OTW with Potomac Boat Club's John Forrest, Part III: Pirates, Locks, and Blazers

PBC Thames Cup VIII on the way to Reading (Photo: © Allison Prevatt)
It was a busy weekend for Potomac, as the PBC Thames Cup VIII headed over to compete in the Reading Town Regatta–a common practice as crews prepare for Henley Royal–narrowly avoiding a group of 'pirates' paddling along the Thames as PBC progressed through the locks on the way to Reading. Here's the latest from John Forrest:
On Saturday morning, the eight paddled from Henley to Reading for the Reading Town Regatta. The row was about eight miles long and took us upriver through a fairly winding section of the Thames. This was a scenic row as we passed by a lot of country houses, waterfront pubs, and open fields. There was a little bit of excitement as we passed a group of pirates paddling down the river in canoes. They later wandered onto the Henley course and almost collided with the Potomac four as it was practicing.

One of the unique parts of the row to Reading is rowing through three locks. The first time rowing into a lock was slightly terrifying as we had to maneuver the boat into a narrow space and try to stay in place as water filled the lock. This was complicated by the strong stream and winds.

Pirates on the Thames (Photo: © Allison Prevatt)
We eventually made it to Reading and had a couple of hours to relax and grab lunch before our first eight hundred meter race. The day gave us a chance to get in a long row to stretch our legs, some sprint pieces to shock our jet-lagged systems, and a lot of strokes into the stream and headwind conditions that we might see in Henley.

As sometimes happens to American crews on a Henley trip, we traveled a few thousand miles to race a crew located less than five miles from our club – Gonzaga College High School. Gonzaga is also located in Washington, DC but rows on the Anacostia River. It’s been great to see them have a successful domestic racing season and the opportunity to race at Henley. We will be cheering for them throughout the week.

The regatta Draw was also posted on Saturday. The Henley Stewards have tagged the eight as one of four selected crews in the Thames Cup. We race Marlow Rowing Club on Wednesday evening in our opening race. The Wyfold Cup four has drawn London Rowing Club ‘B’ in the first round and races Wednesday morning. The PBC scullers start racing in the open-level events later in the week.

Both crews have settled into a routine of paddling on the course twice a day. One goal of these rows is to become familiar with the course markers. Since the course is slightly longer than two thousand meters, we have to use markers on the shore such as the Barrier, Fawley, and the Mile Post to measure our progress rather than five hundred meter markers.

As a club crew, we don’t really have many activities or day trips planned as schools often do. Instead each crew member has been using downtime to wander around town, head into London or Oxford, engage in some epic ping pong games, and just catch up on sleep.

The first full group activity is the Overseas Crew Reception this evening. Some of the guys have been itching to break out the PBC blazers we ordered for the trip. This will be the first time for us to wear them as a group. -JF
The PBC contingent will be donning their finest apparel for the first time, and gearing up for the regatta to start on Wednesday. As John states, the Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup VIII was named a 'selected' (seeded) crew by the Henley Stewards, and, according to The Draw, will be racing Marlow Rowing Club (at 630pm according to the Wednesday Timetable, now posted to the HRR website), while the PBC Wyfold entry will be taking on what is likely to be a competitive 'B' crew from London RC.

The excitement is brewing in Henley-on-Thames, and our publishing schedule here on RR will reflect that, with the VOTW timetable rearranged so that we can bring your more from the Stewards' Enclosure. We will be releasing our 2012 HRR Picks and Predictions tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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