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!