Wednesday, June 29, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part VI: Henley, Round One

The UVa 4+ takes off in Henley (Photo: Allen Miller)
Update from Henley-on-Thames: The UVa men's eight and men's four have both won their first round match-ups in the Temple and Prince Albert, respectively, and will be looking to build on their new racing experience on the course tomorrow. The timetable has just been released for tomorrow's racing, and can be found here. Below, Matt shares his thoughts on UVa's performance:

Races at Henley are everything I was promised and more. The crowds were already noticeable for our 7 AM warm up row, both in the number of visitors and unusual fashion. After one lap of the course in the morning, we went home for a quick breakfast, and back to the course to watch the varsity four’s race. Because the Steward’s Enclosure has a strict dress code, the varsity eight watched from the downstream enclosure. Our four took control early with a ¾ length lead, and sustained that margin for the remainder of the race. University of London made moves, but our guys countered.

The UVa VIII off the start on the Thames (Photo: Allen Miller)
The race strategy in the eight reflected the number of large victories we had already seen Wednesday; race to the barrier and reevaluate there. Our start put East Anglia down by a length, and we had enough room by the barrier to begin bringing the rate down. The base of the race was comfortable and smooth. We eventually dropped the rate to 28. After hearing shouting and cheering for 1600m, I was surprised by calm clapping for the final 500m through the enclosures. The race was a great introduction to the regatta, and calmed my nerves.

After lunch, many of us put on coat and tie to return to course. I thought the piping on our blazers made them loud, but they are nothing in comparison to bold stripes in every color on the chest and sleeves of spectators in the Steward’s Enclosure. Women’s hats provided great entertainment during breaks. Notable races included Harvard ‘A’ vs. Harvard ‘B’ in the four, Hobart over Southampton University and Oxford Brookes (our opponent tomorrow) over University College London in the eight.

Thursday will be strictly business. The four faces Durham University at 12:10. Again, they are expecting a close race from start to finish. Our race is at 3:35 and will be much different than our experience today. Oxford Brookes University had a dominating performance Wednesday and will be a tough opponent.-MM

Thanks again to Allen Miller for the great shots of the racing. More to come as the next round looms – great racing today, a solid performance across the board, but now time to rest, relax, and refocus.

-RR

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