OTW with Matt Miller, Part III: First Impressions, Henley and London
|Causing a stir in South Kensington (Photo: Matt Miller)|
Apart from long lines at Dulles Airport, travel to our new home in Henley was uneventful. The red-eye put us into Heathrow around 8:00 AM Monday, and immediately there were a number of adjustments to be made to our new surroundings. We anticipated the exchange rate from dollars to pounds, but were surprised by prices, particularly food prices. In most cases, $3 of food in the US costs £3 here. I’m just glad not to be paying for gas!
For me, the jet lag wasn’t bad; I slept better than most on the plane. Some of my teammates spent the afternoon napping, but we all rallied Late in the afternoon to make a trip to the course for our first practice in England. The Cambridge oars we will be using were delivered to our house, so we had an interesting walk through the streets of Henley with twelve sweep oars, much to the amusement of several passers by. We spent hours assembling and rigging two brand new Hudson boats to the specific rig of our boats back in the states (an 8+ and 4+).
UVa with CUBC oars, near the Angel on the Bridge (Photo: Matt Miller)
The course and surrounding areas are unreal. All grassy areas are maintained like putting greens, and the boat tents and locker rooms are better than most permanent collegiate rowing facilities. Even the grass under the boat tents feels like a golf course. It’s hard to believe that the area is a field the rest of the year. The river has been particularly windy the past few days, but otherwise I love the weather, with highs in the 60s (F) making for great training weather. Unfortunately, the narrow waterway is starting to get crowded as more teams show up for Friday’s time trials or the main event next Wednesday.
Practices have generally been short. The V8 is adjusting to high rates in a headwind, while the V4 begins to taper for their Friday time trial. Pieces against other crews have broken the monotony of laps of the course on our own. Tuesday afternoon, Leander asked the V8 to provide competition for a 40 stroke start. On Wednesday morning, the V8 raced another Leander boat in 2x750m pieces. Both were a reminder of the high expectations and fierce competition of European rowing. The V4 got their own competition in three 500m pieces against Brown’s women’s eight. Both crews looked good, and our four feels prepared to qualify Friday afternoon for races next week.
The excitement of Wednesday morning pieces was only the beginning. The team took buses into London just after practice for some sightseeing. The team split into groups to see the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, London Eye, Harrods, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The night ended with a dinner at London Rowing Club in Putney. It was great to meet the LRC coaches and rowers, some of whom are Olympians. Virginia will be cheering for them as they race in the Wyfold, Visitors, Thames, and Britannia Challenge Cup events. The team will continue sightseeing on Monday as the team visits Warwick Castle. -MM
London Rowing Club (Photo: Matt Miller)
The Henley Qualifying Races take place tomorrow, so the UVa men will get their first test and taste of racing on the course in the time trials. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to more news from the Thames!
Upcoming: RR Picks and Predictions for Henley Royal Regatta, and Championship Regattas and Automatic Qualifiers – Potential Pitfalls