was fun, for the changing of the guard a local tipped us that everyone mistakes the first passing of guards to be the the ones changing, so while everyone followed them we got in front of the crowd to watch the new guards walk by. It was interesting to see how many people were there to watch, as it is something that occurs every day. Portobello Road was cute, we stopped by lots of shops and looked at antiques. We were baffled by several small stands selling clothes for 5 pounds (about $8) that probably would have sold for at least $15-20 in the US. We later had practice, a quick row working on blade work at high speeds. Unlike our cold, wet weekend, the weather was beautiful today. A little cloudy in the morning, it cleared up nicely in the evening. We were also surprised to see another crew traveling to Henley while we were on the train. They had brought their oars on the train with them, and carried them with them as they walked through town (we were happy to have been able to send ours on a plane). All in all a good start to the week, hoping the weather holds out for us and looking forward to racing on Friday!

Sunday, 12 June 2011


The Fabulous Freshmen Four took the blog post for tonight. I'll keep it short as they have put a lot of time into their post!  The Four won their first round against Maidenhead RC B, but lost their second round to the ultimate winner of the event: Maidenhead RC A.  The Eight raced hard.  They beat Reading RC in the first round but ultimately lost the event in the final round.  This was a great race from start to finish, with close overlap throughout the race.  Final margin was 3 seats.  This was a highly productive weekend as we look to prepare for next week's racing.

Jess Prashaw, Dominique Throop, Liz Audet, Olivia Durand, Brooke Cotta

Le Blog
Compliments of the Fabulously Fresh Four (Class of 2014)
Saturday marked the day that the first WPI Women raced overseas.  Our race was several hours before the eight’s, so naturally, we left for Reading much earlier. We sent our boat down to Reading in shifts. Coach’s driving has greatly improved. The weather was chilly, but nice in the morning, which we would later appreciate. The race course was a bit hectic, but we got the hang of the British system quite quickly. Because we were on the Thames, there was also large boat traffic right next to the racing.  We were a bit strapped for time, but we made it safely to the starting line. In place of stake boats, were little tiny row boats that had children in them to hold the shells in place. The officials attempted to start the race before we were actually locked on to the “stake boat”.  Although we did not advance to the next round, the grand winner raced a total of four times, that race was the best the four has ever moved together. The remainder of the day decided to pour while we watched races and explored the course. We noticed that few dogs stay on leashes, yet are completely obedient to their owners. We saw one dog running along side a race, continuously checking to make sure he was still winning. He was the obvious winner. We learned to watch out for bikes chasing boats down the course, as they do not stop. One coach was racing down the path while recording his boat and had little time to watch for pedestrians. We cheered on the eight as they raced past, regardless that we could not feel our extremities.
Sunday began with a similar process, but the rain had already started in on us. Also, Coach decided that standing in the rain all day was not the best idea for athletes preparing for a day of racing, and had a hotel room for the team to hang out in.  We warmed up in a luxurious gym that was complete with a spa and many running, elliptical, cross country skiing, and “ergo” machines. Our first race of day was against Maidenhead B, who we defeated, bringing in the first winning race in the history of WPI Women’s Rowing over seas.  The opposing team had wonderful sportsmanship and followed the British tradition of giving the other team three cheers. “ Hip! Hip!” says the coxswain, who the rowers respond to with, “Hooray!” which is thrice repeated. Being the Americans that we are, we embraced their custom, falling slightly short with two cheers for Maidenhead… or York…because that’s who we were told we were racing… It was a valiant effort, nonetheless. We spent the next few hours in the room plotting our next race and watching British television. We then ventured out into the elements for our second race. We spoke with our next opponents, Maidenhead A, while waiting to be called up to the start line. They were all very sweet and between the ages of 25 and 45. We also had a word with the officials who welcomed us to the lovely English summers of rain every hour at the least. “Now you know why none of us have tans” was the explanation we received. The race started, we pulled hard, but were unable to beat the crew we were up against. Again, all very courteous, but all were very seasoned rowers. Our novice four aspires to be able to row at that level. The remainder of the day was spent staying warm and dry before we watched the eight’s final race. Shortly after, we packed the boats onto the trailer. Which seemed a better alternative to rowing back down the Thames in the elements. We did, however experience for the first time, the English bus system. All of the sudden, Coach’s driving seems safe. Needless to say the bus driving believed he owned the road, and nothing would stop him. Over all, a very informative weekend on how racing works in the UK and we are looking forward to the Women’s Henley this coming weekend.


WPI Women's Crew First International Race SATURDAY

A variety of technical issues prevented me from posting last night but I will recap Saturday now.

It was a beautiful day in Reading, where we attended the Reading Amateur Regatta.  You couldn't imagine a better setting.  Perfect water, sunny skies and a lot of great rowing!

The Four started the day with a solid performance but came up a length short.  The day ended for them at 9:30AM.  They spent the rest of the day watching the rowing and preparing themselves for Sunday's racing. 

The Eight had a very strong race. They felt it was one of their better "pieces" of the season, but in the Gladiator's Arena (see Emily Johnson's post at the bottom) a loss is a loss!  They fell to Lady Holles Crew, who sprinted  four seats down with a blazing sprint to beat our women by 2 seats.  We were caught off-guard by this sprint and hope to learn from this experience as we move into the next week of racing.

I will update you on Sunday's results later tonight (highlight: WPI Women's Crew first international Crew victory in both the 4 and the 8). 

EMILY JOHNSON, Class of 2013

Gladiatorial Combat. This phrase was given to us by Coach Guida and is the perfect description of the English style of racing. Two boats are set against each other along a narrow course and allowed to fight for 1500 meters as eager spectators cheer from the sidelines. As their coxswain, I know WPI women’s crew brought the fight from the first stroke. As we rowed the boat down to the course in the pouring rain, spirits were still high and I could feel the nervous energy. At the start we waited anxiously for our competitors, LEH, to arrive. Off the start we pushed through LEH, holding the highest stroke rating we have all season for the first 1100 meters. I could see the looks on my stern pairs’ faces; they gave everything they had for each stroke, making me want to push them harder. The level of pain which these athletes are willing to endure for their team truly amazes me every race.  At the sprint, we struggled to bring the stroke rating up, as we are used to sprinting races back home at the same pace that we had raced this one. There is no doubt in my mind that we were strong enough to beat LEH, but with a higher stroke rating they overtook us and won by 2 or 3 seats. Despite this disappointing loss, we have decided to take today’s race as a learning experience. Tomorrow will be a new challenge as we look to fight our way through three rounds of “Gladiatorial Combat” to show England just how amazing the women of the WPI Women’s Crew Team are. Wish us luck!


Friday, 10 June 2011

The Row to Reading

Today was an unbelievable experience for our team.  In preparation for our racing in Reading it was necessary for them to row the equipment from Henley to Reading.  This required about 3.5 hours of rowing along incredible English countryside while bravely facing the system of locks in place along the Thames.  As the photos will show, this presents an interesting challenge.  The width of a boat from oar-tip to oar-tip is approximately 22 feet.  The width of the narrowest lock was approximately 12 feet.  The women mastered the art of squeezing into this space with oars drawn in; balancing themselves carefully to avoid capsizing.  There were some scary moments as the athletes learned the tricks of handling themselves, but they learned quickly, and navigated four locks without mishap.  While Coach Pat biked along the shore in an attempt to provide supervision, we were aware the path did not always follow the river and that coxswains would be asked to use their own good judgement.  I was proud to see the entire group utilize their ever-increasing rowing skills and maturity to make this a safe and memorable experience. They will tell the story of this day for many years to come!

Thanks to Coach Pat for the photos:

AMY LOOMIS, Class of 2013
As we made our mile-long journey to the Henley Rowing Club boathouse this morning (some times Coach is optimistic – our jolly stroll has got to be longer than ½ mile!), we were eager to pack pounds of gear into the hull of our boat in order to survive the 14-mile row to Reading.  Instead of doing the typical travel thing; de-rigging, loading a trailer with absurd precision, traveling to said final location, unloading the trailer, and once again obsessively re-rigging the boats, we just rowed the boat up the Thames (it probably saved a lot of time and effort in the long run, if you believe it).  Why?  Well we’re rowers, why wouldn’t we?  This three-hour endeavor was possibly the most fun time I have ever had in a boat.  Not only did we over pack our snack foods – British cookies are the BEST – but we also had a “14-mile row” specific playlist that Lauren spearheaded last night as we began to prepare for the possibility of boredom with this group of girls.  Luckily, there was no boredom to be had, for there were some of the most beautiful houses/castles that any of us had ever seen, as well as plenty of house boaters passing us with some definite confusion and surprise..  Pat was riding alongside us on his bike to make sure none of us jumped out of the boat to run off into the English countryside, and during his own journey it sounds like he encountered some interesting people who first thought we were ‘journeymen’ traversing the river, but upon further explanation of our purpose here, were surprised to find that we were actually women rowing here in a serious way!  With that, we previewed the Reading Regatta course, even though we didn’t know exactly where the starting line was, found waaaay too many Canada geese to our liking, put the boat to sleep for the night, and tomorrow we race!!  Wish us luck :)

As Coach Guida biked along with the boats to Reading he encountered two English gents walking the country path:

Two gents: "I say are you chaps going thru the LOCKS with those boats?!"  Are you journeymen or something?"

"A journeyman or journeywoman is an athlete<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportsperson> or professional sports<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports> player who is technically competent, but unable to excel."

Pat: "No these women are racers!"  We're going to Reading to race!

Two chaps: "Wot!?  GIRLS racing???!!"  Wow! Never heard of such a thing!  Jolly good show!  Good luck to you.:  Are you in charge or the coach or something?"

Pat: "Why yes I am the coach."

Two chaps: "Woah, That is a GREAT job you've got there chap!"

I couldn't agree more.  WPI WoCrew ROCKS!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Now we know why there are so many coxless boats in England!

Mary Hesler has written a synopsis of today's events posted below.  She discussed the food poisoning, Coach's new ear piercing, the leaking boat......what else is left for me to say!   Before you read on just know that Caitlin if feeling much better, the swelling in my ear has subsided, and the boat is now water-tight!!  Another brillant day in Henley!!! 

With that said, we have now learned why so few coxswains seem to exist in England forcing the rowing of coxless boats such as pairs, straight fours, and sculling boats.  Coxswains have a special pre-practice dock duty to perform while the rowers warm up.  Enjoy the photos of Emily and Jess embracing this British custom!   When in Rome....

We thought we had it bad at the DRC.  They have Canadian AND Egyptian geese here! 

I'll conclude with few photos of the course and the boats:

MARY HESLER - Class of 2012

Today was our second day rowing on the Thames River. I woke up with 15 minutes until our meeting at 7:30 (having only one cellphone and therefore one alarm has not worked out so well for me). I managed to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road with the rest of the eight to get down to the boathouse. I was the last one out the door but we still managed to make it there with some time to spare. Unfortunately two of our rowers in the eight came down with food poisoning and got little to no sleep last night and one of which could not row. Change of plans, we had to go out in a seven. As we were discussing plans for the day with Coach Steele, Coach flinched, grabbed his ear and explained he was "bit by a bee". I've never known bees to bite, sting maybe, but I've never seen somone get stung just standing there doing nothing to harrass it. I never even saw a bee around him, but I guess it decided that coach's ear needed a new piercing. I came to learn that bees do sting, they don't bite. I, being the closest person at the time, removed the stinger. It's safe to say coach probably doesn't want comments on his inflamed left ear, but let me tell you, I don't think it was a good look for him. After the drama of the morning,  we moved our bowman up in the eight and rowed up and down the race course by sixes and fours in our uneven boat. As we were rowing, the bowman, now seven seat, noticed that beads of droplets coming in through the seam in our rented Resolute. This is common for boats that have seams. Most of the time the leak can be fixed by smearing a good amount of vasaline on the seam and bolting the seam back together. What's not so common is having a team that randomly carries vasaline around with them. When we came back for our second practice, our coach asked our coxswain whether any of us, in the four or the eight had vasaline on them. Surprisingly enough, none of us had vasaline with us.  As for practice, coach decided to join our eight in bow and row with us for the second practice as our seven seat still was feeling under the weather. That meant I, as two seat, had to row perfectly as my coach was directly behind me and could see every move I made. It was awful. Actually, it wasn't that bad. Until we did starts. Oh boy, did Coach Steele not like our start. We started with our normal start we've done all season long.. but he couldn't get it right. I thought I was going to lose a kidney with those starts. So he changed our start. No, it wasn't all due to the fact he couldn't remember our start, but it seemed that way. He was pleasantly surprised with our power and not too ashamed of our set so all in all, I think we passed that test. He on the other hand may have not passed ours.. though. I don't think that Emily liked him giving demo's to the four taking random strokes when she's trying so hard to steer a straight course all the way down the river. That pretty much wrapped up our day of rowing in a nutshell. Now we have a fun row to Reading up ahead of us. We should have some good stories from that trip too

I did not create a seperate page for yesterday's blog.  Sorry if you missed it.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Grand Adventure Begins


We arrived safely in England late last night.  The trip was relatively uneventful, but I learned a few valuable lessons along the way. 

1) A twelve foot 80 lb. cardboard box is not just oversized luggage.  After hours of back and forth the day before departure, American Airlines granted special approval to overlook luggage restrictions and to transport the Team's blades.  All 12 made it safely......I've included a few photos of the start of their journey..

2) Car Rental Companies close promptly at 10:00PM.   After a late night arrival, the oars were not done with us yet!  Some creative loading of the12 foot box into the 10 foot mini-van shuttle was required.  When it was determined that the Oars and the Athletes would not all fit in the shuttle, Brooke and Olivia were causualties of the Golden Rule of Crew: Equipment before Athletes.  Left behind with COACH, we bid farewell to the rest of the team, and proceeded to the rental car pick up (our only remaining transport to Henley) at 10:10PM.   You can see where this leads.....one hour later we managed to find a rental car agent on her way home, who rented us a car allowing us to make the final leg of the trip.

3) Left handed stick-shift while driving on the left side of the road, at Midnight through Heathrow International Airport is not for the faint-of-heart! For those of you alumni who have marvelled at my boat trailer parallel parking skills...you haven't seen anything.   Brooke and Olivia, undaunted at being left behing with Coach, will one day share the stories of my finest moment!

DAY 1 - Travel Recovery Day

Today was an off day and was relatively quiet.  The women left on the trains at 9AM for London.  Coach Guida, honarary assistant coach Mrs. Guida, and I spent the day preparing the boats for tomorrow's practice.  General rigging, cleaning, etc. brought our rented Resolute 8 and Janousek 4 up to race-readiness.  

To conclude the day we gathered in the evening to review the results of the Draw for this weekend's Reading Regatta and next weekend's Henley. 

Reading Day 1: 
The 8 has drawn a by through the first round.
The 4 has drawn St. Pauls USA

Reading Day 2:
The 8 has drawn Reading Rowing Club
The 4 has drawn Maidenhead Rowing Club

The 8 has drawn Thames Rowing Club
The 4 has drawn York City Rowing Club

We look forward the great racing and many experiences ahead.

DAY 2 - First Practice

Today was a day of general organization and acclimatization.  Athletes began the day with breakfast at the main house; helped assemble oars and then off to our home for the next few days: The Henley Rowing Club.

As has been the case in all places, the people we meet are wonderful, love to talk about rowing, and have made us feel incredidbly welcome.  The boat club is a mere 1/2 mile walk; a walk that takes use through the heart of this charming town and over the idelic Thames. 

Upon arrival we set to the task of a final cleaning of the boats, toured the facilities, and prepared to practice.  Our plan was to divide practice into thirds with three distinct goals: 

First third: Acquaint with the surroundings.  Learn the traffic patterns and take in the scenery (top of the Team's  list I hear was a Men of Leander Club Calendar displayed in the boathouse?).  We have traveled across the globe to be in the heart of rowing history and it was important that we take time to take it all in; check out the sites allowing them to fade as distractions.

Second third: Acquaint with the rowing.  It has been 5 days since our last row and everybody is tired from the trip.  Get back in the boat and remember how to row.  Figure out boat issues such as heights, shoe angles etc.

Last third: Begin the process of focusing on the major reason why we are here: To race!  We have been blessed to have this opportunity and each individual will be challenged to look past all of the very cool things we see each day; compartmentalizing to assure that when race day arrives none of this will distract from our ability to represent WPI Women's Crew at a very high level.

For the most part we achieved the goal of today.  Wind, rain, and cold; mixed with Calm, sun and warmth added to the challenge of finding our rythm, however, by days end we found our stride and began to find the speed needed in the week ahead.  Everybody was unconscious by 9:30...

We will post more photos in the days ahead and each athlete will contribute their adventures in an effort to provide you a real feel for the experience here!