|Virginia racing past the Progress Board in Round One of the Temple|
The following is the fourth installment of our #HoosGoingToHenley series with Forrest Brown of Virginia Men's Rowing.
Greetings, once again, from Henley, after an excellent first day of racing! While our four had the day off and will have their first race tomorrow, our eight opened Henley against a team of Durham University-affiliated rowers racing as St. Hild & St. Bede and St. Cuthbert's.
We had a relaxed morning in our racing home, where the eight is staying for regatta week. About a mile up the hill from the course, we have to bike back and forth, but it's worth it to have a retreat from the craziness of the regatta. Knowing our race was in the evening, we all had large meals to start the day while enjoying the fantastic live stream of the racing online. We all enjoyed watching UVa 2013 alum Jonathan Furlong, racing with Mercantile Rowing Club from Melbourne, Australia, race to a dominating victory in the Thames Challenge Cup while we ate!
In the late morning we all proceeded down to the course to pull some light erg pieces to keep our bodies awake. While definitely helpful, the soaring temperatures made the pieces in the cramped boat tent a sweltering experience. We all went home to grab some food and relax afterwards. [Ed note: At least the unheated showers are a benefit this year?]
We started the afternoon with two hours of intentional focus and relaxation, where we cut ourselves off from parents, friends, and the Regatta to read, sleep, and prepare ourselves mentally for the race to come.
At this point I was practically shaking with pent up energy and anticipation, and you could feel the boat’s internal excitement rising by the minute. We made our way back to the course and started warming up, and it was evident we’d all been waiting a long time for this moment. The first race at Henley is in many ways the most nerve-wracking, as all the build-up and expectations of months of training come together in one, potentially final, piece. Making it through the day is as much an exercise in managing nerves as it is in pulling hard or rowing well. We all felt ready to burst with pent up energy as we warmed up and locked on to the stake-boats in the still formidable evening heat.
But the best part of racing is that when the flag drops, the nerves are gone. We jumped out to an early lead over our opponents and never looked back, ending the race with a length and 3/4 margin and a Henley win under our belts. We have to get right back to work tomorrow, though, as we go up against Hobart at 2:05 PM. They are a very fast squad who we scrimmage every spring in Charlottesville, so it will be fun to have an excellent race against some good friends with everything on the line. Our four races Exeter University tomorrow at 3:15, so it will be a Virginia hour out of the lunch break.
Best of luck to all USA crews, and Wahoowa! -FB
Photo © Forrest Brown. Best of luck to Forrest and the Cavaliers tomorrow as they take on a very strong Hobart crew that placed a close second behind Michigan at ECACs this spring, and is certainly not lacking in mustache power.
Catch up on the whole #HoosGoingToHenley series, and more rowing athlete blogs, via our Travelogues page.