Wednesday, June 27, 2012

OTW with Potomac Boat Club's John Forrest, Part IV: The Thames Challenge Cup, Round One

Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup VIII races the heat (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
While the Potomac Wyfold IV experienced some hard Henley luck, the Thames Cup VIII crew responded well to a tough challenge from local favorites, Marlow Rowing Club. Here's John's view of the first round of the Thames Challenge Cup from the six seat of the PBC eight:
Today was the first day of racing at Henley Royal Regatta. PBC’s four and eight were scheduled to race at opposite ends of the day – 8:40AM and 6:30PM. The four drew London Rowing Club ‘B’ in a morning Wyfold match up. It was a close race early on with Potomac taking a slight lead before drifting into London’s water. There was a clash and the race umpire disqualified PBC for interference. It is an understatement to call this a disappointing way to exit the regatta, but the four is handling it admirably.

The eight then had the rest of the day to prepare for our evening race against Marlow Rowing Club. After a lunch break paddle, we rested in the afternoon before meeting up at the boat tent ninety minutes before our race.

After a beautiful two days of weather, the morning started off overcast with a moderate cross-headwind on the course. After an afternoon shower passed through, the sun began to poke out from the clouds and the wind slackened as we were walking to the course. We had some of the best conditions of the day to race in.

We negotiated our way to the top of the course through the late afternoon pleasure boat traffic. After passing the start line, we got in our pre-race power strokes and starts and then lined up at the start. We tried to stay loose at the start and the three of us from the 2010 boat were glad to see the umpire’s launch Herakles, which followed all of our races in 2010, pull past Temple Island to officiate our race.

PBC VIII v. Marlow (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
Marlow gunned it off the start and the two boats traded seats throughout the early part of the race. Marlow held a lead of a couple of seats at the Barrier and we had reversed the margin by Fawley. Over the second half the race we punched out to an open water lead and managed to hold that until the finish.

After docking, we had a chance for a brief chat with the Marlow boat. They are a great group and sound like a young crew and I hope they are able to have more good racing in their future.
Off the water, the marquee event so far was the Overseas Crew Reception at the River & Rowing Museum. This gave us the first chance to break out our official PBC blazers as a team.

Blazer Up! PBC contingent on the bank (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
The museum is a great venue with interesting exhibitions on the history of rowing, Henley Royal Regatta, and the Thames River. One highlight of the reception was a speech from the newest regatta steward, Guin Batten. She shared the story of her first time racing at the regatta. She was new to sculling but made it through qualifiers for the women’s single event, only to draw Elisabeta Lipa for her first race. Although her first Henley race did not result in a win, it was still a very memorable race and she encouraged all of the crews to enjoy the racing to forge their own lasting memories of the regatta.
We race the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at 10AM tomorrow morning and are looking forward to another day of racing on the Thames. -JF
Quite a dramatic first day of racing, with no less than 88 races having been run on the Henley course on Wednesday. While it may be obvious, it is always astounding, nonetheless, to think that roughly half of the crews entered in the regatta have already been eliminated (with the obvious exceptions of those yet to begin racing). But then, such is Henley Royal Regatta. Thanks very much to John for the post on quite a busy evening -- another exciting day awaits tomorrow on the Thames!

-RR

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