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<> or professional 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!

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